HOUSTON - It has been a little hot in Houston this August—OK, it’s a lot hot—but the show I’d most want to get on a plane for right now is Dear John & Dominique: Letters and Drawings from the Menil Archives, which just opened at the Menil Collection and stays on view there until January 6th.

It’s all part of The Menil’s big 25th anniversary—look for news of their gala party come November—and I’m fascinated by the lives of these mega-patrons, who built what is surely one of the world’s best art collections of all time.

It’s a story in words and pictures told by the Menils and the artists and architects they befriended/collected, like Renzo Piano, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Philip Johnson. Best of all is Niki de Saint Phalle’s 1980 New Year’s card to Dominique, which is delightfully whimsical and colorful, especially her butterfly-like rendering of “friendly monsters in your dreams.” Never have monsters looked like more fun.

Niki de Saint Phalle's New Year's Greeting, 1979. © 2012 Niki Charitable Art Foundation. All rights reserved / ARS, NY / ADAGP, Paris. The Menil Collection, Houston, gift of the artist.
Photo: Janet Woodard, Houston.