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Not too long ago, Mark Seliger was a teenager and blossoming artist from Bellaire who was hoping to make it into the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts's prestigious art department. He didn't. "Somehow, my brother Frank talked me out of walking away completely," says Seliger. He somewhat grudgingly enrolled in the school's media technology program instead. "I learned about photography, radio and filmmaking," Seliger recalls. "So it turned out to be a good decision."

Did it ever. A little more than two decades later, Seliger shoots for GQ and Vanity Fair and is one of the most celebrated editorial photographers in the business. This generation's Herb Ritts, he takes mortal stars and immortalizes them forever on magazine covers and spreads and in his gorgeous, glossy books. Today Seliger will host a discussion about his career and the new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston called "Mark Seliger: In My Stairwell." The exhibit, which is one of the MFAH's entries for FotoFest, consists of 16 prints selected from Seliger's series "In My Stairwell." Shot in his West Village studio in New York, the series features candid, sometimes off-the-wall portraits of stars such as Susan Sarandon (who lies before the camera in a sensual pose), Julia Roberts, Michael J. Fox with Muhammad Ali, Willie Nelson, Mel Brooks (sporting a très Hitler look) and Jerry Seinfeld.

Seliger hopes folks enjoy seeing their favorite celebs from the quirky vantage point that "Stairwell" offers. "It's fun, it's about pure entertainment," he says. He might as well be talking about his career. Lecture begins at 6 p.m. Free.

The exhibition coincides with a showing of Seliger's portraits of Holocaust survivors, called "When They Came to Take My Father," which are on view at the Holocaust Museum Houston (for information, visit www.hmh.org).
Feb. 20-June 4

 
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