By Ann Butler
The dulcet tones of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” filled the Durango Arts Center on Feb. 9 to conclude the Sweetheart of the Arts presentation, but there was much celebrating before that.
The evening started with a cornucopia of delights in the Barbara Conrad Gallery. Cathy Alfandre, formerly of Roadrunner Catering, coordinated the hors d’oeuvre reception with appetizers passed by students from the Durango Arts Center Applause Performing Arts program.
The menu included overflowing mezze platters from Cyprus Café; artichoke hearts à la Grecque (stuffed with a marinated vegetable and olive mixture), caprese crostini and salami coronets filled with smoked cheddar mousse from Mutu’s Italian Kitchen; and, courtesy of DAC member Jen Anderson, mini-shrimp cocktails, bite-sized open-face Reuben sandwiches, and other miniature delights.
Caprice Fox provided the piano accompaniment for the reception.
Star Liquors provided wine for the reception and sparkling wine for toasts to the honorees, and owners Stan and Alice Crapo were on hand for the festivities. Ska Brewing Co. donated the beer, and event barware was provided courtesy of Durango Party Rental.
Guests moved into the DAC Theatre for the presentations, where they found sweet plates offering chocolate-walnut cookies from the Rochester Hotel and Valentine’s dark and milk chocolates thanks to Animas Chocolate Co.
Ted Holteen ably served as master of ceremonies.
The three honorees this year – Jeannie Wheeldon, Debra Greenblatt and Ed Bolster – found themselves on the receiving end of a lot of gratitude for their contributions to the arts in our community. And as is always the case at these events, guests all learned something new about them as well as just how much they contribute.
Wheeldon, a fifth generation Durangoan, has supported the arts in virtually every possible iteration, beginning as a little girl watching rehearsals at the Diamond Circle Melodrama. She became usher, ticket girl, actress, choreographer, director, and finally owner and producer of the productions that had a 46-year run. After being away for performing for several years, she returned to the stage in recent years, both acting and singing. And she and her husband, Steve, are philanthropists to numerous arts organizations and attend many performances in the area.
Greenblatt and Bolster, bring richness to the local art scene both individually and as a couple. Art is part of everything they do.
Greenblatt’s commitment to public art is visible throughout the community, including her Dumpster Beautification Project, which has brightened alleys while giving at-risk kids a creative outlet, and pieces such as her reflection as a native New Yorker on the impact of 9/11 that’s now in front of Durango City Hall.
Bolster has had a lifelong career as both an artist and a craftsman. He is a Renaissance man, with ceramics in museum collections and houses he has built from the ground up. He’s also an inspiring educator, teaching figure-drawing classes at the arts center.
There is no way I can do justice to the activities and contributions the Sweethearts of the Arts honorees have made to our thriving art community. The online version of this story, includes links to the videos created for the event so readers can get a better sense of the scope and variety of ways each of the sweethearts have made a difference.
The videos were created by DAC Technical Director Eric Bulrice with the assistance of Durango Big Picture High School intern Mark Garcia. They feature tributes by Alison Dance, Laurie Dickson, Jim Duke, Helen Gregory, Scott Hagler, Helen Kunz, Doug Lashley, Melanie McLean and Denver-based artist Brian Simmonds.
Stillwater Foundation Executive Director Jeroen van Tyn serenaded Wheeldon with “Willkomen” from “Cabaret” – one of her favorite productions – and he was joined by the rest of the Stillwater a capella group the DurangoATones – Stephen Bowers, Fox, Sheryl Jones and Judith Vanderryn – for the closing serenade.
Past Sweethearts of the Arts recipients attending included Richard Ballantine, Leesa Zarinelli Gawlik, Mary Ellen Long, Sandra Mapel and Carol Salomon.
Congratulations to all of the Durango Arts Center’s 2017 Sweethearts of the Arts, and thank you for all you do.
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