Silent auctions selling art can be a dime a dozen, but Mountain Middle School event organizers found a way to ramp up their proceeds by injecting mystery into the process.
They presented all kinds of art without one important fact – who created it. It’s interesting how influenced we are by the identity of the artist. A work by Monet? Priceless. One by yours truly? Not a plugged nickel.
But all buyers at the school’s Mountain Mystery Art Show Unveiling Party knew was whether or not they loved a piece.
The work was on display at the Lost Dog Bar & Lounge for about a week before the March 1 event, and organizers said there were more than a few people wanting to know if a certain work or two was done by a favorite artist. They stayed mum for the big reveal at a party that night, and there were lots of surprises.
Many artists were in attendance, introducing themselves to the happy buyers after the sale. They included Maureen May, Debra Parmenter, Michael Brieger, Diane Thornton, Cindy Atchison, Christian Van Lindt, Kathy Whitson and Angela Crossland.
The organizing committee was led by Shannon Smith, who is the chairwoman of all fundraising activities at MMS, and included Leigh Bright, Jessica Wheeler, Moira Compton, Michelle Swan, Laura Hoover, Linda Fitts-Lieberman, Angela Minerich, Mari Sentner, Jynn Furnas, Susan Smilinac and many others.
They had some fun discoveries of their own, seeking out talent from inside the school – teachers Crossland and Darcy Alden, parents Brieger, Atchison, Van Lindt, Gretchen Fitzgerald, Ann Friedman, Kristina John, Wes Stein, an aunt, Erika Pitcher, and even a grandparent, Richard Montrose. Several students donated some remarkably mature pieces, including Bailey Bustamante, Lilah Gutt, Andrew Papineau, Isabelle Simpson, Chloe Stein and Gus Kidd.
Other members of the local education community were also great finds, including Karen Patrum from Needham Elementary School and Roxy McKnight from Animas High School.
The event surpassed expectations on many levels. They were hoping for 50 artists – more than 60 participated. They hoped for 120 guests at the “Whodunit Party,” and more than 200 showed up. And best of all, their goal was to raise $20,000, and they raised almost $30,000.
Mountain Middle School seventh grade science and math teacher David Farkas ably served as auctioneer, and music was by the faculty of the Stillwater Foundation, who came together for one special performance to perform jazz on keyboards, bass, drums, trumpet and violin. Those talented folks, who proved that it takes real musicians to teach, included Evan Suiter, Jeroen van Tyn, Ryan McCurry, Jared Wright and Steve Dejka.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was a painting by C. Gregory Gummersall that was donated by Eolus Bar & Dining, but it’s really hard to say who went home with the best piece to hang on their wall.
Check out www.mountainmysteryart.com to see all the works in the sale. A few are still available.
While Mountain Middle School is a public school, it’s also a charter school, so it doesn’t receive funding for facilities, transportation, supplies or staff development. The money raised will go to enlarging its facilities, as the demand for enrollment just keeps increasing, and to attract, retrain and develop its staff, who are specialists in project-based learning. While it’s only in its third year, the school has received the Colorado Department of Education’s top performance designation.
I know that schools such as Mountain Middle School work in large part because of highly motivated students and parents as well as small classes that give students plenty of attention. But I also know that for many students, this kind of learning and opportunity often means the difference between surviving middle school and thriving in middle school, so I’m glad a group of very committed people worked for years to give them this kind of chance.
Celebrating the last of the Pisces birthdays are Becca Schaldach, Meredith Rolfe, Mary Shaw, Pat Boots, Missy Rodey, Kelly McCrea, Maria Root, Dennis Rolfe, Julia Gallagher, Josh Magyar, Lynn Mitzlaff, Naomi Verow, Mia Whistler, Cherie Cobb, Ridge Pinkerton, Aidan Araujo, Marilyn Johnson, Maria Root, Ethan Craig, Mindi Kondrat, Josh Mietz, Gregory Rambo, Tom Schiltgen and Shaun Stanley.
For several years, the Bayfield Lions Club held fundraisers, wrote grants and worked, worked, worked to buy their building from the Colorado Grange. Last year, they celebrated the completion of the deal, but now they’re back at work raising money for much-needed repairs and new furniture.
Since they make their facilities available for all kinds of activities in the area, their success is a bonus for the entire community. The club’s foundation is holding its annual Banquet and Auction at 5 p.m. March 22. (Dinner will be served at 6 p.m.)
The dinner will include complimentary beer and wine, along with raffles and an auction. The cost is a very reasonable $20 per person, and tickets are available through Dennis Baxter at 259-1595 or Ken Gaherty at 884-2054.
In recent weeks, it has come to my attention that several major organizations, large and small, in the area are undergoing change and upheaval that have led to personal attacks. I’m not pointing fingers, but I have to weigh in on this.
I’m a big believer in the Dalai Lama’s quote: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible to be kind.” Or, at the very least, civil.
I know that on the Internet and in national government, people are quick to make personal attacks, but this is Durango, and we are better than that. Not to mention the fact that you can never convince anyone of your point of view by hurting their feelings or putting them on the defensive. People stop listening when that happens.
Which brings me to Butler’s Three Laws of Living Happily in Durango, which I have been asked to reiterate by several people:
Never say anything bad about anyone because you have no idea how they’re connected to other people in the community. I mean really, I’ve lived here most of my life, but I’m still finding folks who are related to each other, work together or work out together. It’s a small town – stuff gets around. (And especially don’t do it online, which has a life of its own.) I’m not saying don’t vent because we all need to do that, but that’s what best friends and therapists are for. And I’m also not saying don’t stand up for your beliefs because that’s important, too. It’s how you do it that makes a difference.
Volunteer for an organization that helps the most fragile in our community. Whether it’s United Way, which reaches a lot of different folks in need, feeding people at Manna Soup Kitchen, helping folks struggling to find housing through Volunteers of America, supporting women and children as they heal from violence, domestic or otherwise, through Alternative Horizons, the Southwest Safehouse or the Sexual Assault Services Organization, we want to see that you care about this community.
Finally, volunteer for something you’re passionate about because that is where you will make lifelong friends. Love hiking and biking? Trails 2000 can always use a hand. Love the arts? Volunteer at the Durango Arts Center or join Durango Friends of the Arts. Love winter and summer sports? I promise, sharing your expertise with the clients of the Adaptive Sports Association will enrich your life in unimaginable ways. Working together for a common cause is the single best way to build solid friendships and connect to the community.
So there you have it. Go out, apologize if you’ve damaged a relationship and heal. Because we really do live in a wonderful place, and it’s a matter of personal choice to care about each other even when we disagree. Especially when it’s hard.
Enjoying their anniversaries with a tot of Irish whiskey in honor of St. Paddy’s Day are Roy and Suzy Horvath (30!), Roger and Rena Cole and Matt and Ivy Patton.