Getting a jump on Snowdown 2015, Durango Friends of the Arts chose steampunk as its theme for its 2014 Luncheon and Fashion Show. It was a good education and a chance to create their outfits for people who aren’t too sure what this steampunk thing is.
(It’s “Wild, Wild West” meets Victoriana meets Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.)
It’s a full day of fun, starting with a massive silent auction including jewelry, gift certificates to all of our finest dining establishments, art, handmade knitted goods and everything else one can imagine.
Tables were decorated with decorated tin cans (cooler than I can make it sound), bicycle parts, ribbons and candles. The stage had a huge wall hanging decorated with wheels and cogs, which served as a perfect backdrop for mistress of ceremonies Deborah Uroda.
After a lunch of chunky gazpacho, turkey sandwich and chicken Caesar wrap, with the DoubleTree’s famous chocolate chip cookies for dessert, the 120 guests enjoyed a well-kept Durango secret – Durango Choral Society Musical Director Linda Mack Berven’s singing of the best of The Durango Herald’s blotter to some of the great opera arias. She’s been known to whip them out at her New Year’s Eve parties, performing them in her kitchen.
Christy Livingston, longtime accompanist for the choral society and the Durango Children’s Chorale, donated her time and talent for the gig. She doesn’t begin to get the attention she deserves. Being an accompanist is a complicated job, and Livingston never misses a beat – or a note.
Mack Berven’s contention was that it’s the melody that creates the moments of passion, joy, drama and heart-wrenching tragedy, not the lyrics. (And since my personal take on operatic lyrics tends to be not that complimentary, I have to say I was convinced even before she took on the case of the dead animal that turned out to be a big pile of dryer lint; the man who swore his wife’s brain had been stolen; the cow asleep on a sofa at Northpoint Furniture Store; the elk in pain, which turned out to be an elk wooing a very confused domestic cow; and the skunk in the dumpster at the Conoco station.)
The highlight was the naked man walking down Main Avenue with a box on his head claiming he’d been hit on the head by a can of refried beans. Or perhaps it was the other naked man walking down Main – our principal thoroughfare seemed to be full of naked men, for some reason – saying the staff members of a popular Mexican restaurant had ripped his clothes off and were beating him with burritos.
These amusing ditties sung to “Carmen (the Zombie March, with a catchy refrain of ‘Called 911,’)” “The Messiah” and other favorites were a showstopper.
Whenever I hear her sing, I’m reminded of an astonishing twist of fate. Mack Berven went to college to study piano and only learned she could sing when she tried out for a choral group on a dare.
There were three special live-auction items. Uroda donated one of her fabulous meals to be shared after a private tour of Chimney Rock National Monument after it was officially closed for the season. (Really private.) Alas, it’s the same weekend as the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, so it didn’t begin to bring the money it should have. Carol Treat donated a gourmet meal for eight and a donated brand new Trek Lexa bike didn’t bring the reserve price, so it will have to be sold another way. Do I see an online auction on the horizon?
As always, it takes a lot of willing and creative hands to pull this luncheon off, about 40 this year. DFA President Treat served as event chairwoman and also worked on the food and facilities (along with Dana Wilson and Christine Rachlin) and reservations with reservation guru Myriam Palmer.
Joanie Petersen Thomas, Marcia Baxter and Cheryl Bryant put together the fashion show, with the help of area fashion purveyors Blu and Dolce boutiques, the Earthen Vessel, Eureka!, Giddy-Up 409, Iconic, La Plata Gifts at the DoubleTree, M Moose & Co. from Farmington, Overland Sheepskin Co., Rose Duds, Renae Marie, Rose Pedals and There’s No Place Like Home. They offered some steampunk creations and modern interpretations of steampunk in homage to the theme.
As always, the folks in the crowd had gone all out on their outfits, and a few were recognized with awards. Chris Dailey and his wife, Shelley Smith, took home Best of Theme. Kristen Dugan was declared the Most Creative Hat, and Tina Marie Trump claimed Funniest Hat. She had complained that she could never get those little fascinator hats to stay on, so she solved that problem by gluing one on her cowboy hat.
Wilson headed the large silent auction committee, while Caroline Todd and Barbara Morrison led the decorating efforts. Susan Welty handled publicity, Mary Orsini and Tina Marie Trump were in charge of selling DFA merchandise and Dianne Mensch and Marjie Wilson created the elegant programs. Todd, who has been the group’s photographer and historian for years documented the event for posterity.
Durango Friends of the Arts gave more than $32,000 to 29 programs provided by artists and arts organizations in 2014, including Animas High School; the Durango Children’s Chorale Music Camp; Jeff Solon’s Jazz in the School; Suzy DiSanto’s Take the Lead ballroom dancing in the schools; Music in the Mountains Goes to School; San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra; and the Stillwater Foundation.
You may notice a pattern there – while they emphasize programs that expose young people to the arts, they also supported the Library Exhibition Program at the Durango Arts Center, the Southwest Civic Winds community band, the Four Corners Film Office, the Durango Cowboy Gathering and numerous other groups and programs. If you were blown away by Merely Players’ production of “Wizard of Oz,” as I was, you can thank the DFA for helping fund it.
The money raised at the luncheon and other events during the year will be given away in 2015. The group truly is a Sweetheart of the Arts, as the Durango Arts Center dubbed it in February.
Happy Libra birthday wishes go out to Georgia Relaford, Tim Sullivan, Peggy Herrera, Brendon Shaline, Chase Collins, John Wells, Jim Burpee, Jill Rogers, Susan Kolb, Parker Lovelady, Everett Manson, Ruth Bingham, Irene Nix, Bob Galbraith, Jan Kyser and Joan Southcotte.
Someone special is celebrating his Big Four-Oh today. Richard Siegele will be celebrating from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in the Fellowship Hall at the First United Methodist Church of Durango, 2917 Aspen Drive off Florida Road. His family invites everyone to stop by to wish him happy birthday on his big day.
Here’s hoping Scott and Sharon Kuhn aren’t spending their anniversary shoveling mud.
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