In a rare occurrence, the Durango Arts Center’s Sweetheart of the Arts celebration actually took place on Valentine’s Day this year.
The honorees were two couples who have made a huge difference in the local arts scene, Debra Parmenter and Terry Bacon and Don and Judy Hayes.
We were able to sit in the theater because these four people were key players in saving the arts center from what appeared to be a certain demise several years ago.
And to top it off, they’re artists in their own right. Parmenter’s photographs, primarily big, beautiful, intimate looks at flowers, were the first online exhibit the DAC offered, and Judy Hayes has worked in several media. Her very first painting was hidden away in a back corner of the Barbara Conrad Gallery, which was exhibiting the honorees’ work, but a multitude of multimedia pieces showcasing a long career, were also on the walls.
In addition to being a businessman, Bacon is an author and poet, with several of his poems enlarged and interspersed among the photographs and artwork throughout the gallery. His valentine to “Sixty-four,” a woman waiting to see a doctor after clearly having been the victim of domestic abuse, made me cry right there in front of all the fancily dressed guests, and I had heard him read the poem about the rocking horse put out to pasture years ago, but it touched me just the same again.
Don Hayes is an artist of a different sort. A retired banker, not only is he an art lover – hey, artists need an audience, after all – he’s a talented chef. (He studied the art of French cuisine in France, and I once had the honor of enjoying the fruits of his labors in that regard. Ooh, là là!)
The evening started with goodies in the gallery prepared by Carol Bruno, including barbecue Italian meatballs, chicken with mushrooms in white wine sauce, artichoke dip, mozzarella salad, deviled eggs and shrimp with cocktail sauce. Ryan Lowe and the Ore House donated a ceviche and bruschetta with wild mushrooms.
Karren Little, Nancy van Mols, Christine Rachlin and Susan Weirather served as the cuisine crew, keeping dishes stocked.
Ingrid Lincoln kept thing mellow on her harp as guests filtered into the theater. Both couples had some special people in the full house.
For the Hayeses, it was her children Moni Grushkin, with her husband, Jonas, of Durango; Elizabeth Capdevila from Denver, Jenny Helling and her partner, Jeff Day, from Novato, California; and Michael Helling from Austin, Texas. Judy Hayes’ sister Jeannie Burroughs came from Milwaukee for the evening, as did two friends from her “birthday girls” group in Austin, Annie Brodnax and Betsy Henderson.
Unfortunately, neither Don Hayes’ children, nor Bacon’s daughter could be there, and all but one of the grandchildren were tied up at swim meets or were out of town or in college.
On the Parmenter/Bacon side there were also several folks who came to cheer them on, including her children, Darrin Parmenter and guest Beth Seran, and Shalley Parmenter, with her husband, Tom Styner; and their son, Jen Styner, all of Durango, Her cousin Cathy Neelan and her husband, Rick Fisher, from Steamboat Springs; and niece Lindsey Petersen, her husband, Brandon; and their children Remington and Eruka, from Colorado City also attended.
The evening was a combination of entertainment and homage. À la Côte, featuring Jeff Berman on bass, Sunny Gable on violin and vocals and Jeff Nelson on guitar played music that sounded very much like the soundtrack to a 1950s romp on the Riviera. It was both performance and a nod to the Hayeses’ love of France.
Moni Grushkin was tagged to pay homage to the Hayeses and shared recollections of a mother who wanted her children to be creative – building their own Barbie house, for example.
Half & Half, Niles Bruno, Ricci Dawson, Matt Kramer and Carleen Utterback, nailed the doo-wop and rock ‘n’ roll era of Bacon’s and Parmenter’s youth. Noting the couple’s love of classical music, the quartet launched into their first “classical” piece, the fourth movement from “The William Tell Overture,” which quickly morphed into its more pop culture counterpart, “The Lone Ranger” theme song.”
Dawson has undergone some intense cancer treatment over the last year or so – at one point losing her voice – so it was particularly heartening to see and hear her in full beautiful tenor.
Then Swan and Figgs did their best George Burns/Gracie Allen imitation to share the stories of Bacon and Parmenter. Figgs read a poem Bacon had written for his wife, a tough act to follow for every other man in the audience trying to be romantic for Valentine’s Day.
Cookies and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory truffles awaited guests for a sweet finale.
Kudos go to the organizing committee, Swan, Lisa Mackey, Jeannie Berger, Diane Panelli and DAC staff. Mackey headed up the program effort, creating a booklet full of tributes from friends, organizations and family, which brought in $20,000 for the DAC’s coffers all by itself.
Wishing mightily for snow with every birthday candle they blow out are Patrick Cunnion, Cullen Beach, Ellen Patterson, Lisa Schwinghammer, Jane Maxey, Jo Etta Galbraith, Hall Sippy, Meade Harbison, Miriam Bonkowske, Brenda Nelson, Joey Kloepfer, Lydia Orlowski, Lynne Rudolph, David Wylie, Mike Grandin, Joel Priest, Jim West, Peggy Bull, Darlene Bliss, Emily McCardle, Madeline Shaline, Dick Pearson, Maryann Fassett, Debbie Chilcoat, Bill Phillips, Ellen Patterson, April Albert and Betsy Petersen.
Special greetings to Carol Treat on her big day.
My apologies for missing Saturday’s column. I was involved in a complicated story and ran out of time, something that’s happening occasionally because of my news responsibilities.
Here’s hoping these couples still are in the mood for romance after Valentine’s Day: Randy and Jeanine Puskas, Thomas and Marna Burnett, Scott and Julie McCallister and Alan and Pat Stelter.
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