Cultural champions: Patrons recognized for contributions
The local visual and performing arts scene can’t thrive on creative talent alone. It takes support of all kinds, particularly behind-the-scenes support, to keep it alive.
In an effort to recognize those who offer their money, time or guidance to the local arts scene in an unseen role, the Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture annually presents a Champion of the Arts Award to one business and one individual for consistent contributions to either visual or performance art in the community.
This year’s business recipient was Doyle Trading Consultants and the individuals honored were Harold P. Moss and his late wife Ruth.
Steve and Sibylle Doyle of Doyle Trading Consultants and Harold Moss were given original artwork from Susan Stanton and Mary Mansfield, respectively, during a presentation at City Hall in January.
“We were very, very touched,” Steve said.
High Desert Opera, a local performance-art based company that gives multiple stage productions each year, nominated Doyle Trading Consultants because of the consistent financial support and time Steve and Sibylle give every year, said Marnie Werner, High Desert Opera executive director.
Steve has performed with High Desert Opera, served as a board member and volunteered in pre-production work. The Doyles also have made financial donations to High Desert Opera, now in its 10th year.
“It’s the kind of volunteer you can’t even put a value on because they love what we are doing so much,” Werner said.
Steve said he and his wife value the cultural experience live opera and musical theater brings a community.
“I’m a huge, huge fan of the Werners, Jim and Marnie,” Steve said. “In my opinion, they are the real heroes because they do a lot with nothing. (High Desert Opera) runs on a shoestring budget, and they do these amazing productions. If you see what’s behind these productions, it’s amazing.”
The Doyles lived in New York City before moving to Grand Junction and attended numerous cultural performances in the big city, “but it never really resonated with me until I got to Grand Junction,” Steve said.
Like the Doyles, Harold and Ruth Moss lived in New York City before moving to Grand Junction and felt an immediate need to invest in the local arts scene.
When the Mosses arrived here in 1951, however, there was no outlet for visual artists.
“(Ruth) was just floored they didn’t have any places for people to see art in Grand Junction,” Harold said.
In 1953, Ruth Moss helped found The Art Center. Harold Moss, never an artist like his wife, was an ardent supporter of the gallery through financial contributions and regular appearances at exhibit openings, said Camille Silverman, executive director of The Art Center. She nominated the Mosses for this year’s award.
“Harold has been coming in, even after Ruth passed in December 2011,” Silverman said. “He loved Ruth, but he genuinely loved The Art Center. People think just artists support The Art Center, but that’s not true. Everybody gets inspired by creativity. It wasn’t just her thing. It was his thing, too.”
Harold is the last living connection to The Art Center’s founding, said Silverman, who was shocked to learn the Mosses never had received the Champion of the Arts Award for their contributions to the visual arts scene and promptly nominated them.
“How could it be anyone else but them?” Silverman asked.
The Ruth Moss Endowment established through The Art Center Foundation pays for all materials needed during the center’s Summer Art Camp for children. In addition, the endowment pays scholarships for children needing financial support for tuition.
“Every child is benefitting from the Ruth Moss Endowment,” Silverman said.
Art was such an important part of Ruth’s life that several of her paintings were given to The Art Center’s permanent collection, Harold said.
Although Harold moved to Denver in December to be near family, he made it back to Grand Junction in January to receive his award, an abstract painting from Mansfield. It is the opposite of any kind of work his wife did.
Now 96, Harold is proof that art appreciation can change over time. He hung the abstract in his Denver apartment.
“I wasn’t a great supporter of abstract art, but this art is pretty nice,” Harold said.