GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Each year, the Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture recognizes an individual(s) and a business, both of whom have contributed significantly to the arts locally.
If not for the generosity of certain individuals many cultural events and public artworks would simply not be available to the general public.
This year's Champion of the Arts awards go to Steve and Sibylle Doyle of Doyle Trading Consultants, and Harold Moss and his late wife, Ruth Moss. The awards - original artwork by Susan Stanton and Mary Mansfield - were presented to the winners at a city council meeting Jan. 16.
INDIVIDUAL(S) ART CHAMPION WINNER
Art Center Executive Director Camille Silverman nominated the Mosses for their longtime support of the Art Center in Grand Junction. Ruth Moss, who died in December 2011, was the last living founder of the Art Center, established in 1953.
After her death, Harold Moss, 93, continued to visit the Art Center's exhibits each week, donate money or in-kind services, and bring in new members, Silverman said. He sponsored the Art Center's recent Demo Night in honor of Ruth.
"They've been huge donators and volunteers for over 60 years," Silverman said.
Harold, who moved to a Denver retirement home in November, but attended the awards presentation, spoke by phone Monday about his wife, Ruth.
"When Ruth was in high school, her art instructor told her mom and dad she should go to art school," he said.
But it was during the Depression, and there wasn't enough money for school until she married years later. For six years the couple lived in New York City where they visited numerous museums and art centers.
"Then we came back to Denver and there were art centers there, too," Harold said. "When we came to Grand Junction (around 1951) she was floored it did not have an art center where people could see local art."
The Mosses bought a small house on Seventh Street, fixed it up, and it became the first Art Center. More property was purchased over the next 10 years, and eventually the current Art Center, located at 1803 Seventh St., was built.
Ruth Moss showed her artwork - mostly oil paintings - all over the Western Slope, and donated several pieces to The Art Center's permanent collection.
"Ruth (also) started an endowment fund through The Art Center Foundation to help children go to art camp during the summer," Harold said.
BUSINESS ART CHAMPION WINNER
Marnie and Jim Werner of High Desert Opera nominated the winners of the business Champion of the Arts award: Steve and Sibylle Doyle and Doyle Trading Consultants.
"Fifty-percent of our revenue (if we're sold out) has to come from donors," High Desert Executive Director Marnie Werner said. "It means everything - that support."
The Doyles have also been important volunteers, she added.
"Steve has been a chorus member for a lot of our productions. He's helped set up and take down sets, brought food and drinks to the crew. He's been a board member. He's been a big part of all of it," Werner said.
"They're great friends and encouragers of the arts. It meant so much to us to find a way to thank them."
The High Desert Opera was founded in 2003, to "bring Grand Opera to the Grand Valley and western Colorado and to keep this classical art form alive and accessible," according to its website.
They seek to produce "master works" that are "uplifting and inspirational," Werner said.
High Desert Opera produces an annual Broadway musical performed on New Year's Eve, and an opera each summer.
In a news release Steve Doyle stated the reason for their support: "Sibylle and I are very fortunate to be in a position to help support organizations, who are comprised of people who passionately give so much of themselves and who reveal in their singing voices, their musical instruments and their acting skills the true beauty and happiness of life."
The arts and culture commission solicits local artists each year, from which the board purchases the artwork awards. The Doyles received a tryptic collage from Stanton, and Moss was given an abstract painting by Mansfield.