Artists play violins as canvas for music festival

Elizabeth Kinahan, seen at Studio &, created her violin “Moosic to My Steers” or “Don’t Fence Me In” as part of the Violins and Vino fundraiser for Music in the Mountains. Her violin was selected as the prizewinner from 12 violins created by local artists. Enlargephoto

Courtesy of Julie Brown

Elizabeth Kinahan, seen at Studio &, created her violin “Moosic to My Steers” or “Don’t Fence Me In” as part of the Violins and Vino fundraiser for Music in the Mountains. Her violin was selected as the prizewinner from 12 violins created by local artists.

Combine intriguing art with Durango’s premier classic music festival Music in the Mountains and what do you get? Violins and Vino, a great combination in any book.

Traditionally (that means at least 20 of the festival’s 27 years), the festival has kicked off with a fundraising soirée at Toh-Atin Gallery, thanks to the generosity of hosts Mary Jane Clark and Jackson Clark. This year, the event moved from the end of January to the end of March, which made for lighter spirits all around.

Instead of a musical performance and an auction of private musical performances, this year’s festivities included an auction of violins painted and decorated by talented local artists along with just a few performances for sale – others are being used at wonderful mini-concerts and fancy dinners as fundraisers for Music in the Mountains throughout the year, including From Russia with Love in February and the upcoming April in Paris.

Twelve artists received a gleaming new $75 violin, and most said the hardest part was marring that finish to get it ready to be a “canvas.”

Sharon Abshagen, sponsored by Sorrel Sky Gallery, based her “Listening to Music in the Thin Air” on a plein air painting she had done at the site of the Festival Tent at Durango Mountain Resort, and Eileen Fjerstad’s “Symphony of Summer” also portrayed the wildflowers and dramatic mountain views of the area. Hers was sponsored by Vectra Bank.

Cindy Coleman, courtesy of Riverview Animal Hospital, created a darling homage to “Hey Diddle Diddle,” with a miniature cow leaping on a spring on the rib at the base of the neck, and the plate and spoon preparing for their dramatic escape at the bottom of the instrument’s back. Dave Sipe, sponsored by Maria’s Bookshop, also was inspired by the line, “the cat and the fiddle,” using his violin as a component in one of his chain-saw sculptures.

The Sow’s Ear and Silver Pick Lodge sponsored photographer Paul Boyer, who honored Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”; Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts supported artist Miki Harder, who saw “Nero goes to Phoenix” in the grain of her violin; and Toh-Atin sponsored its Navajo artist, Leland Holiday, who envisioned coyotes frolicking to the music made by the violinist. Perfect for her sponsor, Animas Valley Audiology, Mariah Kaminsky used her talent for portraiture to create music of another type, Pavarotti in full operatic voice. Another Sorrel Sky artist, Phyllis Stapler, didn’t just paint, she wrote a charming short story about the “Songbird in Argyle” to accompany it.

The Strater Hotel brought Barbara Edidin’s “Bright Seraphim” to the auction block. It was inspired by the baroque ceilings in Europe, with circular paintings on the back inspired by murals, including Raphael’s angel with lute. Way cool.

And Elizabeth Kinahan, with her sponsor Pine River Valley Bank, has bragging rights as the winner of the “contest,” between artists for her “Moosic to My Steers,” also known as “Don’t Fence Me In.” Complete with hand-barbed violin strings, it earned her a $1,000 prize, and her violin will be auctioned off at Pops Night in July.

In between auctioning violins, Calvin and Pat Story sold several musician packages, many with accompanying catering packages. Young violinist Chloe Trevor came complete with appetizers for 15 from Durangourmet; the purchaser of the Supreme Trio, also known as violist Philip Kram, flutist Sarah Frisof and harpist Anne Esfeller, will also enjoy a $250 gift certificate from Norton’s Catering; and the Dynamic Duo, aka concertmaster Leslie Shank and her husband, classical guitarist Joseph Hagedorn, will bring appetizers for 15 from Hot Tomatoes Café and Catering along with their performance. (Hot Tomatoes also catered the Violin and Vino party for the 130 guests, including a lovely salmon filet that was moist and delicate.)

Other musical donors were Fort Lewis College assistant professor and percussionist Jonathan Latta, who will recruit a group of local musicians for Jazz It Up, and Musical Elegance, with violinist Emmanuelle Boisvert and pianist David Korevaar, which will definitely live up to its title.

The Storys had a busy weekend, working two other charity auctions, with KDUR-FM’s Furniture as Art on Thursday and their own Treasure Auction event during last weekend. I’m guessing it’s really quiet at their house as he rests his voice.

Kudos to the organizing committee, Chairwoman Jill Ward, Nancy Fisher (who made the best cocktail sauce ever for the big silver bowl of shrimp), Pamela Hasterok, Mary Ann McCarthy, Anna Passalaqua, Nancy Peake, Georgeann Reitz, Annie Simonson and Carol Treat for a lovely evening, which raised about $20,000.

Thanks also to Star Liquors for the titular vino and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for the scrumptious truffles.

Partygoers also got a sneak peek at the upcoming festival with Music Director and 2012 Latin Grammy nominee Guillermo Figueroa performing “Insula” from his “Cordero: Caribbean Concertos for Guitar and for Violin” recording; the Alison Brown Band; Korevaar on Gershwin’s Concerto in F; and a return to Durango of Rachel Barton Pine, who wowed Durangoans as a guest artist with the San Juan Symphony in 2009 and has only grown in artistry and confidence since then.

The entire program is available online at Tickets go on sale April 15.


Hoping for April showers for their birthdays are Mary Catherine Baty, David Best III, Micah Priest, Dorman McShan, Jennifer McLaughlin, Kip Stransky, Holly Chavez, Mark Donahue, Larry House, John Lavengood, Anne Hani, Ed Cash, Wayne Hose, Dennis Polsfut, Verlena Collentine, Arden Peters, Charlie Hakes, Doug Shand, Nika Patterson, Josh Poole, Kyle Cheesewright, Judy Fairchild, Nikolai Bohachevsky, Aimee Martin, Roman Speegle, Barbara Ugai, Mike Brinnon, Lin Lewis, Wayne Ruby, Kurt Campbell, Nancy Ottman, Chad Tidwell, Cameron Delacey, Vance Bulen, Mya Oyler, Luke Stetler, Marilyn Folk, Fred Gale, Steve Scott, Anya Howell, Sarah Law, Alan Bohachevsky, Mallory Byrd, Marcia Heidenreich, Denise Simonson, Joyce Hondru, Jacob Ward, Michael Pratt, Lynda Morris, Kim Hobby, Haley Fleming, Anne Swanson, Haley Cotgageorge, Lillian Boe, Randy Bondow, Jessica Cox, Bella Kidd, Ivey Patton, Don Baker and Jim Edmanson.

Birthday greetings go across the miles to dear Rosemary Krass in Greeley.


When the American Association of University Women chose Dinah Swan as their speaker for its annual Book and Author Luncheon, they got a primer on Southern manners from the Southern belle.

Swan spoke about her writing career, including two mysteries, Cana Rising and Now Playing in Cana, which are set in a mythical town in Mississippi. She said there are three questions northern Mississippi residents ask: “Who you kin to?” “Which county are you from?” and “Where do you worship?”

Swan, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Mississippi, said those questions can present some challenges for folks who are not from the state.

“I know many a family who joined the Unitarian Church so their kids would have an answer to that last question,” she said.

Swan also talked about the difference in sense of community. When her car broke down in the post office parking lot in Oxford, Miss., everyone stopped to offer help. When the same car broke down in the parking lot at the Boulder post office – that car did not like post offices – no one stopped.

The event, which took place March 23, was held at the Vallecito Room at Fort Lewis College, where Sodexo prepared a diverse luncheon of salads and utterly fabulous brownies. Funds raised will go to AAUW’s National Scholarship Fund (more than $4.3 million in scholarships this year alone) and the chapter’s Cheryl Jackson Scholarship, which members are working to endow.

The organizing committee was led by Megan McGrath, with help from Teresa Jordan, Grace Deltscheff, Marilyn Sandstrom, Bernardine Cox, Lou Falkenstein, K Redford, M.J. Moseley, FLC President Dene Kay Thomas and Barbara Shore, who had ably led the committee for the last two luncheons.


I’m personally looking forward to the Animas Museum’s recreation of a third class high tea on the doomed Titanic, which will take place April 12, with doors opening at 5:45 p.m. and dinner, er, tea, served at 6:30 p.m. Brianna McCormick, the museum’s assistant, said they have been having a blast putting it together, researching the menu and planning appropriate entertainment for those who, like most of us, would not have been in first class with Col. Astor.

It promises to be a memorable evening marking the 101st anniversary of the tragedy.

Tickets are $25, and are available at the museum, or by visiting www.animasmuseum/events and clicking on PayPal by the event. Tickets must be purchased by Tuesday.


Enjoying some April flowers for their anniversaries are Ken and Paula Seay, John and Diane Knutson, Mike and Paula Kirchner, Bud and Sandy Beebe, Kyle and Cory Kindle, Guy and Beverly Tomberlin, Dale and Reba Warren and Charles and Janet Williams.


I’m off for a few days, so Neighbors will return April 13.


The scene on the back Elizabeth Kinahan’s violin is as detailed as the front. Her violin will be auctioned off this summer during Music in the Mountains’ Pops Night. Enlargephoto

Courtesy of Chris Marona/Music in the Mountains Courtesy of Chris Marona/Music in the Mountains

The scene on the back Elizabeth Kinahan’s violin is as detailed as the front. Her violin will be auctioned off this summer during Music in the Mountains’ Pops Night.