Despite Rain Clouds In The Area, Business Council For The Art’s Obelisk Award Luncheon VIPs Were High And Dry At The Mayfair’s Sky Room

Kevin Hurst and Jeff Byron

High above Turtle Creek in the Mayfair’s Sky Room, the Obelisk Award Luncheon sponsors, honorees, nominators and Business Council for the Arts board members had a spectacular view of the rain clouds creeping into the area as they gathered on the evening of Wednesday, September 27. While the rest of the world slammed on the brakes and waited for the green light, these art-loving types sipped beverages and sampled pass-arounds.

Thanks to Neiman’s Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst, the event was to thank a covey of sponsors, honoree and those who had nominated the candidates like Lee and Sarah Papert, Dotti Reeder, Jennifer and Keith Cerny, Mark Solomon, Lynne and Eddie Reyes, Diana Pollak and Mark Solomon.

Dotti Reeder

Keith and Jennifer Cerny

Looking like he had just returned from a weekend yacht stay in the Mediterranean, Jeff Byron arrived midway into the room. He admitted that since his retirement from NM, he hadn’t worn a tie. In fact, he had discovered that the family Scottish terrier, Hayden, was a snoozer during the day instead of anxiously awaiting his return.

Nasher Sculpture Center Jeremy Strick was smiling over the announcement of the Nasher Prize Laureate the week before at The Warehouse. But he added, “Now the real work is ahead.”

2017 Obelisk Award

As the rain clouds delivered their wet stuff on the glistening streets below, sculptor Jim Bowman‘s newest version of the Obelisk Award was revealed that will be presented to the following:

  • The Arts Partnership Award recognizes businesses that have provided sustained support to an arts/cultural organization for three or more years.
    • Large Business (more than 500 employees locally) — Target
    • Medium Business (between 50 and 500 employees locally) — Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Richardson
    • Small Business (fewer than 50 employees locally) — Angelika Film Center – Dallas
  • The New Initiatives Award recognizes businesses for supporting an innovative arts/cultural program created within the past three years.
    • Large Business (more than 500 employees locally) — Corgan
    • Medium Business (between 50-500 employees locally) — West Village
    • Small Business (fewer than 50 employees locally) — C.C. Communications, LLC
  • The Distinguished Cultural Organization Award is given to recognize one outstanding nonprofit organization for a project or program that has enhanced the community through partnership with a business. — The Cliburn
  • The Business Champion for the Arts Award recognizes long-term leadership and commitment to arts/culture by a business executive (president, CEO, partner). — Nancy Carlson
  • The Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader Award recognizes an arts leader who has consistently demonstrated vision, impact, innovation, and successful alignment with business and community partners throughout their tenure. — Keith Cerny nominated by Deutsche Bank Trust Co., NA/ Deutsche Bank Wealth Management.
  • The Arts Education Award recognizes one outstanding business for its support of arts education programs. — Neiman Marcus Group
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing lifetime advancement of the arts. — Ask Me About Art/Gail Sachson
  • The Community Champion Award recognizing community arts advancement — Kathy Litinas.

Katherine Wagner

Steve Roth

Minutes after BCA Founder’s Chair Nancy Nasher arrived, Business Council for the Arts CEO Katherine Wagner and Obelisk Luncheon Co-Chair Steve Roth announced that plans were heading forward for the fundraising event at the Belo with Dallas Symphony Orchestra principle trumpet Ryan Anthony.

Niki and Ryan Anthony

Nancy Nasher and Gail Sachson

Looking at the crowd of art lovers and supporters, Nancy, who admits to being basically shy, said with a smile that she felt right at home. After all, these were people like Gail Sachson, and they were like family.

Obelisk Awards Luncheon Honored The Partnership Of Business And The Arts With A Heartfelt Theme

The sun was shining on Friday, November 13, and the temps were just a kiss of perfection. It was just one of those rare, perfect days in North Texas. Sure, it was Friday the 13th, but that’s what scary movies were about and old wives tales.

In fact just the opposite, awards were rightfully being hand out around noon and heroes were being honored. Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks was regaling luncheoners at the Stars and Stripes Film Festival fundraiser at the Dallas Country Club.

Downtown at the Fairmont, oldtimers of the Business Council for the ArtsObelisk Award luncheon were in for a surprise. “A symbol of excellence awarded to businesses and business leaders for their support of the arts and culture in North Texas” had gotten a facelift, thanks to local glass artist Jim Bowman.

Running pretty much on schedule, Dr. Eric Olson, despite his heavy credential that include countless papers, expertise on heart disease and being a member of the UT Southwestern’s “Transactivators,” did a gangbuster job telling the sold-out audience how the heart’s importance ranged from the biological to the metaphysical. His talk was eloquent, but never went over the heads of guests.

To top off his talk, he donned his guitar and his harmonica and sang Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” The review was a standing ovation.

Following his address, North Texas Public Broadcasting President/CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff announced the recipients of the Obelisk awards. Drum roll! Here they are:

  • Arts Partnership Award — Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods nominated by University of North Texas, College of Music; Neiman Marcus Willow Bend nominated by North Texas Performing Arts and Plano Children’s Theatre and The Dallas Weekly nominated by Dallas Black Dance Theatre
  • New Initiatives Award — Virgin America nominated by Dallas Film Society; NorthPark nominated by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Beyond The Horizon nominated by Undermain Theater
  • Arts Education Award — Atmos Energy Corporation nominated by WaterTower Theatre and Stephen A. Waldman of Waldman Bros nominated by Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
  • Outstanding Alumnus Award — Edwin Cabaniss of The Kessler Theater nominated by Steven Roth
  • Outstanding Nonprofit Organization Award — Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts nominated by Neiman Marcus

The brief acceptance speeches ranged from Nancy Nasher’s poignant acceptance on behalf of NorthPark to Kessler Theater’s Cabaniss, who recalled Business Council founder/the late Ray Nasher’s response to two questions posed during a hard-hat tour of the Nasher Sculpture Center:

  • Where did he get a passion for the arts? — “It was my mom and dad. They didn’t have a lot of means. We were living in the boroughs of New York. But they made a commitment to me and my siblings that at least once a month they would take us in to the city to explore some of these wonderful creations and some of this great art that was taking place in New York City. A lot of those times they had to go when the museum was free or when the symphony was playing at a discounted time period.”
  • Why Dallas? — “Although I grew up in New York, Dallas is home.”


Round Robin November 13: Holy Moly! Seven Events In One Day

Thursday, November 13 was jam packed all day long. Hmm, seems like every day in November is turning out to be like that. Here’s the report on events from all over the area.

Obelisk Awards Luncheon

For more than two and a half decades, the Business Council for the Arts has been recognizing North Texas businesses and business leaders who believe in the “transformative power of arts and culture” with something called the Obelisk Awards. The nonprofit group did it for the 26th time, when it hosted a well-attended luncheon awards ceremony at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas.

With luminaries in attendance including Todd Meier, Jeremy Strick, and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger—Nancy’s late father, Ray Nasher, founded the council in 1988—the luncheon was kicked off by Larry Glasgow, the nonprofit’s board chair, and emceed by Mary Anne Alhadeff.

Before Mary Anne oversaw the presentation of the 2014 Obelisks, though, attendees listened to remarks by luncheon Co-chairs Anne and Bernie DiFlore, Business Council CEO Katherine Wagner, and Comerica Bank chief economist Robert Dye. (Who knew the bank’s senior VP is also an accomplished painter?!) Then it was Mary Anne’s turn in the spotlight, as she disclosed that the event’s nine honorees had donated a total of $1.25 million to Dallas-Fort Worth arts groups in one year alone.

With that, it was off to the races with the 2014 Obelisks.

First up was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Brian Shivers, a board member with the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden for nearly 30 years. Accepting the award, Brian thanked Dallas “for being a place that supports and encourages big ideas.”

Crayton Webb*

Crayton Webb*

Next came the New Initiative Award, which recognizes businesses for a new initiative with a single focus. The winners this year in the Small, Medium, and Large Business categories, respectively, were Eletorre, which manages community relations projects and web-based communications for nonprofits, like the Bridge-o-Rama event; Gold Metal Recyclers, which nurtures a variety of arts and cultural organizations in North Texas; and Mary Kay Inc., which has helped underwrite the Women of WaterTower Theatre group, among many other initiatives.

Then came the Arts Partnership Award, which honors companies that have supported one or more arts and cultural groups in North Texas for at least three years. The 2014 winners in the Small, Medium, and Large Business categories were, respectively, Fantastic Moves, a moving company that’s helped The Women’s Chorus of Dallas move pianos and risers over many years on a pro-bono basis; law firm Vinson & Elkins, which for decades has represented KERA pro-bono and supported other groups like the Dallas Museum of Art; and Pioneer Natural Resources, which, among other things, has made a 5-year commitment to the Dallas Theater Center’s educational programming for at-risk teens.

Barbara Daseke and Ben Fischer and Laree Hulshoff*

Barbara Daseke and Ben Fischer and Laree Hulshoff*

The luncheon concluded with two single presentations: the Arts Education Award and the Arts Leadership Award. The former, which recognizes business support for arts education programs, went to Carey International Inc., a transportation provider that helped the Nasher Sculpture Center expose its 10-year-anniversary project, Nasher XChange, to school and community groups. Finally, the Arts Leadership Award for long-term vision and commitment was presented to Barbara Daseke. She was recognized for her fundraising efforts on behalf of WaterTower Theatre, TACA, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Said Mary Anne Alhedeff of the spiky-haired Daseke as the luncheon drew to a close: “She is a one-woman dynamo. Perhaps this should be called the ‘Wonder Woman’ Award!”

Affordable Living Initiative Construction Celebration

It’s not every day that construction takes place to provide affordable living for low-income families, but on this day, it got underway with a celebration at Jubilee Park. Here’s a report from the field:

“In a joint partnership, Jubilee Park & Community Center, PlainsCapital Bank and City of Dallas Housing/Community Services Department launched a large-scale, four-phase affordable housing initiative that will result in 28 residences for low-income families in southeast Dallas over the next three years. Today, a construction celebration was held to commemorate this partnership and future homeownership for the families who will reside in these new homes. This event was held in Jubilee Park where the first six homes are being built.

Jubilee group**

Jubilee group**

“Representatives from Jubilee Park & Community Center, City of Dallas and PlainsCapital Bank, the families who will take ownership of these new homes, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings attended the groundbreaking event. PlainsCapital Bank’s live mascot, Mo the Buffalo even made an appearance. At the close of the event, PlainsCapital Bank North Dallas President Doug Cook and Jubilee Park & Community Center Board Chairman Bill Addy competed in a Bobcat front-end loader race.

Mo and the Bobcat RAce**

Mo and the Bobcat Race**

“’The primary goal of the affordable housing project is to provide homeownership opportunities for low-income families who would otherwise not have the means to become homeowners,’ said Jubilee Park & Community Center Chief Executive Officer Ben Leal. ‘Through this partnership with City of Dallas and PlainsCapital Bank, we have a unique opportunity to be a part of making the American dream of homeownership a reality for these families in our community.’

“The cost of each new home is approximately $125,000. Both Jubilee Park and the City of Dallas will contribute a combined $50,000 toward the total cost of each home.

“Homebuyers will secure a mortgage of $70,000 to $85,000, based on their income. “Buyer Assistance” funds of $20,000 may be available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Builder construction loans for phases II through IV will be provided by PlainsCapital Bank.

“Homebuyers must meet the income limits set by the City of Dallas which stipulate they have an annual income of 140 percent or less of the current HUD Metro Fair Market Rent Area estimate of the median family income for Dallas ($67,500). Homebuyers will also have the opportunity to participate in pre- and post-homebuyer education classes that will be provided by the East Dallas Community Organization.

“The single-family homes are approximately 1,300 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two-car garage. Energy efficient appliances will be included in the purchase price. Homebuyers have five home models to choose from. All homes will be LEED silver certified.

“Construction for the first six homes broke ground in September and are slated for completion in early 2015. Construction for the final phase of this project will begin in late 2015, with completion in the fourth quarter of 2016.

“East Dallas Community Organization is managing the construction, identifying and qualifying homebuyers, hiring building contractors, managing the purchase of lots and providing necessary paperwork associated with an affordable housing transaction to city, state and federal governing bodies and the designated title company. Woodmere Properties, who has built numerous affordable housing projects in Dallas, was selected as the home builder. ”

Chick Lit KO Party

Announcements evidently were high in demand for the upcoming 2015 season. As reported earlier, the Chick Lit-ters revealed their plans at a cocktail reception at Roberta Roller Rabbit for the Friday, April 24th luncheon. Wendy Messmann will be chairing the annual event at Brook Hollow benefiting Community Partners of Dallas that will feature author Stacey Ballis. Joining Wendy will be Honorary Chair Carol Seay.

2015 No Tie Dinner & Dessert Party KO

Over at Scott + Cooner, 150 enjoyed a cocktail reception and learned about the plans for the 2015 No Tie Dinner & Dessert Party scheduled for Saturday, March 28 at the Frontier of Flight Museum. Once David Nelson and Dennis Kershner will co-chair the event with Jody and Sterling O’Donnell serving at honorary co-chairs. The theme — “Under the Yum Yum Tree”!

DIFFA Holiday Wreath Collection

The DIFFA gang didn’t so much announce but rather kicked of the momentum for the season with its annual Holiday Wreath Collection at the Galleria. Despite evening rush-home traffic, folks Wreath Co-Chair Matt Wilkerson and Carol Quist joined DIFFA/Dallas Chairman of the Board Clint Bradley to checkout more than 40 designer wreaths were up for bid that had been created by individuals and companies like Stanley Korshak, Tiffany & Co., AIDS Arms, AIDS Services of Dallas, Gallerie Noir, Sissy’s Southern Kitchen (Lisa Garza), Gensler Architects, Swarvoski, Club Monaco, Jennifer Miller, RSVP Design Services, Dear Clark Hair Studio, Nine-Eighteen, Tatyana Murphy, Lucky Dog Barkery and Westin Galleria Dallas Hotel to name a few.

Playbills, Popcorn And The Press

Back at Fair Park the Press Club of Dallas presented Dallas Summer Musical’s Michael Jenkins with the 2014 Newsmaker of the Year Award. Pat Porter chaired the event — “Playbills, Popcorn and the Press” — along with Honorary Co-Chairs Cindy and Chuck Gummer at the Music Hall. Of course, it wouldn’t be an event honoring Michael without a bit of song and dance. That was provided by Cathy Rigby and Rachel York.

Encore for Advocacy

Speaking of music, Mavis Staples was blowing the roof off the Majestic for the Encore for Advocacy benefiting the Dallas Advocacy Center. Why even the Dallas Morning News’ special contributor Thor Christensen was impressed by her performance describing her as having “rarely sung with as much intensity as she did Thursday night at the Majestic Theatre, where she roared, snarled and scatter up a maelstrom.” Thor also gave a tip-of-the-hat to fellow performer Patty Griffin who shared the stage with Mavis.

* Photo provided by WaterTower Theatre
** Photos provided by PlainsCapital Bank

Art and Commerce Merge as Business Council for the Arts Gives Its 2011 Obelisk Awards

When attorney Mike Birrer accepted the 2011 Obelisk Award from the Business Council for the Arts on behalf of his Carrington Coleman law firm last Wednesday, Birrer humorously recalled his own brush with the arts back in grade school. When young Mike turned in an artistic depiction of a “baby chick,” he recalled, his teacher Mrs. Nelson sent the picture back with these three words written across the top: “Not very good.”

In contrast to Mrs. Nelson’s discouragingly blunt style, the Obelisk Awards are intended to encourage those who practice art — and commerce – in an effort to enhance Dallas-Fort Worth’s quality of life and economic development. The Nov. 2 “Obelisk Luncheon and Awards Ceremony” at The Fairmont Dallas drew a crowd of more than 340 people from local companies and arts groups who watched as the nonprofit BCA gave a total of nine awards.

Proclaimed Katherine Wagner, the business council’s CEO: “Today we recognize the companies and business leaders whose commitment to this region is creating a better tomorrow for all of us.”  

First, though, there was a bit of soulful hilarity. Just as guests were finishing up their lunches, dancers from the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, cleverly clad as waiters and waitresses, broke out in frenzied dance to a disco song. Tom Leatherbury, the BCA Chair, mounted the stage and said with a laugh, “They asked Nancy [Nasher] and me to do the encore, but we didn’t.” Nasher, the business council’s Founder’s Chair, was a tad more serious during her remarks, pointing out that the arts generates “over $1 billion annually” for the North Texas economy.

Then, it was on to the much-anticipated awards.

Birrer, of Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, accepted the Arts Partnership Award for mid-size businesses, for Carrington Coleman’s support of the Creative Arts Center of Dallas. The Arts Partnership Award for small businesses went to SullivanPerkins for its support of Kitchen Dog Theater, while the Arts Partnership award in the large-business category went to the Texas Instruments Foundation, which supported Richardson’s Eisemann Center.

Gene Jones

Three firms also received New Initiatives Awards. RD2 Inc. nabbed the honor in the small business category for its support of the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, while the Dallas Cowboys Football Club and the Jerry Jones Family were given the award for mid-size businesses, for their decision to integrate a “stunning art collection” into the design of Cowboys Stadium. (Gene Jones accepted the award for the family and the club.) Wells Fargo snagged the award in the large business category, for the bank’s support of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Three additional individual awards were given out as well. The Arts Leadership Award went to Jennifer Junker, president of the John F. Clark Co., for her work on behalf of the Trinity River Audubon Center. Ron Whitehead, city manager for the Town of Addison, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his efforts to make Addison a place where art is an “accessible, integral part of everyday life.” And Capital One Bank took the Arts Education Award, for its sponsorship of the Dallas Wind Symphony.

Tom Leatherbury, Jorge Calderon, Greg Mangum

Accepting the Education award for Capital One, the bank’s Jorge Calderon said

Nancy Nasher Haemisegger and Pat Porter

that it was Pat Porter, the BCA’s former CEO, and the late businessman/art collector Raymond D. Nasher (who helped found the business council in the late 1980s), who first “got me involved in the community.” Today Calderon sits on the BCA board.   

The banker’s story was personal, sure. But it was also a powerful testament to the BCA’s very real, long-term — and growing — influence on art and commerce in North Texas.