Twin trumpets sounded with a flourish, inviting an estimated 450 guests into lunch at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion in downtown Dallas on Friday, November 16. It was a fitting start to the 30th annual Obelisk Awards, which are presented by the Business Council for the Arts to herald individuals and institutions serving arts and cultural organizations in North Texas.
Once guests including Kim Butler, Michael Cain, Regina Montoya and Paul Coggins, and Mary and Bob Potter had filed in, Rick del Monte, the council’s board chairman, welcomed everyone and thanked the event’s key organizers. Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger were the honorary chairs, Rick pointed out, while Katherine Wagner is the BCA’s CEO, and Victoria and Hunter McGrath served as the luncheon chairs.
Victoria and Hunter then took the lectern to thank Dallas artist Polly Gessell, who designed this year’s unique glass Obelisk Awards, and to bring on the Plus String Quartet, which proceeded to serenade the guests with works by Haydn and Beethoven. As the attendees enjoyed lunch—pumpkin soup, smoked paprika chicken breast salad and a chocolate parfait or raspberry trifle—emcee Mary Anne Alhadeff began handing out the glass.
The first to be honored with an Obelisk was Craig Hall, who was named 2018’s Business Champion of the Arts. In his acceptance talk, Craig said that BCA founder Ray Nasher, who “was a mentor to me early on,” championed the “intersection between art and business.” So his Hall Group, Craig went on, is dedicated to putting art in its buildings—which “makes a setting for great family photos!”
Next it was time for LaMonte Thomas of CIGNA to accept the award for Arts Education. “I said I wasn’t going to cry, and I won’t,” LaMonte promised. He was followed by Jason Downing, whose Deloitte firm was honored for Arts Partnerships in the Large category. “Craig’s right,” Jason smiled. “I have great family photos in front of his buildings. So he’s telling the truth!”
With that, CEO Dev Shapiro accepted the Arts Partnership Obelisk in the Small category for his Selig Polyscope Company, and Anne and Steve Stodghill were recognized with a Juror’s Award for their work with the Dallas Film Society. Said Anne: “Movies can make heroes out of everyday people and transform the way we live.” President and CEO Kyle Ogden represented his Thanks-Giving Foundation, which snagged the honor for Distinguished Cultural Organziation, and Teresa Coleman Wash was honored as 2018’s Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader.
Concluding the program, Angie Parra, a board member for Junior Players, accepted the award for Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus, while The Shops at Willow Bend was honored for New Initiatives. Marketing director Amy Medford accepted the Obelisk for Willow Bend, which has provided almost 26,000 square feet of space for North Texas Performing Arts, making it the largest performing arts center for youth in the country.
* Photo credit: Holt Haynsworth