TOP is fashion-filled, creative extravaganza

Parties are always fun, but organizing TOP – a fashion show to support adult, cutting-edge programming at the Durango Arts Center – is just as fun for, from left, Diane Welle, Debbie Wright, chairwoman Regina Hogan, Phyllis Max and Pamela Hasterok. They designed the exhibit before the show in Welle’s studio. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Photo Divine

Parties are always fun, but organizing TOP – a fashion show to support adult, cutting-edge programming at the Durango Arts Center – is just as fun for, from left, Diane Welle, Debbie Wright, chairwoman Regina Hogan, Phyllis Max and Pamela Hasterok. They designed the exhibit before the show in Welle’s studio.

Adding up the hours it takes to make the TOP party and fashion show a success would result in an astonishing number. Amortize those hours over the fun created and the benefit to the Durango Arts Center (and thus us), and any accountant would call those hours a good investment.

The event, in its third year, took place Friday at the DAC. But TOP, an event by New Face Productions, actually began in the spring, when area artists picked up their “canvas,” a high-quality T-shirt. From there, the sky’s the limit, with the only requirement that at least some part of the shirt becomes an element in the final outfit.

The sheer creativity and expertise is awe-inspiring, especially for folks like me who don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. Three judges, Ilze Aviks, Susan Rogers and Becky Surmeier had their work cut out for them, choosing entries for both a silent auction and the fashion show and live auction. Each of the judges created a piece of her own, demonstrating their own talents. Rogers literally unraveled the T-shirt and crocheted a top using the fabric, and Surmeier used some of the fabric as the foundation for a glitzy bracelet.

Members of the organizing committee, which was led by Regina Hogan for a successful second year, created a dramatic exhibit showcasing the silent-auction items in the Barbara Conrad Gallery. They used bright colors and fabric, feathers and an inspired blowup of details from the pieces. I guess between Hogan’s years as a curator and Diane Welle’s as a professional costumer, the committee was as loaded with talent as the entrants.

The other committee members were Carol Salomon, Debbie Wright, Jane Gould, Karen Thompson, Krista Harris, Pamela Hasterok, Sandra LeFevre, Christina Erteszek, Heather Martinez, Kate Skrainka, Mary Nowotny, JM Jones and Phyllis Max (who could seriously have a career as a model).

Jimmy Nicholson of Durangourmet provided an enticing array of tapas, including cured smoked paprika tuna loin with roasted red, yellow and poblano peppers; five-spice duck breast with hoisin-sauce glace; goat cheese-mushroom-arugula empanadas; tandoori chicken and raita; Moroccan olive pesto-grilled bread; smoked beef tenderloin with romesco sauce; and golden beets with goat cheese dressing.

For a sweet – or table of sweets – after the show, there were platters of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory truffles, cookies by Barbara Mills and pastries by Bread. Stan Crapo of Star Liquors donated the wine.

The artists who had pieces selected for the silent auction included Michal Abraham, Betty Bozeman, Daria Caruso, Krista Harris, Elizabeth Hogan, Karole Mazeika, Dottie Robinson, Jill Carlson, Eleanor Greenbank, Bethany Bachman, Greta Kirker, Nancy Portera and Eliane Viner. Robinson won the silent auction People’s Choice Award, which came with a $500 prize.

I have high hopes for the future of the textile arts after seeing what Yan Yan Harris, a Bayfield High School student, created in her gorgeous embroidered piece, and Allee McKown’s “Sassy Skirt,” which the Durango High School student modeled in the fashion show. Fort Lewis College student Vivian Krishnan’s electric yellow “Circle Dress” was a showstopper. Sheri Rochford Figgs, Willa Beatty and Hasterok sponsored the three students’ entries.

The DAC’s Artistic Director Theresa Carson hosted the fashion show and live auction (Best line? “Hey, look, it covers your butt!”). Calvin and Pat Story handled the auctioneering. The event was sold out, with 165 tickets snapped up, and everyone enjoyed watching friends and neighbors strut their stuff on the catwalk.

Mother and daughter duo Judy Hayes and Moni Grushkin really worked their tops by Maureeen Keilty and Carlson, respectively, but Cindy Cortese was no slouch demonstrating the exotic reversible jacket and boa created by Holly Laird.

Other designers who had items juried into the live auction were Portera, Alisa Hjermstad, Elizabeth Somers and Julie Hannigan, chairwoman Hogan (two pieces), Deborah Gorton, Kay Harper Roberts, JM Jones, Salomon, Kelly Horrigan and Gould. Barbara Belanger, who created the People’s Choice winner last year, had not one, not two, but three entries in the live auction, the third in collaboration with her daughter, Allee. That final piece, a gorgeous tangerine dress with a variety of textures, bead and yarn embellishments, was modeled by Shanan Campbell Wells and brought in a pretty penny.

Lisa Self’s “Midnight Tidepool, Part 1,” a hand-dyed and screen printed tunic with a dramatic fringy scarf, which she modeled with panache, brought down the house and won her the live auction People’s Choice Award prize of $500.

The other models were Charlene Geiss, Dolores Overton, Emily Cameron, Guyneth Zimmerman, Lauren Catlin, Kara Komick, Mary Chandler, Petra Hinke, Shaheen Hood, Alyse Neubert, Ellen Tomsic, Gayle Owen, Marcelina Chavira and Rubi Starr.

Glamming them up with hair and makeup were Chandler and Jane Jaber of Hello, Gorgeous and Regina Roark, hair, and Shiloh Ketron, makeup, from Shampoo.

At this point, I think you all are getting my point about the hundreds of hours involved in this event. Some of the pieces alone took dozens upon dozens of hours to complete.

Deborah Demme and Michael Thunder also stepped up, gave space, storage and products to support TOP.

Events such as this don’t happen without major support, and First National Bank of Durango stepped up to be the title sponsor.

“Where does the money go,” you ask?

In the last year, TOP proceeds were used to sponsor the “Textiles Today” and “HOT! 50th Anniversary of Studio Glass” exhibits, two standouts at the DAC. If you haven’t enjoyed a First Thursdays Art Walk downtown yet, the next chance is on Oct. 4, when the DAC and other art galleries introduce new exhibits and artists. TOP funds also support that program.

“We believe that art is an important and essential element of any thriving community,” Hogan said.

This is one group of volunteers who put their time, talents and money into a cause they believe in, and their investment benefits anyone who loves the arts in this town.

Thanks to all of you, for a fun party and for providing these wonderful shows and events for us all to enjoy. Those exhibits were utterly marvelous and of a quality one can hardly imagine happening in a town this size.

durango colorado

The hillsides are glowing for the birthdays of Jim Burpee, Judith Reynolds, Paul Plvan, Janine Bulen, Christina Chambers, Gary Goold, Stephanie Ogier, Jennie Agee, Luke Jernigan, Laura Pritchard, Kenny Schramko, Bob Galbraith, Jan Kyser and Joan Southcotte.

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Kudos to the jewelry artists who put on the eighth annual Style ‘N’ Stones on Sept. 14. Mary Orsini, Pat Lorenzen, Nancy Macho, Carolyn Plested, Susie Fisher, Ann Arens and last, but far from least, the late Gail Short, put on an amazing display of jewelry, a yummy repast by Hot Tomatoes and even had Stan Crapo himself pouring the wine he donated.

Between the door receipts and the percentage of jewelry sales donated, the Durango Arts Center and the Discovery Museum will receive some nice donations. They already had donated more than $35,000, so this will probably bring their philanthropic largesse to more than $40,000 during the last eight years. Bravo!

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Here’s how to reach me:; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and whom to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed.