This afternoon, as snow started falling throughout Flagstaff, Jay and I were volunteering inside, at the Coconino Center for the Arts. Once a year they host a rug auction of authentic Navajo handcrafted rugs. There were 250 rugs, varying from small rugs the size of a large book to large area rugs that required three men to hold them up for show. Our job was to be Vanna White, parading the beautiful rugs in front of the audience as the auctioneer rattled off details and pressure to buy. It was an interesting experience. I definitely gained a new appreciation for these well crafted weavings.
Two weekends ago we volunteered at the annual arts award gala in Flagstaff for the second year in a road. At last year’s Viola Awards, we were just passing through Flagstaff and managed to get connected to this awesome event through our mutual friend Elizabeth Vogler. A fun surprise this year was that it was almost the same group of volunteers from last year. We all knew the drill and the silent auction ran smoothly. The gala was bigger and better than last year with a packed house and great performances between the awards categories. Of course one of the highlights for me was people watching, seeing the arts community come out in their finest “small town formal”.
For more photos from the event, check out the photographer’s website.
Us and our fellow volunteers at the 2012 Viola Awards
Us with our fellow volunteers - Photo by Tulasi Devi
Forget the Oscars, the Viola Awards in Flagstaff, Arizona is where all of the fascinating fashion is and where artists come together in celebration and comraderie. We were in for a treat Saturday night as over 400 locals came out to show their support for the arts and to look classy. Luckily, we each keep a nice outfit in the car for just such occasions. Though this being Flagstaff, attire ranged from jeans and a t-shirt to sequined gowns (to everything in between including kilts and Fat Tuesday sequined ties).
Jay and I found out about the event through a fellow AmeriCorps Alum, Elizabeth Vogler, who was Stage Manager for the evening. We joined a small team of volunteers who greeted guests and monitored the silent auction. Sharon got bumped up to the role of “Table Captain”, which involved selling raffle tickets to guests and encouraging guests to become members of the Flagstaff Cultural Partners or make pledges. This was what Arlington County would have referred to as a “highly responsible” position, and I was honored to be entrusted with it. It also gave me an excuse to introduce myself to a local legend that I had admired for a long time, Tony Norris.
Sharon and Jay at the Viola Awards
Working the event gave us a unique opportunity to reconnect with old friends and coworkers. Jay graduated from Northern Arizona University and we both lived in Flagstaff for long enough to feel like it is a second home. Most of the Viola winners were artists we recognized, like John Running, Canyon Movement Company, and the Museum of Northern Arizona‘s Hopi Festival. It was a bit strange to run into people we knew as acquaintances and try to explain that we no longer live there, but were back for a visit and were volunteering for the evening. Flagstaff is a transient town, so it’s hard to keep track of who’s a resident and who is just passing through.
Our fellow volunteers at the Silent Auction table
The event appeared to be a great success. The silent auction was popular, with the Joe Sorren painting (in the picture above) going for the highest bid at $950. In addition to the auction, they sold raffle tickets, commemorative wine glasses, and also took donations through pledge cards at the tables. The mood was enthusiastic. It was a really uplifting night at an otherwise stressful time for artists in Arizona. We were honored to be included in the community again.
These 11 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Dan Bloom. Thank you so much for the support!