Khanh Tran is the busy Dow Art Gallery director and master framer. He was invited to the deluxe TOSCA Awards banquet on September 5th. But there was a conflict: a family wedding. So he sent me, instead.
I am Holly Tappen, the new manager of the Dow Art Gallery. I just had started the new job and had no idea what to expect. The invitation was my ticket in, but to what? A cocktail party? A show? An event? I have seen the beautiful TOSCA glossy magazine and I have heard of the glamorous Gail Weber, the publisher. When Khanh handed me the ticket, I knew the inevitable: I had to wear high heels.
Into the wilds of Minnetonka I drove in the night, to find a place called The Marsh, a wellness center and art lover’s dream. They welcomed me in the lobby with my name tag and the program. I walked into the ballroom to find a sumptuous feast, full bar, white tablecloths and a keyboard next to the microphones at the front. I thanked my generous wisdom for putting on my best dress, because the people in the ballroom were decked out mightily in their grand couture. Well, everybody was horsed up and I regretted filling up on the Big Mac on my way over.
Swag bags lined the room, each with a name on the tag. I found my table, #8 at the back of the room and sat down. I met theatrical singers and art collectors and I saw:
- It was an awards show –
- And The Dow Art Gallery was going to win something and, oh my, I had to give a Speech. In front of People. And Cameras.
The food and conversation sparkled and I declined a glass of wine. (My shoes were challenging to my verticality after a long day at work.) The awards ceremony began. I was astounded by the talent in the room. An opera singer and keyboardist played songs from “South Pacific” and “Sound of Music.” Gail stood up and joked with the crowd, having a good time at the mic.
TOSCA: what does it mean? Theatre, Opera, Shakespeare, Culture and Art. I had lucked into an evening with the glitterati – hard working performance and visual artists – of the Twin Cities. I know I work for the biggest private art gallery in St Paul; we represent over 30 local artists in our 3,500 square feet of display space. We give exposure to emerging artists as well as old pros. I thought how Khanh should be here, and how he gives back to the art community every day…
…”Holly Tappen,” Gail announced. Yikes. I had to stand up. Walk around all those tables without falling down. Accept a lovely large glass sculpture trophy. Gail smiled and I looked out at everybody. At that moment I realized that I had not prepared a word to say. They were all smiling, happy for me. Nice people, what was there to fear? So I babbled into the microphone for several moments, talking about the space and the location. I mentioned Khan Tran, but I am sure I did not say enough about the wonderful attributes he has and his philosophy of giving back.
The statue was surprisingly heavy; hand-blown blue glass in a flame-like shape. I vowed upon my life not to drop it, as I headed through the maze back to my seat. My gallery had won the Oscar. I’m so proud. Come into the gallery and see it, along with all the great Minnesota art we display.