If you wanted to mingle in an artsy crowd, the Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art was the place to be. This was the biennial Art Salute Gala, at which the Maryland Citizens for the Arts Foundation honored artists and their supporters. Special awards would be given to artists such as painter Grace Hartigan and guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and art supporters like Eddie and Sylvia Brown. But, first there was the meet-and-greet at the dinner buffet.
"This is an invigorating event," said Coleen West, executive director of the Howard County Arts Council. "You see all the other people out there working and supporting the arts. It affirms what you do on a day-to-day basis."
And, there were lots of those "other people" to see: Baltimore Opera Company's Michael Harrison, Rebecca Hoffberger of the American Visionary Art Museum, artist Mary Ann Mears, MICA's Fred Lazarus, MPT's Artworks This Week host Rhea Feikin, longtime theater supporter Clarisse Mechanic, and Center Stage's board chair Lynn Deering. And that was only in the first scan of the room.
Proudly overlooking the happy hubbub was Sue Hess, former chair and executive director of Citizens for the Arts.
The organization is "flying now. It's so nice when your kids grow up, and they grow up great," she noted, before running to catch up with her successor Pamela Holt as they prepared for the awards presentation.
A DRINK WITH SCOTT DONAHOO
He makes a serious hullabaloo
Scott Donahoo, the 50-year-old CEO of Donahoo Automotive, is famous -- or infamous -- for his outrageous TV commercials. They have obviously paid off. His first enterprise, Foreign Motors, has grown in two decades to include Donahoo Ford, Foreign Motors Kia and Foreign Motors Suzuki. His business also extends into auto parts, collision repair and real estate. He has a 45-minute radio show Thursdays on 98 Rock, Let Scotty Be the Judge, in which he tries to solve listeners' problems. But this divorced father's proudest achievement is the raising of his three sons -- ages 20, 18 and 16.
When you were growing up in East Baltimore, did you ever imagine yourself here?
No. I went to Northern High School. I was lucky to get out alive. I dropped out of college after two months. ... My father told me I needed to learn a trade. ... I responded to an ad for Jerry's Chevrolet, no experience necessary. The next morning, I walked in there and said to the contact man, "Where's my desk? I'm your new salesman." And he said, "You're right. The desk is right over there." And it was love at first sight. Have you ever fallen out of love with the business?
Never. I have the coolest job in the world. I get to be a total nut. And I meet people from all walks of life: celebrities, politicians, laborers, athletes. I love 'em all. You're obviously enjoying life.
Yeah. I'm wealthy. I'm well known. Semi-popular, I think. I give a lot of money to charity, which makes me feel good. I get the best tables in restaurants. And I love what I do. When you love what you do, it ain't work. Let's talk about your infamous commercials.
In the one coming up this fall, I'm gonna be George Jefferson. What other white man can play a black man and make people laugh? Specifically, African-Americans. My whole image is I'm nuts. People don't know what to expect from me. Do you think that allows you to get away with more?
I think I've grown on people. Slowly. They know I'm a harmless, shameless self-promoter. So, hopefully, people realize I'm just a down-to-earth guy. I drink beer and drive a pickup truck. Most meetings I attend, I'm in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. ... Other than a couple of fancy waterfront homes, I don't have a fancy bone in my body. What about you is serious?
Business. When it comes to business, I'm deadly serious. So what's your image to people with whom you're in business?
Well, I don't have partners. But, I would think the people who work for me would say, "He's fair." Do you ever worry that because your kids haven't had to face the same challenges you did growing up, it will be harder for them to succeed?
I think that will be a very hard mountain to climb. Come to think of it, I do have one business where I do have partners, Donahoo & Sons. Together we own real estate. So, at the end of the day, they're gonna have a big head start. Are you a workaholic?
Definitely. I still work 12 to 14 hours a day. But, after all, 12 hours is only half a day. What do you do for fun?
I boat and fish. And drink Rolling Rock. Sometimes, more than one, but always in a fresh frosted glass. I write all my commercials. How else do you think I come up with this? It's all the Rolling Rock!
Benefits The Fuel Fund of Maryland
Two complimentary drinks, Latin dinner buffet, live music, dancing, dance performance
The Latin Palace, 509 S. Broadway
Tickets $45 in advance, $50 at door
Benefits Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Open bar, food stations from local restaurants / caterers, live music, dancing
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore