Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man. --George Bernard Shaw
Our business activities must make social sense, our social activities must make business sense. --George Weissman, retired
chairman of Philip Morris.
I believe the arts in Orange County are going to grow in direct proportion to the plumbing. --Tom Tierney,
Business Committee for the Arts
Great quotes amid heady sculpture from the "Third Dimension" exhibition at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, followed by great entrecotes amid the more worldly appointments of the Ritz restaurant, made for a stimulating fourth annual Orange County Business Committee for the Arts awards dinner, attended by 250 Sunday night.
OCBCA founder David Tappan Jr., board chairman and chief executive officer of Fluor Corp., introduced keynote speaker Eli Broad, chairman and chief executive officer of developers Kaufman and Broad Inc., and the philosophy was flying.
"Reality advances more rapidly than do our perceptions," Broad began. "As late as the 1920s, people looked at this area and asked, 'Can anything grow in this desert?' For the next six decades, all they could talk about was our growth. Then the skeptics were asking, 'Can anything cultural grow in this suburban desert?'
"Their perceptions hadn't caught up with reality. Woody Allen was sadly misinformed when he said the only cultural advantage here is that we can turn right on a red light. The arts community is not just emerging in Orange County--it's here!"
Broad pointed out that more than 34% of the original $85-million budget for the development of the Orange County Performing Arts Center is coming from the business community, a commitment more than twice the national average for business contributions to the arts and humanities.
Shaw's comment--"Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man"--can easily be applied to the development of a major arts facility, he said.
"That was certainly the case in the creation of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles," Broad recalled. "In 1979, we had no building, no endowment and no collection. Any reasonable person would have said, 'Impossible, this will never happen.' But members of the formative committee, myself included, were completely unreasonable, and today we have a major museum building almost completed, a collection of international repute and a $25-million endowment.
"Orange County, fortunately, has a strong contingent of unreasonable people who support the arts even in the face of great odds. In fact, what the BCA does is to put together unreasonable requests with unreasonable people. The result is the fulfillment of project after project . . . a chance to be unreasonable and still be a respected member of the community."
Accepting first-time awards were Stewart Woodard, president, Stewart Woodard and Assoc.; Tom Tierney, president, VitaTech International Inc.; Peter Ochs, president, Fieldstone Co.; Mike McCormick, managing partner, Rutan & Tucker, and David Threshie, publisher of the Orange County Register. Maurice Allard, director of the Master Chorale of Orange County, received the Arts Award.
Repeat award winners included Pacific Mutual, with Harry Bubb, president, accepting, and the Irvine Co., represented by William Hitchcock, vice president of construction and finance. Accepting "Distinguished Awards" were Henry Segerstrom, managing partner, C.J. Segerstrom & Sons; Nad Peterson, Fluor Corp. senior staff vice president, and Jim Gilleran, president of the Mission Viejo Co.
Not all philosophies espoused during the presentations were without a degree of controversy: Gilleran's elegant quote from George Weissman, for example--"Our business activities must make social sense, our social activities must make business sense"--made for lively dinner discussion.
Nad Peterson's comments were warmly received. He recalled a story he'd heard recently about a couple who'd been married 30 years.
"The wife was complaining that her husband never told her he loved her," recounted Peterson. "Finally he said, 'My dear, the day we were married, I told you I love you. If I ever change my mind, I'll let you know.'
"We at Fluor love art. If we ever change our mind, we'll let you know."
Judges for the awards were Patricia Caldwell, president of the Laguna Beach College of Art; developer Charles Hester; James McDermott, senior vice president of Bank of America; Betsy Sanders, vice president of Nordstrom, and Stephen Toth, chairman of Newport National Industries.
Ray Jacob of the Laguna Beach College of Art created a set of four hand-colored monotypes of the San Juan Capistrano Public Library to be presented to award winners.
Welcome to the slightly wacko world of Casa de Bienvenidos Youth Shelter supporters, who held a dinner/auction Sunday at the Cypress Community Center.