It could have been puffed up, drawn out and dull.
But Sunday night's sixth annual "Business in the Arts Awards" presentation was low key and brief, as polished as a Fortune 500 board meeting.
First, a lively champagne reception at 6:30 p.m., when 300 professionals--all on the arts fast track, all dressed for success--gathered on the butcher-block floors of the Newport Harbor Art Museum to hobnob with such corporate moguls as Henry T. Segerstrom, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, and David S. Tappan Jr., chairman and CEO of Fluor Corp. It was Tappan who, in 1981, founded the Costa Mesa-based Business Committee for the Arts, the event's sponsor.
Then, it was sit down theater-style, in the museum's art-filled gallery to hear blissfully brief and relaxed addresses by Segerstrom, board chairman for the Orange County Business Committee for the Arts, and guest speaker Camilla Chandler Frost, chairman of the executive committee for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Frost--her name belies her candid warmth--told guests that "economic growth alone does not sustain the human spirit. . . . Art and business are mutually beneficial."
(During the reception, Tappan--attending with bubbly wife, Jeanne--confided that he felt the same way: "Part of a good living environment has to do with cultural institutions--happy employees have a quality of life that comes from things like the Performing Arts Center and the Newport Harbor Art Museum.")
An awards ceremony followed, with Segerstrom presenting cast marble sculptures by artist Ed Chatlin to first-time award winners: Paul Bent, president of GoodSmith & Co.; Blair Armstrong accepting on behalf of O'Donnell, Brigham & Partners; Thomas Hammond, president of the Hammond Co.; Peter and Rick Muth of Orco Block Co.; David C. Holman of First Interstate Bank, and David Carroll of Pacific Bell.
Frost, who attended with her husband, F. Daniel Frost, presented sculptures to return award winners Peter Ochs, president of Fieldstone Co., and David Threshie, publisher of the Orange County Register. Frost also presented awards for distinguished achievement (businesses that have won three awards) to C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, the Irvine Co., the Mission Viejo Co. and Pacific Mutual insurance company.
Stop-Gap, a program aimed at solving and preventing social ills via drama therapy, received the committee's annual Arts Award, a $1,000 cash grant underwritten by Marsh & McLennan Inc. Accepting the grant was Don Laffoon, artistic director for Stop-Gap.
After the ceremonies, guests motored to the Ritz restaurant in Newport Beach where owner Hans Prager was host of a formal dinner, underwritten by Barratt American Inc. and First American Title Insurance Co., amidst flickering tapers, fresh flowers and violin serenades. On the mouthwatering menu: grilled baby quail salad; Norwegian salmon en croute , and a pie to sell your company stock for--sweet potato pecan tart presented in a pool of caramel sauce and a swirl of cinnamon cream.
Award judges were M. Rogue Hemley of Latham and Watkins; Bernice Hird of Beatrice/Hunt-Wesson; Sally Anne Miller, Irvine councilwoman; James L. Vandeberg of Carter Hawley Hale, and Paul Vandeventer of California Community Foundation.
Betty Moss is executive director of the local Business Committee for the Arts. Deloitte Haskins & Sells underwrote the limited-edition marble sculptures.