After 28 years, former Omaha-based Salt and Pepper Art Studios partners, Rosalind “Bee” Harris and Beth Cathcart recently spent four days of catching up on the past and making new memories for the future.
Bee and I first worked together as cartographers in the mid 70’s at Omaha National Bank (ONB). Bee’s education and background was in graphic arts, mine in art education. I wanted to do art rather than teach it. Bee mentored and taught me the basics of the graphic design industry.
While working at ONB and because of our close relationship, we were commonly referred to as Salt and Pepper from other co-workers. It wasn’t long before we left ONB to start our own freelance business. It seemed only fitting to adopt our nicknames as the studio name which turned out to be a great ice breaker with the common question being asked – so which one is Salt and who’s Pepper?
At that time in corporate America, women were just beginning to be recognized with positions of authority. And entrepreneurial ventures were something of a novelty. Because of our gender and race we were afforded developmental and business opportunities. Coincidentally it just worked out to our benefit, but was not really on our minds as we set out to explore the world of business.
As soon as I landed at DIA, it was like no time had passed. Within a couple hours of my arrival, Bee and I joined the talented Denver Urban Spectrum creative team at the famous Cherry Creek Grill. The focus of discussion was the upcoming coverage for the Democrat National Convention and like my delicious lunch, I savored the lively conversation.
Denver seemed to roll out the red carpet for this visit – it was the best possible weekend with events galore which began with the musical 3 Mo Divas, followed with the Black Economic Summit luncheon with keynote speaker astronaut Mae Jamison, and then a photo op with Mayor John Hickenlooper at the Concert For Kids benefit with John Legend and Jewel. An afternoon allowed me to view the Martin Luther King Memorial at City Park. We even found time to visit local drinking establishments including Marion’s Lounge, The Peaks at the Hyatt Regency and Cleatz Sports Bar. I was fortunate to see two local bands – Soul School at the Supreme Court and Terry Black Soul at Lannie’s Clock Tower Cabaret. And did I mention we had a bar-b-cue with family and friends? And did I say four days?
Aside from spending time with Bee, meeting her friends and extraordinary people who are making a difference in Denver and spending time with her sons and family. I felt most honored to meet and visit with sculptor Ed Dwight at his studio before attending Shadow Theatre Company’s Hands of History gala, in honor of him later that evening.
During our visit, I was immediately overwhelmed by Ed Dwight’s prolific dedication to his art and the nature and substance of his work. As we wandered through is studio and gallery, Ed offered insight into various works while he skillfully added molten wax with a small steel sculptor’s spatula to miniature hands.
Dwight pointed to a sketch depicting a grouping of figures in motion suspended by chains from above. “I’m working on the prototype for a life sized entry installation for the national traveling exhibit ‘I Am A Man’ for presentation next week,” he said. It will open at the Field Museum in Chicago in November and was commissioned by Tavis Smiley.
He remained focused on the work, seemingly untouched by the prospects of an evening where the State of Colorado, Denver citizens and the Shadow Theatre Company would celebrate his life’s achievement as a true living legend.
Later at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center Jeffrey Nickelson, founder and executive artistic director of the Shadow Theatre Company, and some of his board members, would orchestrate the evening’s agenda. Tributes of Ed’s story were woven through the spoken word, music, theatrics and dance revealing layers of astounding accomplishments. And as the proclamation from the Governor of the State Colorado sited June 7, 2008 as Ed Dwight Day, I only then began to fully appreciate the gift of our quiet and very personal visit with a true legend on his special day.
While celebrating a birthday with one of my new Denver friends the night before my departure, I was asked after all you have done, what will you take back with you?
And my response…“It feels like I have a new community… Thank you Denver and to the warm, talented and loving people who are making a difference.”.