Last night, I joined friends and colleagues at the Missoula Art Museum to present the MAM Award to Martin Burke. During my years on the Board of Directors at the museum, I worked alongside Martin while fundraising and building a new addition to the museum. We started calling him The Reverend for his gift of repeatedly rallying our spirits. When planning events we looked for extra opportunities to have him speak and to woo us.
Several thoughtful speeches and humorous anecdotes were delivered in the cocktail hour celebration. Fellow artist, Cathryn Mallory and I sat side-by-side, giggling to each other while lifting our glasses to wipe away tears. It was that kind of love fest. Ten of us delivered a 'Martin Burke Top Ten'. Always impressed with Martin's dynamic speeches about art and Missoula's arts community, I wrote this as my top ten item: Martin Burke is a Fountain of Youth to the Arts. An eternal well of hope. Passionately and eloquently he reminds us all of the depth, meaning and vitality inherent to the arts.
In Martin's acceptance speech he illustrated my point beautifully once again. If you haven't heard him, you must. Martin is so dynamic I'm tempted to sneak into one of his classes in tax law, of all the crazy things. I couldn't (and wouldn't) try to recount all of his message last night, but one part in particular struck home with me. Talking about community and culture, he praised the resourceful and powerful ability to 'make something out of nothing.' Speaking to everyone at once, he demonstrated a respect and admiration for art and artists. He got to the heart of it in a way that lets everyone connect. And in a way that stirs our pride. He just gets it. And he doesn't hesitate to get on his soap box to tell everyone about it.
Thanks a million Martin for being such an amazing and generous force in this town. You are our hero.