Ebby Pinson: Looking Back on 45 Years of the Vail Symposium

Ebby Pinson: Looking Back on 45 Years of the Vail Symposium

Charles Garfield

EBBY PINSON – Honorary Board

If I remember correctly, I was the Executive Director of the VS from 1999- 2006.  When I started, we redesigned all of the programs to a format that is similar to what you are doing today.

We introduced Hot Topics, the Unlimited Adventure Series with the Library, Backyard Adventures, a film series (festival) and an artist series.  Hot Topics were always the most popular. We partnered with the World Affairs Council in Denver and had some great politicians, journalists, and foreign affairs experts like Jim Brook from the New York Times, Linda Fasulo, a UN reporter who also works for NPR.  Gary Hart spoke for us as well.

The Unlimited Adventure Series was my favorite.  Diane Van Deren was my favorite speaker- you can google her. Chris Anthony of Warren Miller films was also featured. Patty Letofsky, a local at the time, walked around the word for Breast Cancer- starting and ending in Vail.  We had an Artist Series and did lots of fun and creative things. We had artist dinners where an art professor came for a lecture or to create something. We had one about Georgia O’Keefe and then afterwards we had a dinner with recipes from her kitchen.  Another was on Monet, then Picasso etc.  It was lots of fun creating these evenings.  We had day workshops where we made kites with local artists Ty and Helen Gillespie and afterwards flew the kites at Nottingham Lake. We had artist tours to Aspen in the summer to visit private homes and collections. We visited artist studios- James Surls in Carbondale- it was a fabulous day. We went to Anderson Ranch and spent a day print making with Hiroki Morinoue, an Hawaiian print maker.  We planned a trip to Loveland to the sculpture park, watched a bronze pour at the foundry there, and visited the print making studio of Bud Shark in Lyons, Colorado.  In the summer, we did more outside- Vince Matthews, who at the time was a geologist with the state, did several trips in the local area explains for instance the geology in Glenwood Canyon.

Beth Slifer

The film series was very popular- in January at the Vilar Center- Walter Chaw, a movie critic from Denver (Film Freak Central) selected the films and conversed after the film showings.  The films were very different and he had quite a following!

We had a fundraiser for 2 years at the end of the Summer- Forecast for the Future. Karen Weber, a board member, suggested the idea and hosted it at her home. It was late afternoon to after dinner. Four specialists in different areas would  predict what their area of expertise would look like in 5 years.

Hopefully, this gives you something to work with.  We all worked very hard to bring the Symposium back to life at that particular time and I think we more than accomplished that


ps – Finally, one of top programs that we partnered with the libraries and bookstore with was Festival of Words.  It was a wonderful weekend in the spring that brought top authors into the valley- Jodi Picoult, Gregory McGuire, Kent Haruf, Terry Tempest Williams and the list goes on. We had a Valley Read of one of the books. Susan Zimmermann was the MC for the event and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer was poetess extraordinaire.  It was a labor of love for all of us.

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