By Betty Francis
Great works of art always have a colorful history and the one now on permanent display at Eisenhower Medical Center is no exception.
The art itself is one of the most unique pieces in the world. It is a small, white weathered rowboat, about 20 feet long, anchored in the reflective pond near the main entrance to Eisenhower Medical Center. Inside the rowboat is a “boatload of art” designed by Dale Chihuly, internationally famous glass sculptor and artist, and a former Palm Springs resident.
There are huge displays of Chihuly’s glass art in Las Vegas casinos and museums around the world. Local displays can be seen at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
But the history of this one is very different and guests attending this month’s dedication were delighted to hear the stories directly from those who lived them: Chihuly, his wife Leslie, and philanthropist Madeline Redstone who recently gifted the “End of the Day Boat” to Eisenhower.
STORY #1, AS TOLD BY THE CHIHULY’S:
Many years ago, when Dale and his manager- spokesperson-wife Leslie were touring Finland he, in one of his (frequent) playful moods, began joyfully tossing some damaged pieces of glass artwork into a river to dispose of them. But then he was even more amused when none of them sank! About that time, they noticed an abandoned weathered boat beside the river and Dale hired some local boys to borrow the boat and use it to retrieve his art — so he could have the fun of tossing it in all over again.
“Then”, said Chihuly, “When they came paddling back with that boat load of colorful glass, it was so beautiful” I knew I had to have that boat and I had to do something with that image.”
About a year later, Chihuly showed the boat, outfitted with new glass sculptures, to two of his major collectors, the late Eddie Redstone and his wife Madeline, who thought it would be perfect on a small pond at their Rancho Mirage estate.
STORY #2, AS TOLD BY DONOR MADELINE REDSTONE:
When we got a call the boat was being delivered, Eddie didn’t show much interest. But then, a three-man installation crew began unloading it, I started yelling, I love it, I love it! I love it! That’s when Eddie said, “Stop yelling that – I’m still negotiating the price!”
Madeline then added, “This art brought so much joy to our lives for so many years, I wanted to give it wider exposure, and the pond at Eisenhower is the perfect place for it to bring joy to thousands.”
Eisenhower President and CEO G. Aubrey Serfling, and Foundation President Michael Landes, spoke briefly at the dedication ceremony, affectionately recalling their brilliant friend and Eisenhower Board Member, Eddie Redstone, who passed in 2011.
They profusely thanked Madeline for making the donation in honor of her late husband but were reluctant to reveal the value of the gift, referring to it only as “priceless”
HOW YOU CAN SEE IT – FREE.
For a quick view of the boat and its art, you can park near Eisenhower’s Classic Charities building and walk across the street to an outdoor seating area. Directly below the seating area you can see “End of the Day Boat” anchored in the pond beside the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Pavilion.
But to fully see and enjoy the depth of its joyful beauty, do it this way: Go to the front desk in Eisenhower’s main lobby, and ask for permission to go to the cafeteria at the end of the hall. The cafeteria is called “Café 34” (Eisenhower was the 34th US President) and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can enjoy an inexpensive meal while gazing out at “End of the Day Boat.” Or, stroll out to the patio for an even closer look at the art and the permanent dedication monument beside the pond.
The dedication ceremony was semi-private, attended by 100 plus invited guests. Among them were Eisenhower board chairman Greg Renker, board members Harold Matzner and Jan Salta (who was honored with an off-key singing of “Happy Birthday” by her prestigious admirers). Additional board members present included Helene Galen with Jamie Kabler, Sam Spinello, Donna MacMillan, Bill and Cydney Osterman, Sally Berger, Bill Calkins, Alan and Helen Greene, Dr. Euthym Kontaxis, Dr. Joseph and Carol Scherger, and Dr. Adrian and Cass Graff-Radford.
Representing the hospital team who pulled it all together so seamlessly were Ken Wheat, Chief Financial Officer, Laura Fritz, Foundation Vice President, Martin Massiello, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Ali Tourkaman, Vice President, Support Services.
Major Eisenhower supporters and friends Mary Shinn, Angie Gerber, Marcia Bloemendaal, Stephen and Marjorie Kulp, Kathleen Valentine and Kelly Dougherty, Robert and Wendy Goodfriend, Barbara Holland, Francis Horwich, Lori Serfling, Rancho Mirage Mayor Pro Tem Ted Weil, Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon, Palm Springs Councilmember Ginny Foat, Dr. Harry Haroutunian, Bill and Rita Lynch, Jeff Weyant, Sadie Tourkaman, Stephanie Landes, Joyce and Joe Stein, Dr. Brian Herman, Dr. John DeSantis, Connie Norton, RN, Margaret Cole and Art Mattox.
As posted in The Desert Sun, Sunday, January 17, 2016