Perpich Center for Arts Education: An oasis of hope
- Blog Post by: Barry ZeVan
- May 15, 2012 - 7:10 PM
PREFACE: I, along with many other Minnesotans, had the privilege to know the late former Governor Rudy Perpich well. He was a friend who sometimes asked my opinions about various topics. He was also an enthusiastic champion for almost everyone he encountered, somewhat parallelling Minnesota's great "happy warrior", the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey, whose friendship I was also honored to have, from 1966 until his passing. The two most memorable times for me regarding Governor Perpich were when I returned to Twin Cities television after a ten-year tenure in D.C., Detroit and nationally on the Satellite News Channels, the latter based in Stamford, Connecticut, and where I met and worked with a weather chap named Paul Douglas. Thanks to Paul's kind suggestions, I'm doiing Star Tribune webcasts and these blogs.
The first most significant memory for me involving Governor Perpich occurred shortly after I returned to the Twin Cities when I was attending an Orchestra Hall concert featuring Mitch Miller. Mitch had been a mentor and boss to one of my former high school mates in New York, Her name was (and is) Leslie Uggams. While approaching the backstage green room for a meet-and-greet with Mitch, down a long hall behind the stage, I heard someone gently yelling my name a couple times. The person "yelling" was Governor Perpich. After I stopped and he caught up with me, he told me he was happy to see me back in Minnesota. In subsequent years, he proclaimed one day in May as Barry ZeVan Day in the state.
The second significant memory was when Rudy and I were talking about various spots in the world that might be interesting in which to reside. I told him Paris (at the time) topped my list. He then told me the Ghermezian brothers were planning to build a Mall of Europe near Versailles. He invited me to meet them (with him) literally a half-hour before their Mall of America opened. We met in a private room on the fourth floor of the MOA, he introduced me to them and said he felt I'd make a credible overseer to their suburban Paris Mall, his having prepped them about it prior to the meeting. After very brief conversation with me and the brothers, and their associate, Sean Samsian, Raphael Ghermezian said to the other two brothers, nodding to me, "Let's have him run it." That's verbatim. Subsequently, Sean took my contact information and said he'd call me in three weeks to beign the process of getting me aboard to "run" their French-based Mall. Three weeks later he called and told me the French Government had changed their minds, thus the Ghermezians would be building the Mall of Europe in Vienna. He asked me if the position would still be of interest to me. I politely declined, stating even though I liked Vienna, it wasn't Paris, and I didn't speak German. French is my second language. He said he was sorry to learn of my non-interest, we wished each other well, and that was that. The Mall of Europe was never built.
THE PERPICH CENTER FOR ARTS EDUCATION: Parallelling Rudy and his wife Lola's zest for life and all things positive, the school and subjects he championed are testaments to quality in both instructors and results. I had the honor to visit the school today. Executive Director Sue Mackert kindly introduced me to much of the faculty as well as some of the students, one of whom will accept a national art awarsd in New york City next month. It would take volumes to sing the praises of this remarkable and unique learning center for high school Juniors and Seniors. The walls throughout are festooned with the works of the students. Many of the school's alumnae in Visual Arts, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Dance, Theater and Music are employed at some of the world's most well-known and respected arts and media-oriented organizations, as well as being accepted into the most prestigious colleges and universities.
As I stated, it would take volumes to describe all there is to see and with which to be amazed and inspired at The Perpich Center. Their truly first-class library has perhaps every conceivable resource for learning more about all the Arts taught at the school, as well as some truly historic archives from donors thereof.
Bottom line: Governor Perpich would be delighted and proud to know what his initial thoughts have wrought and how the Center named after him has evolved so eloquently into an exemplary facility. It's populated by seasoned professionals who teach those who will become much of the hope for the maintenance of quality creativity in a world so definitely in need of same. Congratulations to the administrators, instructors and students, as well as those outside of academia who are aware of the importance of all the arts and the blessing to have such a quality operation as part of the fabric of these cities and the state.
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