Living legends lauded

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How do you get some face time with the movers and shakers of Golden?

Go to the Golden History Center to see the new photo exhibit, Face to Face: Contemporary Portraits of Legendary People.

“I think it’s one of the roles of the museum to be a mirror of sorts for the community,” said Mark Dodge, the Golden History Museums Curator.

And the faces of Golden have changed in the last 75 years — the last time the Golden History Museums commissioned a series of portraits of the community’s most influential folks. Back then, the painted portraits included the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody, George West and William Loveland.

Now, Dodge and the museum opted for photographs, and to restrict the list of 15 portraits to just the living.

Those people, members of the Golden community who are now the literal faces of the city’s historic record, include: Former mayor and longtime School of Mines administrator and booster Marvin Kay, interfaith champion Bethany Thomas, longtime Chamber of Commerce President Gary Wink, School of Mines trailblazing professor and arts booster Dr. Cathy Skokan, businessman/developer/arts and civics philanthropist Heinie Foss, pioneer of aluminum can manufacturing William K. Coors, Heritage Square impresario Thomas J. Mullin, Christian Action Guild Executive Director JoAnn Thistlewood, CoorsTek CEO and U.S. Senate candidate Joseph Coors Jr., the man behind the Golden Oldy Cyclery Museum and several local sustainability efforts — Steve Stevens, “Love and Logic” childhood education specialist Dr. Charles Fay, local historian extraordinaire Richard Gardner, award-winning photographer (who photographed the other 14 portraits) Rick Souders, Spyderco founder Sal Glesser, and artist/historian/writer Irma Wyhs.

“I did not expect this,” Gardner said at the exhibit opening night celebration.

As the youngest of the portrait subjects, he said the other 14 honorees were “very good company.”

“It’s actually ironic, I helped research the original portraits,” Gardner said.

Each portrait features the local luminary in their element. Wink stands underneath the “Welcome” arch, while Thistlewood hoists a bag of groceries in front of the CAG food pantry. Skokan stands in the School of Mines Geology museum, holding a volcanic rock from Hawaii in one hand that she actually used in her early field research.

“This is fabulous,” Skokan said, standing right beside her portrait. “I’ve lived in Golden for so long, this really means so much.”

Dodge said narrowing down the list to only 15 individuals was tough, especially while trying to represent a true cross-section of the community.

“Probably half the group is of the older generation who has really already made their impact. And the rest, the new guard, are really making an impact now,” Dodge said.

Only 15 individuals to represent the last 75 years was a tough feat, Dodge acknowledged, saying Golden’s collection of colorful, active citizens might justify doing the portrait project more often.

“Every 25 years might not be too much.”

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