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The Valley Line: Seeing light, texture and color at Descanso

September 21, 2011|By Jane Napier Neely
  • Ben and Lucia Logan chat with David Linden at the cocktail reception previewing the Descanso Gardens' Sturt Haaga Gallery opening last Friday evening. (Photo by Jane Napier Neely)
Ben and Lucia Logan chat with David Linden at the cocktail…

It was with great excitement that the long-awaited Sturt Haaga Gallery officially opened in the restored Boddy House garage and its newly built extension at Descanso Gardens.

Although it officially opened to the public on Saturday afternoon, the media got a sneak peek at the beautiful gallery, a $2.1 million gift from La Cañada residents Paul and Heather Haaga, at a press gathering last Thursday.

On Friday evening, just as dusk was painting the gardens in tones of soft mauve, nearly 150 guests, including many Descanso supporters and donors, celebrated the opening of the gallery at a cocktail party.

The soirée was a festive occasion with beverages and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Patina Catering. Guests gathered in the courtyard of the beautiful building with its walls of glass revealing the gallery’s inaugural art exhibit of stunning black-and-white horticultural photographs by East Coast artist Dr. Andrea Baldeck.

After party guests viewed Baldeck’s fine-art photographs in the spacious gallery rooms, they gathered at the edge of the garden to hear remarks made by David Brown, executive director of Descanso, who said, “Through the incredible generosity of the Haagas and others, we are thrilled to offer this new education resource. All along, the vision has been to add to the Descanso experience the opportunity to see, understand and treasure nature in new ways — through the eye of the artist, through the investigative curiosity of the scientist, and within the cultural context provided by the historian.”

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Brown also mentioned that further funding for this new Descanso project came from The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and Georgianna and Paul Erskine of Pasadena. Georgianna Erskine is a Descanso trustee. The couple’s gift was used for the Gardens in the Gallery courtyard.

Brown then introduced Heather Haaga, whose husband Paul was standing nearby. She shared that she and Paul were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. After exploring what they could give each other as an anniversary present, they decided that they wanted to give Descanso Gardens, and the thousands of people who come to visit it each year, an art gallery.

Heather, who is chair of the Descanso Gardens Guild board of trustees, is an accomplished artist herself, painting with oil on canvas.

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