Cupid is pretty sneaky. One day, you're driving to a potential host site for a Museum on Main Street exhibition, just minding your own business, eyes on the road, brain cells in overdrive as you take advantage of a few quiet hours in the car to sort out your mental laundry. The next day, Cupid, sly and underhanded, is coordinating a meet up between you and your future husband.
In 2006, Ann-Mary was just doing her job--making the trek from the Arizona Humanities Council's headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, up to the small but noteworthy town of Winslow. She was working with the Smithsonian to find a fitting destination for the Museum on Main Street show "Between Fences," which to date has visited 23 states across the U.S. and is still on the road.
The 183-mile drive to Winslow is none too shabby, weaving through the cactus-studded deserts and the jagged mountains of Tonto National Forest, a short distance from Flagstaff and Sedona. But, Winslow seems to have a charm that's distinct from its neighbors. A town of about 10,000 residents, it's perched along Route 66 and is a serious destination for tourists, if not for its architectural gems, shops, and old-West history, then for its "Standing on the Corner Park," a spot made famous by the Eagles' 1972 hit "Take It Easy." (Feel free to sing now: "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see . . ..")
This wasn't Ann-Mary's first trip to Winslow. She'd been there before to stay at the historic La Posada Hotel, a recently renovated 1930s' landmark, designed by architect Mary Colter. That was back in 1999. Interesting place, Ann-Mary recalled. And, that seemed to be the end of it. However, Cupid had other plans for the former Arizona Humanities Council grants coordinator.
Back to 2006: Ann-Mary met with the local museum director and others at the La Posada Hotel. In the group was one Dan Lutzick, a fine arts graduate from the University of California Irvine who, with a handshake and a vision, became a partner in the La Posada Hotel restoration project as well as an advocate for all things history and art in Winslow. Dan's intense love affair with the La Posada Hotel ultimately lead the handy-man artist to repurpose another space, a 1914 Babbitt Brothers department store, into his own art studio/gallery.
Now for another kind of passion. When Ann-Mary met Dan that day, first at the Hotel then again at his Snowdrift Art Space, where the "Between Fences" exhibition would be on display, she remembers that love was not on her mind. In fact, she didn't even give Dan a second thought; on the other hand, his dogs were real lookers. Ann-Mary took a few pictures of the lovable canines and emailed them to her new friend. Dan's response: "The next time you're in Winslow, I'll show you around the area." Smooth Dan, very smooth. Within a few months, these two dog people started dating. (As everyone knows, the way to a person's heart is through their pet, duh.)
That was the fall of 2006. Fast forward to Christmas 2007. What do artists give their loved ones during the holidays? Original artwork. In Dan's case, he created an impressive sacred heart sculpture for his sweetie. It was beautiful on Christmas Eve, when she opened the gift in front of friends, but it was exquisite the following day when Dan revealed that the sculpture contained a secret compartment which housed yet another gift. And, there it was, inside a tiny box, wedged into a hidden slot--the ring, That's good stuff, Dan.
Ann-Mary and Dan were married in the summer of 2008, just a few days after "Between Fences" opened at the Snowdrift Art Space. "He's an artist who loves history," Ann-Mary reflects, and "I'm a historian who loves art. We just work."
Yes, we do take a little credit for tipping Cupid off to the facts in this museum love story. "I'll always have a soft spot for BETWEEN FENCES," muses Ann-Mary, who is now the director of the Old Trails Museum in Winslow.
What's the old saying, "You get out what you put in"? The passion and energy that went into making "Between Fences" was evidently transferred via some magical museum channels to Winslow, Arizona, where if you stand on the corner, you might just see Ann-Mary and Dan creating art, renovating old buildings, playing with their dog, and working to bring another Smithsonian exhibition to town.