Your Ah Haa Moment: New Year’s Eve Gala

Your Ah Haa Moment: New Year’s Eve Gala

Photograph by Ben Knight

Photograph by Ben Knight

Painter Brucie Holler and photographer/filmmaker Ben Knight are featured. Menu by Eliza Gavin of “221.”

The holidays are a whirl of parties, cultural events, dances, and getting together with friends and family. Perhaps the merriest gathering of them all is the Ah Haa School for the Arts’ Annual New Year’s Eve Gala.

The sit-down dinner takes place in the school’s historic Depot building on Tuesday, December 31, 6:30-10 p.m. The event features the works of photographer and filmmaker, Ben Knight and painter, Brucie Holler. The evening includes not only an elegant meal prepared by Chef Eliza Gavin of 221 South Oak, but theatrical vignettes performed by members of the Telluride Theatre as well – and a sneak preview of Knight’s newest film, “DamNation.”

Ah Haa patrons who attend this glittering event have an opportunity to meet and converse with both of the artists, whose new works will be on display in the airy Daniel Tucker Gallery. (They are also available for purchase.)

Holler, a native of South Carolina who has since returned to her home state, lived in Telluride for seven years and was a fixture on the arts scene here. In fact, she worked as the Assistant Director and Exhibitions Curator for Ah Haa. Holler maintained a connection to Telluride through friends and her abiding love for  Ah Haa.

“I would not be the painter that I am if it were not for the Ah Haa School,” Holler said. “I would not be coming back to Telluride to be a featured artist at this event. The Ah Haa School changed my trajectory and opened me up to a world of creativity that I didn’t even know was there.”

Painting part of "Murmurations" series by Brucie Holler

Painting part of “Murmurations” series by Brucie Holler

Holler, like many who discover the school’s bounty, was transformed by the experience.

“I was able to take classes in anything I wanted, expanding myself from just a painter to a well-rounded artist. These classes and meeting the artists that came to Ah Haa opened my eyes, my heart, and my brain to the idea that powerful art does not have to shock you or depress you or challenge your belief system. It can do all of those things, but it can also lift you up. It can motivate and inspire. It can calm and center.” 

The evening’s other featured artist, Ben Knight, virtually grew up in Telluride, both as an artist and as a young man. The barely-out-of-his teens North Carolina native rolled into town in the late 1990s with his camera, a skateboard, and a passion for the outdoors. According to his artist’s statement on his website: “I’ve been obsessed with photography and cameras since I was an awkward teenager.”

Knight’s obsession is our visual reward. His work at the Telluride Daily Planet brought him accolades while he honed his craft. After a decade in print media, his artistry has continued to grow. He had discovered the art of film.

“Somehow the transition from stills to video was surprisingly natural to me,” Knight said. “The addition of sound to pictures just melted my face. I swear it was like unlocking the secret to shaping the emotion I wanted to share with people.”

With partner Travis Rummel, Knight founded Felt Soul Media, and the pair filmed and produced the acclaimed documentaries, “Red Gold” and “Eastern Rises.” Felt Soul’s latest endeavor, “DamNation,” tells the story of dam removal from both sides of this contentious issue.

Before and after dinner, patrons have the opportunity to bid on an array of fine wines and champagne. The most coveted silent auction prize will be a Winter Olympic-themed five-course meal. Each course represents the five rings of the Olympic Games’ logo, and the winning bidder can select a different culinary specialty from around the world for each course. Ah Haa’s Marketing and Special Events Director, Kathleen Cole, is excited about this remarkable auction item.

“It’s a fun way of celebrating the Olympics,” she said. “Each of the courses will be paired with five different wines, too.”

New this year will be round tables, which seat eight diners. Patrons can purchase the entire table or individual places.

Tickets for the Ah Haa School’s New Year’s Eve Gala include dinner, a full bar, and a selection of wine.

For more information and tickets, please call Kathleen Cole at 970-728-3886 or e-mail her at:


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