Scholl shows his ‘Sunday’s Best’ at Aspen Shortsfest
ASPEN – As the owner of one of the most notable collections of contemporary art in the country, Dennis Scholl is literally surrounded by art. And his life has been filled with arts-related activities. After careers in finance law and in venture capital, his current job is as a vice president of the Knight Foundation, where he directs the giving of grants to artists and arts organizations. Scholl is a trustee of the Linda Pace Foundation, which provides grants for residencies at ArtPace, a San Antonio visual arts center. A part-time Aspenite, he recently stepped down from the board of trustees at the Aspen Art Museum after a five-year term, though he still serves on the museum’s national council. The Aspen home he shares with his wife, Debra – “the big, crazy concrete house,” he said – has earned three awards from the American Institute of Architects.Scholl’s appreciation for art and artists is deep enough for him to recognize that creating a worthwhile work of art is not easy. So though he has long held a dream of expressing himself artistically, Scholl left the art-making to the artists, while he filled other roles in the process.”I never had the courage to do it,” he said. “As a collector, I know how hard it is to make a great piece of art. So I’m more attuned to those challenges. I don’t want to do something if I’m not going to do it well.”At 54, Scholl has finally joined the ranks of those who make the art. “Sunday’s Best,” a six-minute film he made with Marlon Johnson and Chad Tingle, shows at Aspen Shortsfest, in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. screening program at the Wheeler Opera House.Scholl’s involvement with Plum TV prepped him for taking on the challenge to create. As a cultural correspondent for the station, which has a channel in Aspen, Scholl has appeared in and helped produce a series of segments on film and visual arts. “That gave me a little more comfort that I could make something of decent quality,” said Scholl, who was nominated for a regional Emmy for one of his Plum TV pieces.What began to give him direction was the appearance of Aretha Franklin at President Obama’s inauguration. More specifically, the memorable headgear – “that bad-ass hat,” Scholl marveled – the soul singer wore for the occasion. A few weeks later, with thoughts of Franklin’s hat in his head, Scholl attended a gospel concert presented by the Knight Foundation in Miami. “A bus pulled up and off stepped these beautiful, dignified ladies dressed to the nines, with hats up to the sky, these geometric constructions,” he said. “That was the immediate moment of knowing I had to do something with this.”Scholl’s filmmaking team visited six churches in Miami, focusing on the glamorous hats, and the reasons women wear them while worshipping. “Sunday’s Best” touches a bit on hat history, but Scholl, who has a particular interest in art videos, wasn’t so much interested in a point-by-point narrative as he was in a visual feel.”It’s a mood piece that makes you feel the respect and dignity these women feel when they put on these hats,” said Scholl, whose film premiered at the Miami International Film Festival. “A mood piece, rather than a let-me-teach-you documentary.”Now that he’s over the first hurdle, Scholl is embracing his creative side. He, along with Johnson and Tingle, are at work on a longer piece, a half-hour film about soul music in Miami in the mid-’60s.
“Sunday’s Best” shows at Aspen Shortsfest in today’s 5:30 p.m. screening program at the Wheeler Opera House. Shortsfest runs through Sunday, April 11 in Aspen, with additional screenings Saturday in Carbondale. For a full Shortsfest program, go to firstname.lastname@example.org
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