Vail Beaver Creek Salutes 2011

By David O. Williams November 1, 2011 Published in the Holiday 2011/2012 issue of Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine

In the Vail Valley, with its captivating scenic splendor, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the people whose ideas and efforts have helped shape the place, imbuing it with personality, culture, and class. In this first of what we foresee as an annual series of tributes, Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine presents the stories of just a few of these human fixtures of the Vail Valley landscape.

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Image: Preston Utley

KENT & VICKI LOGAN: Enhancing the valley’s cultural values

Ever since Kent and Vicki Logan were married high atop Vail Mountain by Vail’s skiing town judge Buck Allen in 1985, they’ve spent much of their time trying to elevate the town’s status as a world-class ski destination by enriching it with internationally acclaimed cultural offerings—particularly in the visual arts. With a succession of donations from their contemporary art collection, along with bequeathing their Potato Patch Road home and adjacent private gallery to the Denver Art Museum, their impact has been unmistakable.

“Our art contribution is our legacy; we have no kids,” Kent Logan explains. “We felt from the beginning of our collection that we were only going to be temporary custodians of the art, and our intention was always to return the bulk of it to the public domain.”

The Logans plunged into the donor pool in 1997—about the same time Kent Logan sold his business, Montgomery Securities, to Bank of America—with a gift of 400 pieces to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. When he retired in 1999 and the couple moved to their Vail home permanently in 2000, the Denver Art Museum was in the process of adding its critically acclaimed, Daniel Libeskind–designed Hamilton Building. So the Logans donated another 250 pieces to Denver’s contemporary art collection, hoping in the process to build a critical mass of contemporary works in that city that would spill over into the nascent Vail visual arts scene.

Their vision for their biggest donation—the Vail home valued at $15 million at the time of their gift in 2006—is that it will remain a private gallery hosting both events and artists and curators in residence. Ideally, the gallery would foster greater appreciation and understanding of the contemporary visual arts throughout Colorado.

Both in their 70s, the couple now spend much of their time at a new home in Arizona, but their local visual arts legacy reflects a continued commitment to what Kent Logan deems the “software” side of Vail.

When he ran for Vail Town Council in 2003 as part of his fierce commitment to fixing the town’s stalled redevelopment efforts, Vail was plagued with aging town infrastructure built in the boomtown days of the 1960s and ’70s. Logan says the council he served on took advantage of a window that slammed shut with the global recession of 2008. “Everything we did has held us in good stead and got us through a very difficult period in much better shape than most other resort communities around the country,” he explains.

But he believes the town may now be reaching a state of build-out at which the focus should be more on the programs, events, businesses, and people that make up the community—collectively, in Logan’s formulation, its software—rather than the next building boom.

“I think we’re a very hardware-oriented community,” says Logan, a former member of the Vail Valley Foundation board and a proponent of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Vail International Dance Festival. “The answer is always, ‘Let’s build a new building; let’s build things.’ We’ve not had the proper emphasis on software. What goes in it? What’s the programming? What’s the value of it?”

With contributions like those of the Logans, the Vail Valley value proposition is eminently more evident—as plain as the art on the wall.

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Image: Preston Utley

SARAH WILL: Opening doors and minds in the Vail Valley

Outwardly at least, four-time Winter Paralympic sit-ski racer Sarah Will’s record thirteen medals (twelve gold, one silver) seemed to come easily. What’s been a little tougher since her competitive retirement following the 2002 Salt Lake City games has been educating the able-bodied community about access issues in the Vail Valley.

Will counts as her crowning achievement the smooth strip of cobblestones she lobbied the Town of Vail to install during a streetscape overhaul in Vail Village several years ago. People with disabilities, parents with strollers, even women in stiletto heels can thank Will for that grassroots advocacy campaign.

But besides that literally middle-of-the-road effort, Will has been a relentless educator on how local businesses and governments can go above and beyond mere Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Much of the improved wheelchair access in and around Vail and Beaver Creek can be traced to Will—who broke her back in a skiing accident at Aspen Highlands in 1988 and has not missed a ski season since—working tirelessly to make Eagle County an outdoor recreation destination for people with disabilities.

“Everybody usually says, ‘Oh, you ski. Do you go to Winter Park?’ You might not even know a person with a disability, but you know that Winter Park has the biggest disabled ski program,” notes Will, referring to the National Sports Center for the Disabled. “But they don’t have a town, so in two days you’re bored to death. When you come here, there’s so much to do.”

Improving access and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities in the Vail Valley just makes good business sense, adds Will, who notes the increasing number of wounded veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. People with disabilities often drive vacation decisions for their entire family or group of friends. But simply providing access and saying you’re open for business falls short of delivering all of the information needed to plan a trip to a mountainous, alpine environment that’s typically thought to be difficult to navigate.

“People with disabilities, when they’re well accommodated, are very loyal customers,” Will says. “It doesn’t take much to do that, because sometimes people with disabilities are so used to not getting what they need that when they do find it, they’re always going to come back.” Signage, maps, and plenty of advance information and marketing on the Internet are simple ways to make people feel much more comfortable about a trip to the mountains, and she outlines these ideas and others at the website she owns and operates,

“If people are less stressed, they take more time where they are because they’re relaxed, and when they do that they spend more money,” Will explains. “The idea is to take away any uncertainty in their trip so they can look things up on our website prior to getting here. That takes a little bit of the anxiety out of planning.”

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Image: Preston Utley

KARA HEIDE: Preserving the Vail Valley’s awe-inspiring places

In the summer of 1975, under a full-moon midnight sky, Kara Heide drove over Vail Pass on old U.S. Highway 6 in a seafoam green 1968 Ford Mustang towing a horse trailer. She woke up the next morning in East Vail, and the drama of the waterfalls, Gore Creek, the ragged cliffs, and the Gore Range took her breath away. Forty-Four years later, she still gets a special feeling every morning she wakes up in Eagle County.

“It still sends goose bumps, and it still has the magic—as corny as it sounds—that it did back in the ’70s,” Heide says. “Being one of the fortunate ones to recognize immediately that this was home, I was able to hopefully contribute to shaping opportunities.”

These days those opportunities include providing financial support for medical crises as the non-profit and philanthropic advisor of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. And for year prior, she served as the Executive Director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust. Further, Heide served in a variety of capacities with Vail Associates and its successor, Vail Resorts, working in public affairs and directing corporate contributions until 2009. 

“I was able to watch our community evolve into a leading tourism destination, and I understand why, and my concern moving forward today is not taking yesterday for granted and protecting what distinguishes us,” Heide explains. “Basically, in a nice way, ‘Let’s not kill the golden goose.’”

That fateful night in 1975, Heide was on her way to work at an outdoor children’s camp in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area northwest of Eagle County. She quickly figured out that kids were the key to conservation. Even though she doesn’t have any of her own, Heide views the valley’s children as her responsibility, and she has taken many steps to ensure that they share her sense of awe at the surrounding outdoor environment. That’s what will translate, she says, to a desire to preserve this place for future generations.

A licensed National Rifle Association instructor and one of the first female outfitters in the state, Heide knows a bit about being out in the woods. She helped develop an outdoor education curriculum for Eagle County schools and later helped launch Vail’s Learn to Ski program for local schoolkids. That led to her formation of the Vail Adaptive Program, and in 1994 she won the Vail Valley Foundation’s Hornblower Award (now Citizen of the Year).

That, in turn, led to helping develop and coordinate the ski program for Eagle County Special Olympics and Small Champions, among many other local causes—from serving on the Vail Valley Charitable Fund board (and discreetly posing naked for its annual fundraising calendar—the one with Ryan and Trista Sutter on the cover) to serving as an ambassador for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

For Heide, every one of these endeavors is a thread in a web of opportunities. Weaving that web and drawing in the next generation are critical to preserving this awe-inspiring place, she says, and to ensuring the mental and physical health of the people who call it home or come to visit.

“When I think about how the world has changed since the day I moved here, one thing that certainly is not lost or absent from my awareness is stress,” Heide reflects. “Some people meditate or just need to be in a quiet place, and what gives them that gift? I don’t think anyone sits and meditates about an urban environment. Don’t they visualize maybe an ocean, a lake, maybe the mountains?”   

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