When I arrived at THEMUSEUM this community allowed me to be successful with some early wins. We then announced our Andy Warhol exhibition.
A call from Visitor Services came saying a man by the name of Ron Doyle was here to see me. I knew him by his maverick reputation and for his creating the Hacienda but we had never met. To use Ron’s words “one wouldn’t pick Ron out of a crowd of two based on what he wore to be a wealthy man.” I gave him a tour as he peppered me gently with questions of what my vision was.
I recall at the time the theatre next door had been vacated and we had hopes of reopening it and managing it. I told him of a mini domed 70mm theatre and the creation of a film festival and theatre both local and international. I told him of Warhol and he asked me what kept me up nights about that show. I said while I had secured millions of dollars of artwork on loan I now needed to find funding to ensure climate control on our fourth level making it grade A exhibit space.
We shook hands and he left.
A week later he called and asked that I come meet for lunch around the corner at a restaurant he later owned. It was summer and we sat on the small patio. We made small talk until his friend showed up after playing golf. Ron turned and said to me “I’ve been lookin’ into that Warhol fellow you told me about, he is pretty impressive, how much do you need to upgrade the museum with climate control.” I mistakenly told him the truth, which was about $150K. He turned back to Irvin and said do you have $50K? Irvin surprised said, “well we worked together before.”
Ron then declared you have your $150K, don’t tell anyone who gave it to you, get a story in the paper for others to give and have a good night’s sleep.
I did all of those things and then about a week or two later it started to trickle in. First Carl Zehr, Mayor of the day, then reporters and associates. The line was “I hear Ron gave you $150K to help you grow” That was Ron.
At the opening of Warhol, with their backs to the huge screen, I welcomed Irvin and Ron. Irvin leaned in and asked that I not mention his name in my remarks as he hadn’t told his wife about his $50K. Unfortunately on the screen three times our size was a picture of the two of them and a huge THANK YOU! Ron’s snickered like a cartoon character.
Not always easy I stayed close to Ron over the decade listening to his plans and vision. I also stayed close once I learned of his disease. On Friday night we spoke for the last time. He told me to “build something really great Dave,” and then he said, “I have to go now.”