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Sunday in the Park

I have always loved summer storms. The crackling sound of the thunder, the lightning that illuminates a black, cloudy sky. The wind turning lawn umbrellas upside down and the rain that makes slightly tired gardens look fresh again. I once took a photograph down on the Navajo reservation that captured that summer storm perfectly. The desert leading up to the dramatic, sudden mountains where an angry sky was playing out some primal electric dance of dark and light. And I swear, just by looking at that photo I could hear that lightning snap.

I have no idea what happened to that photograph.

But I have a small, very small, painting on my wall, a watercolor of a Park City icon, the Egyptian Theatre, on a soft snowy evening with a silhouette of a man in a cowboy hat standing off to the side. You have to have lived here a while to know who the man in the cowboy hat is. His wife would put him in those paintings as an ongoing valentine, before Hal was mayor here, and during and even years after. Not in all her paintings, mind you, like the iconic ones of the Miners Hospital or the white barn known now as McPolin but, in those days, as Doc Osguthorpe’s place. I don’t remember Hal appearing in those. And maybe he is in the detail of her larger format works of the Park City Mountain Resort but I don’t remember seeing him there.

More than any other artist of our Park City generation, Judy Taylor captured the essence of Park City and helped define what is precious to us. Her watercolors are a magical play of light and muted shapes that capture a romantic image we hold of our community and ourselves. Her sudden death this week shocked her large body of friends, many from the early ’70’s when she and her husband Hal first moved to town, before their beautiful boy, Cody, was even born. Thursday evening, in what started out a small gathering at the museum, where Judy volunteered, and spilled over to her friend, fellow artist Bonnie Deffebach’s garden outside her art gallery, more than a hundred people assembled to pay their respects to Hal and Cody and share stories about their friend. At one quiet point when JoAnn Krajeski was recalling to Cody a tennis match that took place between, was it Adolph and Stein? maybe, she talked about Judy being in the back of a convertible, leading off-color cheers. Cody (who is the same age as JoAnn’s son Kitt) said wistfully, "You guys really had fun." And JoAnn smiled and turned to me and said, "They’re always surprised at how much fun we had."

Judy loved Park City and recorded it for us in delicate detail. Her passion for history and community live on in her works. And in the love she showered on her husband and son. We will miss her great style and cheerfulness and her keen eye for seeing and recording the simple things, which, of course, never are.

Across town in the karmic sense, but technically in the county, also on Thursday evening, another family was just starting to grieve the death of their father, husband, brother and friend. More than a year ago, Alan Tucker was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His prognosis was never good. But the loving care of his wife Sheila, and his children, Nick, Luke and Molly, gave him more than a year to say the things he wanted to say and hear from friends whose lives he touched so deeply. Alan was in his early 50s. I met him more than a decade ago when one of my board members brought him to my house to look at the plans for the not-yet-built Eccles Center. He was known as the best sound man in the state. He immediately, but ever-so-politely, told us what had to be done at once to make the sound match the dreams we had for future performances. He sent us great engineers who, in the world of sound, have fancier names than that, but no matter. When we were ready to open the facility and in need of a technical director he applied and we hired him for a job none of us really knew anything about.

Besides setting the tone for professionalism and style (he always wore a collared shirt and tie backstage on the night of the show), he also turned out to be an extraordinary role model for students who would hang out at the theater. Students who were struggling. Not wanting to finish school or live at home or stay off drugs. Alan never lectured but, by example, he taught. And soon we had a program for students who wanted to learn stage craft. As a long-time member of the stagehands union, Alan was skilled and respected and had years of solid and amusing experience to share. Alan hired those students to work on the stage on show nights, after they had learned how to run and respect the equipment.

A few years ago Alan took a job in Salt Lake City at Abravanel Hall. The hours were more predictable and the pay substantially better. But he was always available to answer questions from us and he would bring his little family to the theater often. Last October when the monks came to perform and create a sand mandala for healing, Alan came, between chemo sessions and watched the mandala constructed just as he had watched the first time, six years ago when the Dali Lama’s monks had first visited us. Alan took some of the healing sand when the monks dismantled their artwork and carried it away with him. And though doctors had suggested Alan wouldn’t see Christmas, he did and beyond. Until this week, when surrounded by family he passed over at home.

This morning when I woke up early, the sky was getting ready to open up again with rain. Dark clouds were dancing across our mountains in a play of light that looked downright painterly. The crack of the distant thunder was not discordant but rather melodic. The heavens seemed just right. And the mist in the morning felt somehow metaphysical. And while we will miss them, Alan and Judy will continue their work if we pay attention, any day, like Sunday in the Park


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