There are opera lovers and then there is Dan Perry. He’s attended performances at the Santa Fe Opera for 30 years — sometimes to the tune of 30 or 40 in a single season. In 2012, he saw all 12 performances of Tosca. “I’m all in for Puccini,” he said. He was a member of the SFO board of directors from 2012 to 2017, during which time he and his wife, Ashlyn, served on several gala committees and hosted numerous after-parties for the principal artists, “until the wee hours of the morning.”
The Perrys, who met in a writing workshop in San Antonio taught by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, moved full-time to Santa Fe in 2011 after visiting for many years. They chose Santa Fe for a variety of reasons, but “the arts are so central to Santa Fe’s soul that its pull on us was relentless,” Dan said. “We collect art, are truly inspired and amazed by it, and we enjoy the performing arts that are available here.”
Currently, Dan Perry is vice president of the Museum of New Mexico’s board of trustees, and Ashlyn Perry is a member of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission. They co-chair The Centennial Campaign for the New Mexico Museum of Art — a $12.5 million undertaking — and together they have been named Major Contributors to the Arts in the 2018 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. They were key to securing the major gift for the new Vladem Contemporary, the extension of the New Mexico Museum of Art planned for the Railyard. Dan was effusive when asked about his hopes and dreams for the space, certain that it will be transformational for Santa Fe.
“The Plaza and Railyard will seemingly be joined, as locals and tourists can now walk from the heart of downtown to the O’Keeffe Museum, the Vladem, and SITE Santa Fe, with outstanding galleries, restaurants, and shops in between.” He mentioned partnerships with the nearby Jean Cocteau Cinema and New Mexico School for the Arts, and said the planned architecture will incorporate views of the mountains and sky. “And we predict that the outdoor patio on the second floor will be a favorite venue for weddings and parties.”
Mary J. Kershaw, director of the New Mexico Museum of Art, said that without the Perrys, the new contemporary museum would be impossible. “Sometimes these things are more honorary positions, but Dan and Ashlyn have been truly active, and without their involvement, we would not be where we are in the campaign.”
The Perrys have made generous contributions to all four of the state museums in Santa Fe and were responsible for the purchase of the sculpture Valentino Tzigiwhaeno Rivera (2008-2016) for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Through their family foundation, they support children’s charities, the arts, and conservation efforts. The Perrys do not know who nominated them for the Governor’s Award and were shocked when they were notified. “We give because it makes us feel good that we are making a positive difference for our beloved community,” Dan said. “Being recognized for it is humbling and kind of surreal.”