A tradition of hope: Evergreen Fine Art unveils new Evergreen Angel

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In observance of a tradition now 21 years old, on the morning of Sept. 21 a glad company of neighbors assembled at Evergreen Fine Art Gallery on Evergreen Parkway to brew a spot of tea, pour a little bubbly and formally welcome “Michelle” into the heavenly ranks of the Evergreen Angels.

“She’s beautiful,” said gallery owner and Angel Tea hostess Barb Hadley. “Such graceful wings. She’s very angelic.”

Michelle is that. She’s also remarkably well traveled for one so young. Several months ago Hadley offered artists across the nation the opportunity to submit their vision for Michelle. Given the Evergreen Angel’s international reputation, she received a flood of hopeful designs. All were beautiful. Most were angelic. And yet …

“This was the last one that came in,” Hadley smiled. “It’s by an artist named Susan Gurganus in Providence, R.I. We took one look at her and said, ‘Bingo!’ ”

But Michelle wasn’t home yet. Because an Evergreen Angel’s reputation is built on quality as well as beauty, Hadley and company still had much to do.

“At that point it was just a drawing,” Hadley explained. “We all tweaked it, then had it translated into a wax model which was sent to our silversmith, Janet Martinez in Crestone, to be cast in sterling silver.”

The graceful herald that came winging back across the Divide was very angelic, indeed, but her journeys had only just begun. If Evergreen Angels are beloved locally, they are as often to be found giving joy and comfort to hearts across the country and beyond the seas.

“They fly all over the world, and people give them for all different reasons — Christmas, births, christenings, graduations, retirements and bereavements. Sometimes when you don’t know what to do, an Angel can be very comforting.”

Gallery employee Jan Thulin offered a story that, if not necessarily typical, certainly illustrates the Evergreen Angel’s powers to sustain and console.

“There’s a man with a donated kidney who buys three angels every year,” Thulin said. “One for the donor, one for his wife, and one for his mother. He told me that every new Evergreen Angel is one more year he’s still alive.”

And one more year that Mt. Evans Home Health and Hospice will receive much-needed support for its caring mission. When Evergreen Fine Art’s original owner, Virginia Haley, created the first Evergreen Angel in 1993 to honor her grandmother, she bestowed the proceeds from “Sarah” upon Mt. Evans. It’s a tradition that Hadley and her husband, Phil Shanley, are pleased to continue.

“Phil was on the first hospice board, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Hadley said. “At this point I think the Evergreen Angels have raised almost $200,000 for Mt. Evans. It’s a natural relationship. We’ll do anything we can to help them.”

Like those angels before her, Michelle can be purchased wearing her signature silver raiment, or adorned with a bright heart of fire citrine, or even cast in gold. But whatever her incarnation, and whether she’ll be worn home at the end of a delicate chain, or hung in a stocking by the fire with care, or delivered into hands a world away, she’ll come beautifully packaged and accessorized as desired.

“The angel is a symbol of hope, and of caring,” Chaplain Nancy Nelson told Hadley’s guests. “Mt. Evans is a group of angels.”

In view of the many blessings Michelle will bestow in the coming year, it’s only fitting that she receive one of her own, and Nelson was tapped to perform the simple rite.

“The word ‘angel’ is from the original Hebrew word for ‘messenger.’ This angel is a deeply felt symbol that we send forth into the world never knowing who it will touch.”

To learn more about the Evergreen Angel, call 303-679-3610, or visit www.evergreenangel.com.