So there we were at a staff meeting one day deciding to launch a monthly magazine when it occurred to us that most of us only see our High Noon family once a year at the weekend in Mesa. And, when we’re there, it’s all business – show and auction business that is. But the staff at High Noon works all year long then travels hill and dale to be there each year for you and everyone who attends. Who are these crazy devoted people that wouldn’t miss this for the world? Trust us, we’re not in it for the money.
Each month Smoke Signals takes a look at the “real” side of one of our High Noon team members.
It’s quite an honor for High Noon to be able to have the best of the best in photography create the spectacular High Noon auction catalogs. Known as virtual history books of the Western experience, the photography of Myron and Steve capture the richness of each piece featured in our catalogs, using the subject and incorporating the art of light, the beauty of the High Noon catalogs is owed completely to their skill.
It started several years ago when Myron Beck would do the cover shots. Steve DeFurio began working with Myron soon after, and today Steve shoots the photography for the entire book and what an amazing job he does. The colors, the backgrounds, the lighting — it’s not just an auction catalog but a collectible book on photography alone.
In speaking with Steve, it’s apparent his passion for what he does drives his work. “Photography is about capturing the moment, it’s art at heart.”
Steve and Myron work together as very successful commercial photographers specializing in food photography with A-list clients including McDonalds, Dole, Uncle Bens, ConAgra and Hilton Hotels. “This pays the electric bill,” says Steve but their real passions lie elsewhere.
For Steve it’s fly fishing photography inspired by his love of the sport. A look at his ‘photography as art’ website (www.defurio.com) flipping through the images, you can immerse yourself in the scene with his ability to create an image which you virtually want to walk into.
For Myron, it’s working in the natural light and the drama of the Western landscape that inspires him. The sky, the stars, the mountains, they open your mind and allow your imagination to step beyond the expected.
The unexpected, the rich, the inspiring — these are the goals of the photographers behind the High Noon catalog and they capture our dreams perfectly.
In very short order, just a few days before the auction and show begins, Pete's eyes glaze over as boxes and boxes and then more boxes containing all of the lots for the upcoming High Noon auction are delivered, waiting to be unpacked and become presentation worthy. For more years then Pete can remember, he's been the one standing in this sea of boxes and paper, commandeering the unpacking of the over 400 lots - from artwork to the tiniest artifact - nothing's been lost but there have been a few close calls. Routinely, Pete recalls, each year, there's the frantic search for the one piece that's still hiding deep in that dark abyss of containers. With Joseph and Danny watching, the pressure is on to make sure every lot is accounted for and that the end presentation is western elegance extraordinaire. That's Pete's job and he does it better than anyone could ever imagine.
Whatever happens behind the scenes, Pete's not talking. But he does say that, over the years, they've developed a system that works like clockwork and now, "six old men can set up the preview room in half the time it used to take."
"It's really not that hard," Pete comments, "to make a room full of million dollar stuff look good." When asked have there been any close calls or stories you want to share? Funny incidents in the preview room? "Yes," he chuckles, "but I can't tell you any of them..." You can't tell? Please, Pete. We love your stories! Dry, droll, sometimes self-deprecating, Pete's stories of his family and life in Fargo, ND are hilarious! His jokes have been described as the Dust Bowl of Comedy. Moby, his big van, is the brunt of most of them. Like a petulant child, Moby stories should be serialized with tales of misbegotten trips and problematic electrical mysteries. Pete aided by his wife Kathy make a great comedy team when doing "Sven" jokes. And beloved Fargo gets romanticized with its lack of innate entertainment. Pete and Kathy make their own!
Once the show opens, you'll find Pete bouncing from his booth where his real business, Frontier Americana, is in full action, to the preview room, to acting as in-house expert for anyone needing information on antique firearms. Wife Kathy and daughter Andretta "man" the booth while Pete flits about.
Pete's life revolves around the history and world of firearms, logging thousands of miles each year in search of and selling the finest there is. His shop in Fargo, also known as Frontier Americana, which he has had for 13 years, is a virtual museum of pre-1899 western firearms. The shop also features the finest in Western and Native American art and furnishings.
When asked if there is anything in his personal collection he would never part with Pete responds: "My 18th century Scottish flintlock pistol. I would never sell that." When asked what advice he would give to new dealers coming into the business? "Make sure you have a wife with a good job." That's Pete and his insatiable sense of humor. He adds light and levity to the High Noon event and our High Noon family.
P.O Box 887
Fargo, ND 58107
High Noon Bookkeeper (through whom all cash flows)
Most people perceive those involved with finances and bookkeeping to be rather dry, dull personality types whose lives revolve around spreadsheets and Excel docs. Leave it to High Noon to find the one who can be found up to five nights a week dancing her shoes off at the Hacienda Hotel (one of her favorite L A spots) — West Coast Swing, Country Western, The Hustle and Line Dancing — she’s there, she’s good and she’s tireless. Dancing’s her first passion but she also loves the movies. Keeping tone with her insatiable and dry sense of humor, “Weekend at Bernie’s,” “Overboard” and “Grease” are her faves. Again, it’s that wacky personality that keeps all of us smiling whenever Lynda’s around.
A born and raised L A Valley girl, Lynda actually was once very reserved and shy, beginning her bookkeeping career in the finance office in high school. Graduating college with a focus in accounting, Lynda was then a wife and mother and living the serious life. It was at the age of 28 she recalls, when she decided to change things up a bit – live those teenage years she didn’t when she was younger. And we are so glad she did! Yes, she’s crack at her profession but spend time with her in the staff office in Phoenix and soon tears are rolling down your cheeks from laughing so hard. Lynda is a ray of sunshine with just a hint of sarcasm thrown in.
Lynda’s life is filled with friends and family. She has three younger sisters with whom she is close and son Brian, who at 33, is the apple of her eye. With no grandchildren yet, her special nephews and nieces and now great nephews and great nieces fill the grandchildren role just perfectly. She lives her life as the “queen of her castle” and when asked, “Do you have any pets?” In typical Lynda style, her response is, “Nothing with four legs lives in this house unless they’re uninvited or dead.”
When Lynda’s not out dancing or working her pencil to the nub in finance, she spends time with her “adopted grandson, Gustavo,” the 10 year old son of friends who adds such joy to her life. Special to her for many reasons and born to Spanish-only speaking parents, her role as mentor, teacher and friend is something she cherishes.
Lynda did her time in the corporate world, working for the “dreaded” major CPA firm until, in true Lynda style, she got “pissed off and quit”. That was three years ago when she started her own business and we’re glad she did. Now we have her, her high level of professionalism and her no-nonsense approach to life. It was 2am the night before this interview that Lynda finally closed and locked the door to the High Noon office – yes, she’s good and dedicated to the highest level of performance.
She writes checks, cashes checks, processes payroll (thank God) and reconciles and tracks the seven different sets of books that keep a complicated operation like High Noon straight. Every “t” is crossed and “i” dotted — nothing gets past this gal and we love her!
Linda and Joseph find their greatest pleasure in life revolves around their four grown children. Two of their daughters live nearby in Los Angeles (one got married last spring), one is in New York (who affords them a great excuse to visit often) and a son in San Francisco. Their latest child is a Maltese named Bella, who accompanies them to work quite often. Being somewhere vertically challenged, Bella is not always able to accompany them on their hikes throughout Southern California and on vacation, but waits patiently for their return in Casa Sherwood. Casa Sherwood? The perfect name for Linda and Joseph's house in West Los Angeles where friends and family often congregate. Spend the afternoon or spend the weekend - there's always room at the Sherwood Bed & Coffee...
In their free time Linda and Joseph are passionate about exercise. They hike, getting out into nature, combining work and play (they hike each year in Santa Fe) and work-out at home. They believe, that at the end of the day, life is about being fit, so they can continue to indulge in food and wine wherever they go.
We all know Danny for his love for trading and offshore fishing. If he could, today he would spend the majority of his time wrangling some large fish from the ocean- maybe not every day, just those that end in 'y'. But talk to Danny about his role as a falconer, and his eyes light up with passion so infectious you don't want his story to end.
In 1971, there were only two nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons left in California. Due to toxins and chemicals in the environment, the Peregrine population was near extinct. For 20 years (1975 - 1995) Danny was involved, along with a group of biologists, conservationists, and Falconers, in saving the Peregrine Falcon population from extinction, raising them in captivity then releasing them back into the wild. Through their commitment, the Peregrine Falcon went from near extinction in California to a healthy population of over 200 pairs. The next time you're driving over the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge, keep your eyes open. There is a nesting pair on each of them, as well as downtown San Francisco and Los Angeles. Well done Danny!
High Noon Office Manager | Show Manager | World Traveler
For the past 12 years, Audrey has been the "afternoon voice" of High Noon. It's her signature sunshiny tone when she answers the phone that says you've called the right place. Good day, bad day, a stressed-to-the-max, it doesn't matter to Audrey, she'll never let on. Her first priority is to take care of anything you might need. If she doesn't know the answer, she'll find out and she will call you back. Let's call her the "nerve center" of the office - it all rotates around Audrey.
Whether it's her job or her personal life, Audrey goes to mat, leaving no stone unturned or opportunity overlooked.
When she's not "High Nooning" Audrey spends her time living life to the fullest with her foremost passion being travel. He personal goal is to see every corner of the earth. So far, she's banked Alaska, China, London, Spain and France with Costa Rica next on the list. These adventures she shares with husband Greg Simoes who she met about nine years ago through an online dating site.
Many of us know Greg as the official High Noon shuttle driver each year at the show. But did you know that you were being shuttled by the Exhalted Ruler of the Culver City Elks Lodge? Bet not. That would make Audrey the First Lady of the Elks Lodge, a role she embraces with pride. She and Greg work tirelessly and selflessly in their respective roles dedicating their time to producing fundraisers for homeless shelters and charity benefits for children of disadvantaged and low-income families.
Not traveling or fundraising? Audrey and Greg hit the town going to dances, plays, and concerts. Comments Linda Kohn Sherwood: "Audrey and Greg go to more cultural and entertainment events than anyone else I know in Los Angeles!"
Linda comments further that "Audrey has won more contests than anyone I know as well." Whether it's dialing into a radio station or entering a sweepstakes, Audrey has won concert tickets, movie tickets, money, a stereo system, gifts... you name it, she's won it. Maybe she'll win a trip around the world next - that would be perfect!
And the end of a long day or after returning from a long trip, Audrey snuggles up with the two real loves in her life, Sugar and Spice, her precious calico cats. Perhaps she's just a home girl at heart.
High Noon Event Coordinator | Mom/Grandmother/Wife/Friend | Keeper of the Perennial Christmas Tree
Under that ubiquitous, large & beautiful hat lives Theresa Verrier, a small town cowgirl who now resides in Los Angeles. For all of you who have questions about the show, the patient voice on the High Noon end answers them all with her country charm and big smile.
At each High Noon show, you can find her zipping around in her little mobile, making sure each detail is perfect and every dealer happy. She takes a break, though to kick up her heels when the Buckarettes begin to play. Her husband, Danny, smiles whenever he leads her to the dance floor.
Many things make her smile besides High Noon. Walk into her home on any day of the year to see a majestic, fully decorated Christmas tree each ornament handpicked and perfectly placed -colorful, whimsical - the perfect reflection of who she is. And yes, this masterpiece stays up year-round. When asked if she dusts each of these ornaments throughout the year? She looks at you with that cunning look that only Theresa has and says "What, are you crazy darlin'?"
She also has an eight-year-old reason to smile: Arianna, her precocious and precious granddaughter who lives in Denver. Two weeks ago Ari (or the "Muffin" as she is fondly nicknamed) participated in the Colorado Ballet's presentation of "A Midnight's Summer's Dream" as a flowergirl. Grandma Theresa flew to the performance, sitting in the 3rd row with her daughter, mother and sister. What a beautiful sight that must have been!
And what keeps Theresa busy when she's not High Noon'ing? Over the past year Theresa has begun to realize and implement perhaps her true calling. She has been training intensively to be an EFT Practitioner. EFT standing for Emotional Freedom Techniques - an extremely powerful method for helping individuals reduce stress in their lives, eliminate fears and get to the root of their happiness. Theresa is adamant about the right for everyone to be emotionally happy and physically healthy. She looks to the day when she gains her certification, to work with Veterans particularly, who have experienced extreme trauma.
Passion, vigor, tenacity and advocate for good life - that's our Theresa Verrier.
Theresa would love to share EFT with all of you. For more information on how she can work with you, email her at email@example.com.
Designer Extraordinaire, Webmistress & High Noon Graphic Umpire
She's pretty amazing, our Robin Ireland, the person behind the richness and beauty of High Noon's advertising and auction catalog. Hard to believe that a biker chick from LA can crank out that kind of work...
Biker chick? Well, she grew up with a love of open spaces. A love she acquired on her summer cross country trips with her parents. How does a girl growing up in LA satisfy her thirst for the open range? Wind in her hair? She gets herself a motorcycle and hits the road...the perennial flower child with creative energy busting from her soul and a need to feel communion with the beauty of the world around her.
From the time Robin was a small child, she loved creating and building, combining both her artist and practical sides. From Tinker Toy skyscrapers to skyscraper web ads, if it needs to be built and built beautifully, she can do it. Truth be known, instead of designing websites, she'd rather have her hands in clay - instead of building databases, she'd relish casting bronze sculptures. When asked what her favorite job has been? Without hesitation, she replies the summer she spent working construction, building houses. She still drives by and sighs with pride that she helped create those structures. Lucky for High Noon, she decided to make a career using her artistic side in graphic design.
That longing to build and create was the driving force behind Robin's course of study and degree in art and design. Her independent spirit led her to start her own design business in 1989 - Ireland Graphic Design. Happy 20th Anniversary Robin! Robin's repertoire of clients is national, from symphonies to summer camps - she makes the world a more beautiful place to look at. Her independent spirit is expanded "giving back" by spending a great deal of her time teaching and mentoring young designers and artists. She's never too busy to answer a question or lend an artistic helping hand.
But what else does this crazy biker-chick-turned-designer do? Well, for starters, during baseball season, on any given Friday, you'll find her and her hubby of 24 years at a Dodgers game. Both passionate about baseball, one of their many mutual goals is to visit every baseball stadium in the country. They clipped off New England and New York last year and are looking toward the Midwest this year. To Robin, baseball reminds her of growing up - Dad always had a ball game on the radio. While an avid American League fan, Robin has compromised with her National League-preferring husband.
Robin, is a teacher, a friend and tireless, consummate professional and we are honored to have her in our High Noon family.
Ireland Graphic Design
Gentleman | Educator | Preservationist
It's not good editorial conduct to refer to one's own feelings when writing a story but in this case, I must. I stared at my screen for over an hour after reviewing my notes from my interview with one of the most engaging, surprising and passionate people I've ever had the honor to interview. I knew that nothing I wrote could do justice to the breadth and depth of this individual we call Rawhide (yes, it's his REAL name), the man who we see in the High Noon and Cody Old West auction preview & check-out rooms. He's the man with the twinkle in his eye, who surrounds himself with a staff of drop-dead gorgeous, bright & hard working young women from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and who runs those rooms with an iron fist. Who is Rawhide? Wow, I had no idea but I'll do my best to encapsulate a most amazing life in just a few short paragraphs. - Jayne Skeff
Born and raised on a ranch in Montana to hard working parents, his father was "pure cowboy." Growing up, the ranch still used teams with wagons and as Rawhide recalls, "I've backed up more teams than most people have driven forward."
On the cusp of the tractor age, the new mechanical wonders were eventually employed on the ranch, but his father, being pure cowboy, wanted nothing to do with their maintenance or repair. The job of engineering those behemoths in order to keep the ranch running fell to Rawhide. Experiencing this transition from horse to tractor to train is likely what inspired his passion for becoming one of the country's most eloquent and definitive resources on the history of western transportation. His dedication to preserving this important part of American history is what consumes most of his time.
He was the founding board member of the National Stagecoach and Freight Wagon Association whose mission is to preserve these vehicles, which enabled the country move West. He's also the Chairman of the Board of the South Museum of Yellowstone where he spends a good portion of his time. He has developed Western transportation educational programs for museums across the country and has consulted on and been involved in the production of numerous movies and television shows including PBS Frontier House. Oh, did I mention he is also integrally involved in water development and conservation programs for ranches in Wyoming and Montana? Did I mention he just also happens to own more Yellowstone stagecoaches than anyone in the world?
Who is Rawhide? Complex, compelling, committed to everything that represents the heart and soul of the West. Perhaps it was fate he was born with jaundice to a true-to-heart cowboy father who took one look at him and said, "he looks like a piece of rawhide."
Treasured Friends, Family and a Treasure Trove of Fun
In wrapping up the interview with Jeff, he took an aside and reflected: "A couple of months ago, Estee and I were on our way back from picking up some hay in town for our horses. My dog Sonny was in the back and Estee was at my side in the truck. Just driving along, I realized I have everything in life I ever dreamed of." Wow, not many of us can say that but it's hard to think of any two people more deserving of this happiness than our Jeff and Estee. Soulful, sincere, caring - just a few words that barely begin to do justice to this team of two that can have you crying tears of laughter from their irreverence or spellbound by their insightful views on life and how to live it to the fullest.
Just to be involved in the energy and spirit of High Noon - that's their motivation to come down off their New Mexico ranch high in the mountains and join us each year, VOLUNTEERING their time, working the grueling hours from opening auction preview, bidder registration, the auction itself and check out into the wee hours of the morning. They are there and they are smiling because they are happy just to be there and we are honored that they are.
How did this all happen? How did High Noon get so lucky? Since 1994, Jeff and Estee would escape their Los Angeles life and come each year to High Noon to add to their collections of the finest in Western and Indian and visit long-time friends. Admittedly not the biggest collectors (although Estee is a confessed shop-o-holic) they remember always being embraced by Joseph and Linda and everyone involved with High Noon. One year upon their arrival, they popped into the auction preview room and no one was there. So, being who they are, they asked Joseph if he wanted them to "hang out" for a bit and cover the area. "Great - that would really help - thanks!" Three days later, they're still "covering the preview room...oops." And that's how it began - a High Noon snafu begets a life-long friendship with two of the worlds genuine gems.
Speaking of gems, let's look at Estee and the fabulous jewelry she creates. Yup, she's a "beadiac!" It's "hobby run amuck" she says as she watches you flip through her catalog of page after page of absolutely gorgeous beaded necklaces - all one of a kind works of art that rival any of today's noted jewelry artisans. She's also a show producer in her own right coordinating a monthly outdoor artist's market in their community near Santa Fe. Conveniently, the perfect opportunity to promote her own line of jewelry which is donned by stylish women from across the Southwest.
A look into Jeff reveals the unexpected. Shy and reserved and reluctant to talk about himself, very few of us know what a power house in the ad agency biz he was throughout his career. Always a bit of a renegade (explains why the Air Force didn't ask him to re-up when he was young) his intrinsic artistic ability was quickly recognized by the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles followed by a stellar career as Art Director in one of the "big 2" Los Angeles agencies. You don't get to be on a first name basis with the president of Porsche or Volkswagen unless you make really nice commercials. You also don't win a Cannes Silver Lion Award for being mediocre. When asked what he won the Cannes award for? In typical Jeff style (with a sparkle in his eye) the response is "Oh, for some stupid TV commercial I did." When asked if he still has the award? "I asked Estee a while ago if it was still around. She said, 'yeah, somewhere in a box'. " You know darn well she knows exactly where it is. She also knows that this was Jeff's work, not the heart and soul of the man she loves. Today, who they really are is reflected in the life they share, now miles from Los Angeles on their ranch in the New Mexico mountains, surrounded by their horses, their dogs and cats, their friends and each other. "Our dreams have come true."
And for us, our dream has come true - they are and always will be part of our family.
Interested in wearing some of Estee's amazing jewelry?
Email her for more info and photos:
Chief Writer, Smoke Signals | Public Relations, High Noon
Ever down? Need a burst of sunshine or some optimism? Go see Jayne! She will give you the lift you need! Jayne is High Noon's "voice" in the media. Three years ago, she joined our team to help "tell our story" to you all, through our website, in the press and as Chief Writer for this emagazine, Smoke Signals.
Born and raised in cold Milwaukee, Jayne acquired the passion for the outdoors and California. From skiing to mountain biking to outdoor exercise to marathons, she loves the wind in her hair and the mountains within view! Obsessive about walking, she has run in the LA Marathon many times and finished!!!!!! Look for her most mornings and she is moving fast. She may have her cell phone in hand, but is usually outbound in the hills above Pasadena. Want to meet her 3 miles from home? She'll meet you there - she'll walk, thank you - then walk back home.
When she returns home, cooking is her passion. Spanish cuisine, Italian, you name it. Often you can find her in her kitchen, getting her hands dirty, creating new recipes. She loves having her guests keep her company while she prepares and is happy as long as everyone has a glass of wine in hand.
Jayne's college degrees are in child psychology. She loved the science all the way through the doctorate program, the neurology and behavior aspect, but she look a right turn when she married a young rising star with the New York Times. She became enamored with the energy, the smarts, and tenacity of the media world. It was infectious! Due to her husband's encouragement, she got a job the National Sports Daily (Los Angeles) in their West coast operation. By the late 80's, with no experience, but with his support, she learned "on the job". An 18 month stint in Chicago gave her more training with "dailies" and the legendary Chicago Sun Times! Her second winter, while shoveling snow off her car with no one offering to help her, she decided to return to the California sun.
Off to San Francisco she ran (not literally, no marathons yet). Now partnering with her husband instead of being mentored, they began the first Western Antique paper, the Antique Journal in Northern California from the ground up: writing, advertising sales, production, ad design, paste-ups. Oh, and they actually drove around the Bay area delivering the papers! From Reno to the Gold Country to Sonora she drove. Five years of this experience got the attention of Antique Week (DNG World Media) who scooped her up to launch its own version of a Western antiques trade publication. That was enough! She had learned the art of public relations from the publishing point of view. But now she saw a future in it for herself from the other side! By 2003 she had gone off on her own this time, forming a public relations firm, JSLA Media!
Her first client was an auction house, then her second, then her third. She seemed to be drawn to auctions and we're glad she was, because High Noon found her and she joined our team! The whole experience of being associated with High Noon has affected her life, she says. 4 years ago she knew nothing of the Western lifestyle. Today she says it has opened up a whole new dimension to her: people and the culture have expanded her vision of life and the world. "They enrichened me," she says of the people and artisans. "Oh and I love the jewelry - the earrings!" She dreams of living more of the culture - perhaps on a ranch some day so she can be outdoors ALL the time. It's better than eating cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair, she claims. We're happy to have you in our lives, Jayne. Thank you for all your work and words for Smoke Signals! Keep those articles and enthusiasm coming!