(1935 - )
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Phil Shanley started collecting art when he was a little kid. His grandfather had been an engraver in San Francisco and was always sketching or drawing or fabricating things, Phil recalled. With that exposure, he inherited a strong interest in and appreciation for art, dabbling in glass blowing along the way.
Phil and his young family relocated to Evergreen from Chicago in 1972 where he’d been a manufacturer’s representative in the high-end furniture business. They’d been vacationing along Upper Bear Creek for several years in a cabin that would later be immediately next door to the home where he would live much of his life.
Phil started a 23-year career in the real estate industry at a time when the summer community of Evergreen was evolving to a year-round community, adding about 1,000 new residents annually. He found other professionals in Evergreen to be very accepting and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with people of all backgrounds.
“People here have a special connection,” he says, referring to the tendency for everyone to get to know a wide spectrum of folks like the trash truck drivers, grocers, CPAs and attorneys. “No one ever transferred to Evergreen, Colorado,” he pointed out. “Everyone who’s here wants to be here.”
By 1976 – with two partners – he’d opened Colorado Real Estate Brokers, a company that he operated for 20 years with his second wife, Barb Hadley. “Back in those days Realtors wore coats and ties daily in Evergreen,” he said with a I-know-that’s-hard-to-believe look on his face.
From 1974 to 1991 he chaired the Evergreen Board of Realtors Building Trades Program, which was formed as a way to keep students from dropping out of Evergreen High School by exposing them to a variety of construction skills. Students in the Industrial Arts program built and sold a home each year, the proceeds from which would provide financing for the building of the next home. (Read the story of the Building Trades Program by clicking here.) The program ceased in 1991, but Phil is hopeful he and other trustees of the remaining funds can start a similar program in one of the local schools to offer alternatives to students wishing to pursue a trade instead of college.
In 1976 he was named Realtor of the Year by the Evergreen Board of Realtors.
The Fire Department
Phil served as a director of the five-person board governing the Evergreen Fire Protection District for 34 years, from 1974-2008, serving as board president for some of that time. During that period, the district experienced significant expansion, adding stations in Bergen Park, Marshdale, on Floyd Hill and Brook Forest, as well as in Kittredge.
“The firefighters were always strongly supported by taxpayers,” said Shanley with pride. “They enjoyed state-of-the-art equipment and life-safety gear as well as state-of-the art training.” The addition of substations in outlying areas created quicker response times, thus lowering ISO ratings. In the mid-1980s the district took on providing Emergency Medical Services by absorbing the all-volunteer Evergreen Ambulance Service, offering a higher level of service to the community.
For years Public Service employees had comprised the nucleus of the fire fighting force; and when the branch manager of Public Service Company in Evergreen announced the company would no longer allow its employees to take time off the job to respond to fires, there was a serious concern that the volunteer fire department might be forced to change over to a paid department. However, because so many residents are now professionals working from home, the volunteer force has been able to continue, Phil explained. “The district can’t afford both paid firefighters and state-of-the-art equipment.”
In connection with his service on the fire district board, Phil served as a member of the Non-rated Public Security Standards Committee through the State of Colorado in 1991. In 1993 he was a member of the Colorado Municipal Bond Supervision Advisory Board.
Other community service
In the 1970s he was a member of the board of directors of the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, serving as its president in 1975. There was no paid staff, and expenses were minor. If the monthly balance sheet showed a shortage of $7.83, for instance, board members would dig into their pockets and come up with the funds to make up the difference.
He was a charter member of the Evergreen Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 1979 and became a member of the board of directors of Mt. Evans Hospice and Home Health Care in 1982, soon after the organization was founded. As of 2012, he continues to serve on the Advisory Board for Mt. Evans.
Through the Episcopal Church Phil served as a volunteer with the St. Francis Center in Denver, a homeless shelter, from 1984-1987. He was a member of the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Board between 1984 and 1988.
Phil was a founding board member of Art for the Mountain Community in 1994 and is a past-president. He chaired the selection committee for the first public sculpture purchased – “Spirit of the Land” by sculptor Madeline Wiener – and continues on the advisory board as of this writing. The organization works to put high-quality art in public places in the mountain area.
He served on the board of directors for Bootstraps for about 4 years but was deeply involved for a much longer period because of Barb’s presence on the board. His efforts were geared toward fundraising, and he was a member of the committee that started the Bootstraps Western Winefest in 2009. Although no longer on the board, he continues to be involved in both fundraising and the Winefest.
In the late 1990s Phil worked with inner-city youth and served as a mentor for Manual High School seniors applying for a Daniels Fund Scholarship. He was paired with a young man with the capacity to earn a full-ride scholarship to any university in the country, but the graduate was reluctant to leave his East Side neighborhood. Phil escorted him to Colorado College for a weekend, making key introductions that ultimately changed the young man’s mind. The student eventually spent a semester in Europe and, after graduating from CC, worked for the Denver Foundation.
The gallery business
In 1993 he and his wife began development of the Evergreen office complex known as La Plaza, a grouping of four adobe buildings along the frontage road between El Pinal and Stagecoach Boulevard. In 2008 Barb and Phil purchased Evergreen Fine Art (EFA) from Virginia Haley, one of the prime tenants of La Plaza. The gallery had opened in 1991 with high standards and achieved a reputation for excellence nationwide. It continues to be nationally known and recognized for displaying the work of accomplished regional artists throughout the West. EFA represents approximately 60 artists who work full time to make a living at selling art.
Phil and Barb added their own special touch by initiating “Weekend in the West” art show and sale in 2010, which benefits arts-in-education programs overseen by Center for the Arts Evergreen. Sixty accomplished artists participate with a weekend of events. One event is a quick draw, in which artists produce a finished piece in a 90-minute period; works are then auctioned off. By working with the arts teachers in area elementary schools, approximately 200 fifth-grade students create works of art on paper reminiscent of Colorado, 60 of which are juried and reproduced on china plates, then sold through a silent auction. “We want children to understand what it takes to create a piece of original art and to develop a better appreciation for art,” Phil says of the program that is meant to create an introduction to original art for youngsters.
Carrying on the tradition started by Virginia Haley in 1991, EFA continues to produce the Evergreen Angel. Until 2010 the EFA staff designed the annual sterling silver angel for pieces of jewelry, turning over drawings for a jeweler to fine tune the design and make a prototype. In 2010 EFA put out a call for designers to submit entries for a national competition. Proceeds from the sale benefit Mt. Evans Home Health and Hospice. In its first 21 years, the angel program has produced more than $100,000 in donations to the agency.
In 2012 EFA hosted the prestigious national juried show for the Oil Painters of America, an organization of approximately 4,000 of the best traditional oil painters in the country. It was the first time the national show had been held in the state of Colorado where the best 200 pieces of artwork were accepted for display. Attendance for the month-long exhibit included art aficionados from as far away as South Africa, Canada and Mexico City.
In 2012, Phil was recognized as “Arts Person of the Year” by Center for the Arts Evergreen for his numerous and varied contributions to the arts over the years.
Phil delights in being an involved part of the Evergreen community. Early on he recognized an opportunity to be connected, not in a forced way. “It just seemed natural, the right thing to do,” he reflected. “It is important to be a part of your community.