by Janet I. Martineau
A Saginaw Township arts patron with an unusual claim to fame is this year’s recipient of Creative 360’s Art Sweetheart Award.
Patricia Shaheen will be honored on Monday, Feb. 14, during a 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. luncheon at Creative 360 (formerly Creative Spirit Center), 1517 Bayliss in Midland.
The award, which was begun in 2003, honors a mid-Michigan resident for his or her exceptional contributions of vision, leadership and commitment to the the arts for at least a decade.
So what is Shaheen’s unusual claim to fame? The women’s bathroom at the historic Temple Theatre in downtown Saginaw -- among many other things.
The Shaheen family has a long history of purchasing old structures and giving them a new lease on life. The ornate Temple, built in 1927 as a vaudeville house and movie theater, was in decline when it was purchased by the Shaheen family in 2002. The family’s firm spent $7 million dollars in restoring the 1,800-seat structure with adjoining ballrooms and bringing it up to code.
While her husband, Dr. Sam Shaheen, focused on the rest of the building, it is no secret Patty, as she is known, advocated for potty parity and helped design one with an unusual elegance.
Earlier this year, the women’s bathroom at the Temple was named the best bathroom in the nation in an “Enjoy the Go” competition sponsored by Charmin. No surprise, given its chandeliers and marble tile. In fact, tours of the Temple always include the bathroom.
The Shaheen family recently “donated” the Temple to the newly formed Temple Theatre Foundation. The Temple is home to the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, Saginaw Choral Society, Valley Concert Association and Riverside Saginaw Film Festival as well as other local events and touring shows.
Patricia Shaheen, a native of Springfield, Mass., also is a member of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra board and from 2004 to 2006 served as its president, a period when it successfully overcame a $280,000 debt. For the past 10 years she also has chaired the orchestra’s annual Holiday Housewalk fundraiser.
She is a founding member of the Art in Public Places project, a series of art exhibits and an annual statewide competition hosted at the Saginaw Township Hall. In 2008 she chaired Saginaw’s “A Night With the Hemingways” event as a part of the first Great Book Read sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council and also serves on the humanities council board.
And this year she joined the board of the Michigan Jazz Trail Festival, a Midland-based organization committed to celebrating the rich heritage of Michigan jazz by linking local festivals throughout the state.
In 2008, Mrs. Shaheen received the Governor's Award for Arts & Culture, Michigan's premiere state-wide celebration of arts, culture and creativity hosted by ArtServe. In 2004, she and her husband received the All-Area Arts Award
given by the Saginaw Arts and Enrichment Commission.
Shaheen also has served on the Saginaw Art Museum board and chaired its first endowment campaign; has served on the Saginaw Community Foundation Board, and in her early years here helped create a script and served as a puppeteer for a Mr. Yuk touring poison prevention program.
Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township is catering the Feb. 14 luncheon. Horizons, a former K-mart, is another Shaheen enterprise.
Tickets are $45, with reservations due by Thursday, Feb. 9. Call (989) 837-1885 or register online at www.becreative360.org.
Previous Art Sweetheart honorees are Dorothy Yates, Virginia (Ginny) Morrison, Barbara Prince-Sovereen, Sally Moss, Judy Rapanos, Nancy Barker and Ruby Iwamasa, all of Midland, and Janet I. Martineau of Saginaw Township.
Creative 360 is a not-for-profit community arts, humanities and wellness organization. It was incorporated in 1994. Its mission is to help people of all ages experience the creative process through classes, art exhibits, events, concerts, speakers and outreach programs.