Volunteer Spotlight: Dobrila and Mirko Pintar
Dobrila and Mirko Pintar joined Cheekwood as volunteers in early 2020. They jumped right in, and started volunteering for a range of assignments right away, and continued on during our year of COVID challenges. Dobrila’s engaging energy when she greets guests is infectious….she really takes an interest in them, and you can see they appreciate her welcoming smile! Mirko’s ongoing interest and enthusiasm for learning more about our history, the gardens and Cheekwood provides for an enhanced experience as he shares with visitors. They both perform a vital role working with our registrar and historic curator team to help maintain our exhibits and historic artifacts in the Historic Mansion & Museum as Collections Tech volunteers. And Mirko attended our TRAINS! Exhibit training so he’s now certified to serve there. Dobrila also creates art and jewelry using glass as a medium. The Pintars are always flexible and willing to pivot if needed, fun to be with and are devoted to service. We are grateful they volunteer with us!
Tell us a little about yourself.
(Mirko) In October 2019 I retired from active flying as an airline pilot. My first flight as a student happened in March 1972. I was lucky to do something I love to do for 47 years and to call it my career. First 19 years I was based in Europe and besides having opportunity to visit almost all countries in Europe, I spent time in the Middle East and East Africa. The rest I flew mostly in the US and for the last 23 years I flew for Southwest Airlines. I enjoyed the creativity of flying. Every flight is different because the weather conditions are unique at the time you fly. That ultimately gives you an opportunity for creativity. Of course, there are FAA regulations, airplane limitations and company procedures that every pilot has to follow, but there is still that window that as a pilot gives you a challenge to show your skills.
(Dobrila) We moved from Chicago two years ago. Chicago was my home for 17 years where I worked, retired and had done a lot of volunteering work. I also had a studio where I was melting glass and teaching other students how to do that. I fell in love with Nashville and I was looking how to integrate with the community and how I can become more helpful with my volunteering skills. I was lucky enough when I got the opportunity to work at Cheekwood as a volunteer along with my husband.
What are your favorite hobbies, activities, or interests?
(Dobrila) I have quite a few hobbies and interests – golf, gardening and volunteering at Cheekwood.
(Mirko) I have many different activities mostly outdoor sports. I am a life-long tennis player and fan. For many years we traveled around the world to watch tennis tournaments. That love fit very well with our love to travel and learn to understand different cultures all over the world. Tennis runs in our blood and what more to say that Dobrila and I met on the tennis court 41 years ago, raised two children, both tennis players, one successful Division 1 player. Lately, we discovered a game of golf that we play frequently together. Again, this mutual love for golf gives us a chance to travel around the U.S. and discover the beauty of our country. No, we don’t share all activities. My interest in World History, especially European history is an interest that I’m passionate about.
What is your favorite garden or area at Cheekwood and Why?
(Dobrila) I love every single garden at Cheekwood, it is so difficult to exclude one from the other because they are so well taken care of and absolutely beautiful.
(Mirko) It has to be the Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden. It was my first assignment as a Cheekwood Volunteer and it was, I believe, the first event after the garden opening to the public. The garden is so well designed to utilize the natural slope of the land using serpentine walkways. It is so relaxing either to sit and enjoy the beauty of turtle pond or simply to walk around.
What is your favorite room or area in the Historic Mansion & Museum, Frist Learning Center, or Botanic Hall? Why?
(Dobrila) My favorite room in the Historic Mansion & Museum is the Drawing Room. Every time when I volunteer in that room I try to imagine how they use to spend their time and entertain friends. Also I love the entrance door and windows in that room, and the magnificent view to the gardens. I also admire the art left on the walls from the family. The Mansion had quite a few beautiful exhibits and one of my favorites is Chihuly at Cheekwood, Orchids in the Mansion, and In a New Light: American Impressionism 1870-1940. These three are my favorite because I blow glass, I garden, orchids are my favorite flowers, and I also paint so I can relate to all those fields.
(Mirko) The answer to this question will most likely surprise you. It’s the Frist Learning Center. Although, I never had a chance to take a workshop, I’m a lifetime learner and education is top priority in my life. Having a learning environment at Cheekwood is a good tool to promote the estate and gardens and recruit new volunteers.
Do you have a favorite art piece at Cheekwood, or, if not, a favorite exhibition that Cheekwood has hosted? Is there a reason you like it?
(Mirko) I like the concept of Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail. The fact that I enjoy walking and observing surroundings to create my personal visual art dialogue which one is constantly changing through seasonal nature changing. Also, I believe that this trail gives the best opportunity for additional sculptural art work.
Why did you become a volunteer?
(Dobrila) I became a volunteer at Cheekwood because I volunteered in Chicago in several places such as Slovenian Catholic center, Lillstreet Art center, Bridgeport Art Center, etc.
(Mirko) I had a lot of lows in my life when good people helped me or helped my family. Yes, I was the one who initiated and put a hard work, but I will never forget the support I received. Now is time to give back, help and support others and makes our society a better place. I volunteered a lot in the past and will continue to do so.
Is there a funny or inspirational story you can briefly tell about your volunteer experience?
(Mirko)I think it is funny what happened to me on my first shift as a volunteer at TRAINS! After a training session I stayed as a greeter. Not long after one car derailed. I stepped over the fence, put a car back on rail and somebody offered a hand to help me step back. Turns out that gentleman was Jim Crossman who made the TRAINS exhibit and new depot features possible in honor of his grandchildren.
Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Cheekwood?
(Mirko) It is a great place to meet, socialize, extend your knowledge to others and more important to learn from others. You will be surprised how many visitors know about the history of the Cheek family, art, specific exhibits, plants, and flowers.