The Ways to an Electric Evening

The pARTy to support Phoenix Art Museum took "Neon" as its theme.


Bright color came in many forms: Three of Mesa’s famous “Diving Lady” sculptures, on loan from the city’s Historic Preservation Program, added colorful drama to the indoor cocktail space outside the Ellen and Howard C. Katz Wing for Modern Art, and neon necklaces in vases in the Dorrance Sculpture Garden brightened the outdoor cocktail area. The Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo exhibit, still on display in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery, added a colorful window to the hall as well. 


Chairs Mary and Bill Way relished the neon glow. Art brought them together when they were in college, and they have continued to enjoy it throughout their lives.


The couple met at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Bill was from Seattle; Mary, from the Bay Area. When Mary expressed interest in a particular Japanese printmaker, Bill, recognizing opportunity when he was faced with it, said, “I know where you can see some of his work.”


It just happened that his dad had amassed a considerable collection of hanga – contemporary Japanese – prints. Whether that sealed the deal or not, Bill doesn’t say. But it probably didn’t hurt his cause.


The Way family: John, Bill, Mary, Tricia and Lexie


After college, Bill earned a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. Because of that and his subsequent career with Accenture, the couple has lived and worked around the world. Their children – twin girls, Lexie and Tricia, 21, and in college, and a son, John, who is now a junior in high school, have attended schools in England, Arizona and Tokyo.



The Way children spent some of their school years in England. All are dual citizens of the U.S. and U.K. Left, a trip to Stonehenge; right, a ride on the upper deck of a London bus.


Twins Lexie and Tricia with John at Scottsdale Honors Cotillion. Both girls graduated from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.


When Bill’s position took the family to Tokyo for five years, Mary became involved in the print scene through a charity that supports the arts community. She was offered positions with the organization – first as curator and then as director of the largest exhibition and sale of hanga prints in the world. Her expertise in the art form sharpened.


They began to collect, building on the significant collection already started by Bill’s dad. “It resonates with us,” Mary says of the Japanese prints. “We have it in our home. We had to have several cartography drawers built because we have over a thousand.”


In 2008, Phoenix Art Museum hosted “Making Waves: Contemporary Japanese Prints,” an exhibition of selected prints from their collection.


A visit to Cambodia with MicroCredit Enterprises


Today, retired from Accenture, Bill is a part-time pro bono executive with MicroCredit Enterprises, which now supports more than 70,000 loans in 12 countries. He also serves on various business and community boards.




The family has a home in Deer Valley, in Park City, Utah, but they often ski at Powder Mountain, a ski resort they own and call the “happiest investment they’ve ever made.” Powder Mountain is reported to have the best powder in the U.S., and from the top, skiers can see Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The property is 9,000 acres, and with 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, it is also North America’s largest ski resort.


In the Valley, both Bill and Mary are actively involved with Phoenix Art Museum. Bill is the current board chairman, and Mary has served on the board of the Contemporary Forum and the Asian Arts Council. She also has become one of the leading hanga experts in the nation, lecturing numerous times at Arizona State University, in their home and to docents at Phoenix Art Museum. “There aren’t too many people in the U.S. who can speak with authority on the subject of Japanese contemporary prints,” Bill says.


“Directing the Tokyo show over the years, you meet the artists and visit in their homes,” Mary says.


Proceeds from the Nov. 5 gala support the museum’s education and outreach programs.

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