Mayor Don Wesely, in cooperation with the Lincoln Arts Council, has named the recipients of the 2001 Mayor's Arts Awards. The public is invited to the awards luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, at the Windsor Stables Reception Centre, 1024 "L" Street. Reservations are $25, and the registration deadline has been extended to May 31.
"This is an outstanding opportunity to recognize those whose contributions to the arts make this city a great place to live," said Mayor Wesely. "Because of their efforts, the arts are thriving in our Capital City."
The Halcyon Allsman Benefactor of the Year Award will be given for the first time to Carl (Ky) and Jane Rohman. The honor recognizes the late Allsman's sustained financial support of the arts over her lifetime and is sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank.
Retired Nebraska Wesleyan University teachers Phyllis and Henry Blanke will receive the Leadership Award, which recognizes the recipients' major overall impact on the arts in Lincoln. It is sponsored by Talent +.
Lincoln Benefit Life Company will receive the Support of the Arts Award. This award recognizes the significant financial support for the arts by a business and is sponsored by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
Musician Deah Harriott will receive the Cultural Celebration Award for artistic work which has fostered an appreciation of a specific culture or cultures. It is sponsored by Valentino's.
Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman, an illustrator and author of children's books, will receive the Literary Heritage Award. It recognizes a writer who promotes excellence in writing in Nebraska and is sponsored by the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association.
The Sinclair Hille and Associates Building and the Wyuka Cemetery Entrance will receive the Larry Enersen Urban Design Awards, sponsored by The Clark Enersen Partners.
Actress and television personality Leta Powell Drake will receive the Sam Davidson Award for excellence in theatre arts, sponsored by Patsy Davidson.
UNL Art Professor James Eisentrager will receive the Helen Haggie Artistic Achievement Award, which recognizes professional accomplishment in any arts discipline. It is sponsored by Kate Ellison.
Kit Voorhees, founder and director of the Arts Are Basic program, will receive the Gladys Lux Education Award. It recognizes special initiatives in or dedication to arts education and is sponsored by the Gladys Lux Foundation
Leo Hill will receive the Heart of the Arts Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer dedication to the arts. He has been active in the Lincoln Symphony, the UNL School of Music and the Lincoln Community Playhouse. The award is sponsored by Runza Restaurants.
Jazz in June will be recognized as the Event of the Year. The concert series will celebrate its tenth season this year and is organized by the Nebraska Art Association. The award is sponsored by A & R Fine Arts Framing.
Judges for the 2000 Mayor's Arts Awards were William Griffin, 2000 recipient of the Heart of the Arts Award; Dan Ladely, Director of the Ross Film Theatre; Bob Rook, Director of the Star City Dinner Theatre; Tom Sheppard, Art Instructor at the LPS Arts and Humanities Focus School; the Urban Design Committee; and the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association.
(More information on award recipients and photos available on request.)
Carl (Ky) and Jane Rohman
Halcyon Allsman Benefactor of the Arts Award
The Rohmans share a passion for opera and have contributed significantly to Opera Omaha, the Metropolitan Auditions of Nebraska and the growing UNL opera program. Ky has enabled both the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney to expand the scope of their collections. Jane has been instrumental in supporting this summer's inaugural Meadowlark Music Festival, an opportunity to experience classical music in a casual picnic setting. In addition, the Rohmans have impacted nearly every major arts organization and event with contributions of both time and money
Phyllis and Henry Blanke
The Blankes have made an impact in the lives of hundreds of students in their teaching careers at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Now retired after more than 35 years of service to NWU, they are also well known for founding the Brownville Village Theatre. Henry is a native of Geneva, Nebraska and a graduate of Doane College and UNL. Before coming to Lincoln, he taught in Superior, Nebraska and at Tarkio College and Indiana University. As Director of Theatre at NWU for 30 years, Henry directed 296 plays. In 1999, he was awarded the Kennedy Center Medallion of Excellence from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. In 2000, the UNL Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts presented him with its Outstanding Achievement Award.
Phyllis Chard Blanke graduated from Superior High School and Cottey College and received her BA and MA degrees from UNL. She taught at UNL, Tarkio College and NWU. Serving as costumer and business manager, she also acted in numerous Brownville productions. At NWU, she taught costume and makeup design and created costumes for all major theatre productions. She retired from theatre in 1997 after suffering a brain aneurysm. She was awarded the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital Chairman's Goal Award for Outstanding Patient.
Lincoln Benefit Life Company
Support of the Arts Award
Lincoln Benefit Life is dedicated to the continued reinvestment of time and financial support to the Lincoln community. In partnership with its employees, the company is committed to embracing a variety of local and national charitable organizations through volunteerism and financial support. One of its key focus areas for corporate giving and sponsorship is the arts, with loyal support of a wide range of Lincoln arts organizations and events over many years. Lincoln Benefit Life was the major sponsor for the city's first Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration. Recent support also includes contributions to the Lincoln Community Playhouse, the Lincoln Symphony, the Lincoln Children's Museum, the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra and the Lincoln Municipal Band. Founded in 1938, Lincoln Benefit Life has more than 100,000 licensed independent agents and over 700 employees. The company's sponsorship of arts organizations and events is a tribute to the dedication of its employees in helping Lincoln Benefit Life become one of Lincoln's leading companies.
Cultural Celebration Award
Deah Harriott is the arranger, composer and director of the vocal group "Images" and is a founding member of and accompanist for the Lincoln Community Gospel Choir. A graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University with a music education degree, she was the lead in its production of "The Wiz." She has her own piano studio and is Minister of Music for Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman
Literary Heritage Award
Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman's ornate, fanciful renderings have graced children's books for more than 30 years. Ruth is a native of Denton, Nebraska and a graduate of the UNL with a degree in Fine Arts. She was an abstract expressionist painter, and her works were exhibited at the prestigious Whitney and Brooklyn Museums in New York and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery. She and her husband lived in New York and Connecticut for most of their lives. Ruth overcame a childhood spent in a body cast brought on by osteomyelitis to become a successful artist, illustrator and author of children's books. Her work was earned her a selection in the Society of Illustrators and consideration for the prestigious Caldicott Award. In 1999, she received an Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in Art from the UNL College of Fine and Performing Arts. She is also a supporter of the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association and the Heritage Room at the Bennet Martin Public Library.
Sinclair Hille and Associates Building
and Wyuka Cemetery Entrance
Larry Enersen Urban Design Awards
The Urban Design Committee selected the new offices of Sinclair Hille and Associates at 700 "Q" Street as the winner in the "private project" category. The building is the growing architectural firm's third home in the historic Haymarket District, but it is the firm's new construction of its own design. The firm needed a "signature" building that also fit well into its setting. Although the building site was just outside the zoning limits of the Haymarket Landmark District, the firm voluntarily submitted its design to the Historic Preservation Commission for review and advice. The entire firm contributed to the design which draws elements from its industrial surroundings including the red brickwork, curved roof, exposed steel trusses and large-scale windows. The building is strikingly modern, but a good historic district neighbor.
The Lincoln Urban Design Committee selected Wyuka Cemetery in the "public project" category. The award recognizes the renewal of the "O" Street entrance area of the cemetery. New features include a gateway, administration building and funeral home, a scenic bridge and a restored pond, complete with swans. The historic O Street fence was repainted in an appropriate dark green color. For safety, a sidewalk was added along the length of the "O" Street frontage. The projects were carried out under the leadership of Wyuka Cemetery Trustees Bob Kuzelka, Vera Mae Lutz and Cathie Petsch, and CEO Mike Hutchinson. The designers were architects J. Stuart Todd, Inc. of Dallas and Jim Dyck of The Architectural Partnership of Lincoln, in collaboration with landscape architect Kim Todd, ASLA.
Leta Powell Drake
Sam Davidson Award
Leta Powell Drake has been a presence in local television, theatre arts and human service organizations since moving to Lincoln from Duluth, Minnesota 40 years ago. She has an MA and Ph.D in Theatre Arts and Speech Communication from UNL. Her 28 years at KOLN-KGIN TV included positions as writer, producer, on-air host, Program Director, Public Affairs Director and Director of Children's Programming. She is currently Network Program Manager for Nebraska Educational Television. Leta has acted in over 100 plays in professional and community theatre as well as two films and has received many acting awards. She has served on the Boards of the Lincoln Community Playhouse, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the University of Nebraska Alumni Association, the College of Fine and Performing Arts and Theatre Arts for Youth.
Helen Haggie Artistic Achievement Award
Professor James Eisentrager began his career at UNL in 1961 and has been one of the Art Department's most esteemed artists and educators. His award-winning artwork combines the mathematical and creative elements of color, shape and design to produce geometric expressions. Recognized through extensive and varied exhibitions, his work can be seen in the collections of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney. He retired from UNL in 1996 and was recently honored for his achievements in the naming of the new UNL Richards Hall gallery space.
Gladys Lux Education Award
Kit Voorhees is the director and founder of the Arts Are Basic program. She began teaching in Pennsylvania at a pioneer school for special education, founded her own piano studio and developed her belief in aesthetic education. After moving to Nebraska, she acquired a BME and MM and taught music and elementary education majors. As Adjunct Associate Professor at Doane College-Lincoln since 1983, Voorhees created a fine arts block from a single aesthetics course. She spent three years with the UNL Performance Series developing an education and outreach program, followed by a similar position at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Arts Are Basic, founded in 1989, began at the Lied Center and was moved in 1992 to the newly formed College of Fine and Performing Arts. That same year, the program was awarded the Creative and Innovative Award of Merit by the North American Association of Summer Sessions. Affiliated with the Lincoln Center in New York, the Arts Are Basic program is a member of the International Association of Institutes for Aesthetic Education, and Voorhees has been a member of the Board of Directors since 1992.
Heart of the Arts Award
Leo Hill was president of the Lincoln Symphony for three years and has narrated musical works for the Symphony, the University of Nebraska and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He currently serves on the foundation board of the Symphony. As a patron of the UNL School of Music, he provides an annual student scholarship and has presented the school with a harp, which is also used by the Symphony. Hill also served as president of the former Broadway Theater League in Lincoln and was on the Lincoln Community Playhouse for six years. He nurtured LCP from its inception in the lobby of the formal Lindel Hotel to the bath house at Muni Pool and the Synagogue at 18th and "L." He contributed the mainstage for the current playhouse and has appeared in more than 10 productions. He now volunteers as an usher at the Lied Center, a poetry reader to LPS students and a reading mentor for Head Start.
Jazz in June
Event of the Year Award
The Nebraska Art Association organizes the annual Jazz in June concert series, which will celebrate its tenth season this year. The number of people attending these free concerts outside the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery has grown from a few hundred the first year to several thousand in 2000. The local and regional musicians who perform provide audience with a diverse mix of quality jazz. The City of Lincoln, the Downtown Lincoln Association and UNL are also offering a farmers market that includes local artists in connection with Jazz in June.