Characters from the storybook are once again the highlight of Abilene’s artistic lunch
The almost annual Celebrate the Arts Luncheon offered a bit of novelty and familiarity at high noon on Wednesday.
First, there was an event. Lunch last year did not take place due to the pandemic. Getting together and, according to Kaye Price-Hawkins, member of the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, “seeing so many smiling faces” was a cause for celebration.
“Let’s applaud each other,” she said.
Upon his return, the event was back downtown but for the first time at 201 Mesquite Event Center.
Finally, storybook characters once again stole the show.
Dancing to the disco era hit “We Are Family” – but failed to get emcee Theron Holladay to the boogie too – Winnie the Bear, Doris the Boar, Lighthouse (yes, a walking lighthouse, far from the ocean) and a raven were a highlight of the awards program that introduced the arts to Abilene.
All are characters from books illustrated and written by Australian Sophie Blackall. She will be the first woman to be shown at the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival, which includes an exhibition of the winner’s work at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.
The next CALF will take place from June 9 to 11.
The appearance of a dancing crow was perfect as Justin Crowe received the individual Outstanding Art Award. He’s been Chairman of the Board of Cultural Affairs and a member of the board since 2014, painted steel for Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden, and precisely guided his supersoaker during singer Joe McDermott’s performances at CALF.
Crowe applauded artists and art supporters for their adaptability during “two strange years.” Sometimes, he said, plans had to turn 180 degrees to work.
“Kudos to those in the room who were able to do it,” he said.
Unlike Mr. Crowe, the costumed crow did not wear a bow tie.
The organization’s award went to the Excelsior Foundation, which in seven years has had a great impact on local arts organizations.
“It is truly an honor,” said Leah Doty, executive director of the foundation. Excelsior moved to Abilene from Midland.
“It really is a blessing to be here,” she said.
Doty was laughed at when he described his foundation as “sneaking up as an arts organization”.
In addition, 18 organizations presented their volunteer winners. Each has been introduced.
The event also serves to increase membership in HeARTS for the Arts, which over the years has injected $ 650,000 into the local arts scene.
Lunch is also a kind of preview of the next CALF, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2022.
Already sculptor Steve Neves is working on the next outdoor work which will be one of 37 in the Capital of Texas Storybook. The most recent works are a 3D mural titled “Flight of the Dragon” – it can be found in the tunnel under the railroad tracks just south of the T&P depot – and a kinetic sculpture titled “In Cloud Light IV” in the garden from the Abilene storybook. Convention center six blocks north.
Neves is also working on a limestone sculpture by Sandman from the imagination of William Joyce. Soon it will signal the entrance to the downtown arts districts and the SoDA.
To work on the two-ton piece of stone, Neves said he would need an angle grinder, hammers and chisels. No problem. He is also adept at carving with a chainsaw.
CALF President Glenda Young said her family lived in Abilene from 2006 to 2009, before there was a summer event downtown.
Upon their return, they discovered that CALF is “something we just do in Abilene”.
In addition to the 10th anniversary plans, there will be a performance of “Ivy and Bean” in the children’s performing arts series on Friday and Saturday nights of the event.
Additionally, there will be readings from each of the 10 featured author-illustrators to celebrate a decade of storybook fun.
So expect Winnie and the other Blackall characters to make personal appearances in town over the next seven months.
Get your boogie shoes ready, Theron Holladay.
Greg Jaklewicz is editor-in-chief of the Abilene Reporter-News and general columnist. If you enjoy local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
And the winners are:
Here are the 2021 Abilene Art Award winners:
Tim Adcock, Abilene Community Group
Dr Jami Adams, Abilene Community Theater
Amy McAdams, Abilene Education Foundation
Naomi Wood, Abilene Performing Arts Company
Todd Wilson, Abilene Philharmonic Association
Pat Nelson, Abilene Star Chorus
Kay Talley, Abilene Writers Guild
Dr Christopher McNair, Zoological Society of Abilene
Nicole Wiedemann, Celebration Singers
Michael Derrick, Center for Contemporary Art
Sharon Kelley, Debbie Langford and Nancy Wilkinson, Children’s Art and Literacy Festival
Jill Bertsch, Children’s Performing Arts Series
Tim & Pam Smith, Abilene Choir
Dr Tim Lillick, Friends of the Abilene Public Library
Carol Walt, The Grace Museum
Belinda Southall, Abilene Junior League
Erica Hall, National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature
Dr Kim Hardin, Young Audience of Abilene
Outstanding Individual of the Year: Justin Crowe
Exceptional organization of the year: The Excelsior Foundation