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2017 Media Releases

March 10, 2017
For More Information Contact:
Lori McAlister, Lincoln Arts Council, 402-434-2787

Winners Announced for Mayor's Arts Awards

Mayor Chris Beutler and the Lincoln Arts Council (LAC) have announced the winners of the 2017 Mayor's Arts Awards to be presented Wednesday, June 7 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The theme for this year's event, which is open to the public, is "Wizard of Arts." The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and includes a dinner, awards presentation and winners' reception. Reservation and sponsorship information will be available April 10 at Event sponsors are Talent Plus, Inc. and Farmers Mutual of Nebraska. This year's honorees are:

Outstanding Arts Organization: Since the early 1990s, Angels Theatre Company has nurtured and celebrated theatre artists locally and statewide by touring quality productions and by establishing an artistic home for local playwrights with its Play Writing Collective and the annual First Flight Festivals. Sponsor: Art and Chris Zygielbaum

Artistic Achievement Award - Visual Arts: Ceramic artist Amy Smith, who works mainly in porcelain, had her work exhibited around the country and has been featured in national magazines. She has a studio in Lincoln and has taught at UNL and the Lux Center for the Arts for about 15 years. Sponsor: Joe and Judye Ruffo

Artistic Achievement Award - Youth: Southeast Senior Jonah Kelly is the principal trumpet player in the Lincoln Youth Symphony and also performs with The Plymouth Brass and the Young Lions All-Star Band as well as school's wind and jazz ensembles and marching band. Sponsor: Annette and Jerry Hall

Artistic Achievement Award - Performing Arts: Over three decades, Actor Richard Nielsen has performed with many local theatres, including Flatwater Shakespeare, the Haymarket Theatre, the Lincoln Community Playhouse, OmniArts Nebraska and the Crooked Codpiece Company. Sponsor: Betsy and Bill Strain

Artistic Achievement Award - Literary Arts: Rex Walton is a published poet and writing workshop presenter and arts promoter, who is well known as an organizer of poetry, writing and music events at local coffee houses. Sponsor: Commercial Investment Properties

Gladys Lux Education Award: Textile and apparel artist Dr. Robert Hillestad is a Professor Emeritus at UNL, where he taught for 31 years. His work has been shown internationally, and UNL's Textile Gallery is named in his honor. Endowed by the Gladys Lux Foundation

The Legacy of the Arts Award: Robert Hall founded the Flatwater Shakespeare Company and is the former Director of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. The actor, director, producer and teacher is also a visual artist, whose career includes work for Marvel Comics. Sponsor: Legacy Retirement Communities

Heart of the Arts Award: After retiring as Director of the Community Mental Health Center, Dean Settle opened the Metro Gallery, which features "outsider" art. He helped form Artists on the Edge and the Writer's Wordshop for those experiencing mental health or substance use issues. Sponsor: Runza® National

The ArtScene Backstage Award: Brad Buffum is Production Stage Manager for the University Theatre/Nebraska Repertory Theatre at UNL's Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. The teacher and mentor is involved with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which presented its highest honor to him in 2012. Sponsor: Avery Woods

Outstanding Event Award: As part of its three-year "Bridges" initiative, Hildegard Center for the Arts commissioned "Standing Bear - A Ponca Indian Cantata" by Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, an Emmy Award winning Chickasaw classical composer. The premiere at the Lied Center was live-streamed worldwide. Sponsor: Kathy and Marc LeBaron

Benefactor of the Arts Award: Painter, photographer and businessman Phil Perry has contributed to the Sheldon Museum of Art, the Department of Art and Art History at UNL and CenterPointe. He is on the MEDICI Board and the Sheldon Art Association Board of Trustees. Sponsor: Pinnacle Bank

Lincoln Community Foundation Arts for Kids Award: Kevin Clark, Clark Architects Collaborative 3, was the primary underwriter for the spring 2016 Art Makes Me SmART photography project with Lincoln High. Clark also spent time with students lending his professional expertise and equipment and providing a behind-the-scenes look at his masterpiece, St. Thomas Aquinas Church. He continues to collaborate with classroom teachers to enhance student opportunities. Sponsor: Lincoln Community Foundation.

Mayor's Choice Award: "Puddin' and the Grumble" by Becky Boesen and David von Kampen and the Grumble Project drew attention to hunger and poverty issues in the community through an original musical produced by the Lied Center in collaboration with the Food Bank of Lincoln and presented by the Lincoln Community Foundation. Sponsor: Cline, Williams, Wright, Johnson & Oldfather LLP

Enersen Urban Design Award: The Urban Design Committee selected the "P" Street District Improvements in downtown Lincoln. Sponsor: The Clark Enersen Partners

The event will also honor the recipients of Kimmel Foundation Emerging Artist Awards, which will be announced soon. The awards include $1,000 stipends and residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. The awards are sponsored by the Richard P. Kimmel and Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation.

Tickets are $75 and are available from the LAC at 402-434-2787 or Corporate tables and sponsorship opportunities are also available. The winners' reception after the program will be on the outdoor Arena deck and will be $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

The awards presented to the winners are being created by Christian Scott, who was featured as an Emerging Artist at LAC's Lincoln Arts Festival in 2016. Festival judges presented him with the "Best of Nebraska" award.

The emcee will be DeWayne Taylor, a UNL student, public speaker, actor and beatboxer. "D-Wayne" was featured in the award-winning production of "Puddin' and the Grumble." His website is

The public is encouraged to submit names and photos of members of the Lincoln arts community who have died since the last awards ceremony in June 2016 for memorial recognition at the awards event. Information can be sent to

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