Alive! Awards praise artists and patrons



11.13.05 Kerry Clawson

Rep. Tim Ryan, Bruce and Lola Rothmann, Mark Soppeland among those recognized

Participating in and supporting the arts is not only fun and rewarding, but also spurs the Akron-area economy, celebrators stressed Saturday evening at the Akron Area Arts Alliance’s Arts Alive! Awards.

“The economic development experts call us the creative industry,” said Jessie Raynor, director of the alliance.

That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles:”It’s very important for us not to cut the arts because that’s the very engine that is leading economic development in the United States of America.”

Ryan, honored with a government leadership award, received an A+ in the first Congressional Arts Report Card issued by Americans for the Arts Action Fund. He was among 220 guests at AAAA’s third biennial event at the Radisson Hotel Akron City Centre.

The evening began with special awards for lifetime achievement, bestowed upon both arts patrons Bruce and Lola Rothmann and artist/educator Mark Soppeland.

The Rothmanns have supported the arts for more than 60 years, giving their time, talents and financial support to Tuesday Musical Association, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Children’s Concert Society, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Akron Chamber Ballet (now Ohio Ballet), Music at Stan Hywet and, most recently, Music from the Western Reserve.

Soppeland, who has taught for 30 years at the University of Akron, is a painter, sculptor, illustrator, craftsman and designer. His work has been exhibited in more than 350 exhibitions on four continents.

Other Arts Alive! winners were:

• Outstanding visual artist — Joan Colbert. The 2001 First Night button designer is an organizer of the Art in the Square festivals, secretary of Artists of Rubber City, an Akron Area Arts Alliance member and Summit ArtSpace gallery volunteer.

• Outstanding volunteer — Mary Ann Jackson. She has dedicated more than 35 years to arts and cultural organizations, including co-founding the Akron Area Arts Alliance in 1991. Her work ranges from chairing the Civic Theatre board to serving as the inaugural executive director for Akron’s First Night.

• Outstanding patrons — Fred and Laura Bidwell. The couple are passionate supporters of the visual arts, including the Akron Art Museum, Emily Davis Gallery at UA, Cleveland Museum of Art, MOCA and Summit ArtSpace.

• Outstanding artist in dance — Kathryn Mihelick. She founded Leaven Dance Company in 1992. She has challenged the Vatican to recognize the validity of liturgical dance as an appropriate form of worship.

• Outreach award — Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet. R.O.A.D., founded by Lori Klinger in 2002, provides free dance experiences for 650 at-risk fourth- and fifth-graders in Akron, Wooster and Cuyahoga Falls.

• Outstanding artist in theater — Jim Fippin. In his sixth season as resident director of Coach House Theatre, the thespian oversees all aspects of production in the 93-seat theater.

• Outstanding business support — Omnova Solutions Foundation. For years, the foundation has funded concerts, museums and exhibitions, dance performances, theater productions and arts education.

• Collaborative project award — Arts Lift, The University of Akron Myers School of Art. A bequest by the late Lola Isroff created this urban arts education program that provides scholarships for underprivileged, artistically gifted high school students in the Akron Public Schools.

• Outstanding arts educator — Sally Schneider. The Firestone High School director of choirs has instilled in her students a love of choral music and respect for music as an art form during her 24 years with Akron Public Schools. Ensembles under her direction include Madrigal Singers, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Men’s Choir, Intermediate Choir, Women’s Choir and Symphonic Choir.

• Outstanding artist in music — Tucker Jolly. He’ll conduct his 26th TubaChristmas this year, a holiday tradition he started in 1980. A professor of tuba and euphonium, Tucker is a tubist with the Akron Symphony.

Rising young star/artist — Elizabeth Remmel (now Scott). The 25-year-old graphic artist is founder and creative director of IMMIX Studio and art director for Rubber City Clothing Co.

• Rising young star/leadership — Elizabeth Quirk Sheeler. As founder of ArtCetera, Sheeler brought young professionals together to experience arts and culture in the Akron area

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