By Carl Schafer and Erin Williams—
MUNCIE, Ind.—The Muncie Arts and Culture Council, in conjunction with the City of Muncie, celebrated the 4th biennial Mayor’s Arts Awards on Friday, Nov. 12, at Sursa Performance Hall on the Ball State University campus.
If you missed the ceremony, it will be broadcast on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. on Ball State PBS. More information at www.ballstatepbs.org.
The Mayor’s Arts Awards are the most prestigious honors given by the city to individual artists, teachers, non-profit organizations, and patrons of the arts. The selection is made by the Awards Committee, a rotating cohort of members from Muncie’s arts, education, business, and public service sectors, as well as a regional arts representative. The Mayor’s Arts Awards are presented in eight distinct categories: Arts Advocate, Arts Leader, Arts Educator, Corporate Arts, Artist in the Community, Next Generation Artist, Maker, and Lifetime Achievement. This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 25 nominations made by the community.
The ceremony opened with members of the Muncie Central High School Band parading the nominees into the auditorium to be introduced by emcees Laura Williamson of Muncie Civic Theatre and Michelle Kinsey of Ball State PBS and Indiana Public Radio. Dr. Stephen Price performed Pomp and Circumstance on Sursa’s concert pipe organ, followed by a welcome address by Dr. Seth Beckman, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Ball State University, the event’s host and Presenting Sponsor.
Speaking about the role of the arts during the Covid pandemic, Muncie Arts and Culture Council Executive Director Erin Williams said, “I have never been more proud to be part of a discipline that takes on the task of providing joy, solace, and release, usually for free, to anyone that needs it, at any time of the day or night.” Her remarks were followed by a performance of Peace, Love, and Dance, which was the result of a collaboration between MuncieArts’ PlySpace Resident Indya Childs and the Ball State Department of Theatre and Dance.
All photos above by Cat + Matt Creative
Mayor Dan Ridenour addressed the audience, highlighting the many arts institutions with long and established histories that are now integral to Muncie’s identity. He noted with pride that over 300,000 people attend events at our arts institutions each year and that many of those attending are from outside Delaware County.
Other performances during the ceremony included a preview of Elf the Musical! that will be on Muncie Civic Theatre’s Mainstage during the winter season, excerpts from the Nutcracker performed by Muncie Ballet Studio, which is celebrating its 30th year, and two selections performed by the Ball State University Chamber Vocal Ensemble, Sound In the Room.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the award recipients by Dave Franklin, President of the Muncie Arts and Culture Council.
The Award Recipients are:
Artist in the Community: Moth Danner
Moth’s love for Muncie and open arms approach to the arts nurtures a vibrancy and inclusiveness to the Muncie art scene. She has been a mentor to many individuals who now own Muncie businesses, sits on cultural boards, and volunteers throughout our community. Moth is the founder and director of the Muncie Makers Market which brings fresh produce, artisan foods, and handmade arts and crafts to Muncie. The Market has helped many fledgling artists, crafters, and creators gain the confidence to become entrepreneurs. Moth is committed to providing inclusive places in which artists from all skill levels can be nurtured, mentored, and appreciated.
Arts Advocate: Debra Gindhart Dragoo
Debra has been a lifelong arts advocate and educator, and most importantly, a role model for people of all ages who desire to express themselves through art. Her passionate commitment to serving the local community as the Curator/Coordinator for the artists at Madjax Muncie, her innumerable community philanthropic endeavors, combined with her ability to advertise and advocate for these artists in a fun, effective, and far-reaching way have made her an absolutely essential, irreplaceable part of our arts community.
Arts Educator: David Johnson
David is an artist and educator and has exhibited woodcuts and intaglio prints regionally and nationally since 1984. As an instructor of drawing and printmaking at Ball State University, David taught thousands of students drawing and printmaking. He has been a docent at Ball State’s Owsley Museum where he was able to share his expertise on specific subject matters. He has many prints and artist’s books in private and public collections such as Harvard University Art Museum and Santa Barbara Museum of Art. David remains as productive in retirement continuing to hone his craft – keeping printmaking methods from the 1500s on the forefront of fine arts.
Arts Leader: Minnetrista
Minnetrista’s campus offers the gamut of cultural experiences, such as art and history exhibits; theatrical and music performances; botanical, horticultural experiences; a farmers’ market; and childhood fantasies with their Faeries Sprites and Lights event. It is also the location for many of Muncie’s traditions such as the Enchanted Luminaria Walk and the Flags of Honor. All of this is done in a collaborative setting that invites Muncie’s other cultural institutions, schools, and groups to use their facilities. During the pandemic, Minnetrista took a leadership role in supporting the mental and physical health of people in Muncie as well as the vibrancy of the city itself. They have opened their campus implementing a wealth of new thoughtful programs that continue to provide many of their beloved experiences in new and safer ways.
Corporate Arts: Classroom Connections of ECI
Classroom Connections of East Central Indiana works diligently with businesses and corporations to acquire new classroom supply donations, and support programs that capture surplus product donations to prevent waste. These products serve educators across the region by tangibly providing what it takes to grow young artists and give them the “stuff” of artmaking. By saving money on essential supplies, teachers are able to expand their projects and provide even more creative opportunities for students by offering specialized supplies that make projects shine.
Maker: Morgan Roddy, Owner of Queer Chocolatier
Morgan started her chocolate-making business as a way of creating a space for those who were feeling marginalized, concerned, and seeking a safe place to be themselves. Alongside her wife, Cheri Madewell, she founded Queer Chocolatier, intending be unapologetic about it. While her products give a magical sensory experience, Morgan’s business has a lot bigger impact. As one of the very few bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers in Indiana, Morgan takes pride in the fact that her products have unique tastes of various flavors and stories. The Queer Chocolatier has also held fundraisers to support gender confirmation surgery and Planned Parenthood, and served as a space for food drive donations, clothing donations, meeting space for underserved organizations, voter registration drives, and art exhibitions.
Next Generation Artist: Jaylyn Graham
Jaylyn’s artistic impact in the Muncie community begins with his reflections on identity, social justice, and culture through his body of work titled The Black Experience: Exploring Culture and Racial Identity in a Fragmented Society. Jaylyn uses his art to spread knowledge and inform the Ball State and Muncie community about Black racial identity, injustice, and many other sociopolitical issues in American society. Jaylyn wants everyone to remember how important it is to advocate for change in our communities and society. These are principles that Jaylyn not only displays in his art, but those he also embodies outside of his art through his leadership and selfless contributions.
Lifetime Achievement: Genny and Brian Gordy
In 1989 Genny and Brian founded Gordy Fine Art and Framing as a center and magnet for all things art-related in Muncie. They hosted First Thursday events where established artists and fledgling student artists showed their work. They were true art supporters, sending out announcements of events such as demonstrations and artists’ talks. Genny and Brian were a team and although they no longer own the business, it remains a respected gallery and framing shop. In addition, Art Mart, the art store that the Gordys established, is still thriving in the BSU village. “Let’s meet at Gordy’s,” is frequently heard on First Thursdays. Gordy Fine Art and Framing is the beating heart of the downtown Muncie art scene because Genny and Brian Gordy worked tirelessly to champion Muncie as an arts and cultural venue for so many years.
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners who were celebrated at this year’s ceremony!
The 2021 Mayor’s Arts Awards are made possible through support from the Muncie Arts and Culture Council, the City of Muncie; Presenting Sponsor— Ball State University College of Fine Arts; Nominee Reception Sponsor— First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors; Community Reception Sponsor— Raymond James; and Award Sponsors Pridemark Construction, Ball State PBS, Cat+Matt Creative, The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Old National Bank, Gordy Fine Arts and Framing, Meridian Health Services, and the City of Muncie. MuncieArts would also like to thank all of the volunteers, committee members, individual sponsors, members, partnering institutions, and lovers of the arts who have made this program successful and have spurred excellence in the Muncie arts community.
Learn more about Muncie Arts & Culture Council at www.munciearts.org
Related article below with all nominees.