Congratulations to the 2017 Arts Award recipients. The Arts Award has been presented since 1976 to recognize individuals and organizations whose vision, commitment, and leadership have enriched the cultural life of Westchester, its communities and its citizens. Here are this year’s honorees:
The Emily & Eugene Grant Arts Patron Award
Lucille Werlinich of Purchase is an avid supporter of the quality of life in Westchester, especially when it comes to the arts and education. As Chair of the Purchase College Foundation, she works tirelessly to support this stellar institution, which is preeminent in dance, music, visual arts and theater. The importance of the arts and of education for all were values of her late parents, Joseph and Sophia Abeles, a family tradition which continues. In recognition of her mother’s dedication to arts education, Lucille established an award that is given annually by ArtsWestchester to a deserving leader in the field. As a longtime member of the Westchester Community College Foundation, Lucille actively participates in the college’s Scholarship Committee. She also serves ex-officio on the Friends Board of the Neuberger Museum of Art and the Performing Arts Center Foundation.
Arts Organization Award
Downtown Music at Grace (DTM), provides an oasis of art and culture amidst the bustling downtown of the City of White Plains, especially with its noonday concerts. The nonprofit organization’s roster of artists features talented and well-regarded professional musicians who enjoy performing in the intimate and historic setting of Grace Church. Concerts range from half-hour respites on Wednesday afternoons (“Noonday Getaway” concerts) to full-length weekend performances (“Weekend Discoveries”). The organization also produces a series of concerts that are specially designed for schoolchildren in grades K-12 and its “Concerts on Tour” brings more than 30 concerts per year to nursing homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
WESTHAB began in 1981 as a program that would provide temporary housing to the County’s most economically disadvantaged populations. As the agency grew over the span of 35 years, it has become the largest nonprofit provider of both affordable housing and supportive services in Westchester County. Starting in 2004, those supportive services began to include arts programs in their homeless shelters. Partnering with ArtsWestchester, WESTHAB has provided arts enrichment programs and artist residencies for thousands of individuals and families, successfully winning an NEA award. Through art-making projects, WESTHAB has engaged youngsters in afterschool programs in Yonkers and Mt. Vernon, offering a safe environment for children of all ages to explore their imaginations.
The Katonah Museum of Art’s Himmel Award and Lecture is an annual event in recognition of nationally-known creators, conceivers, radical thinkers and risk-takers who provoke new thinking in the arts and design. Lectures by these global leaders engage the museum’s community in a dialogue about the impact of visual arts in contemporary society. The Award, now in its sixth year, is named in honor of arts advocate Betty Himmel, who has been – and continues to be – instrumental in defining the museum’s direction and mission. The event attracts 200 attendees each year, including students whose tickets are underwritten by Himmel and other generous donors. Past honorees include art critic and curator Robert Storr; Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; artist and architect Maya Lin; renowned international artist Christo; fashion icon André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine; and, most recently, Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor.
The Sophia Abeles Education Award
Marion Archer is an extraordinarily talented Westchester-based teaching artist and a founder of The Revelators Dance Troupe (RDT). The group has evolved from a spiritually-based dance troupe to one that now offers instruction in a variety of dance forms, including African, tap and traditional dances from various countries and cultures. Marion actively honed her dancing skills with the Boys and Girls Club of Mt. Vernon, which later became the home base for her dance troupe. As her career has advanced, Marion has worked with several Westchester schools to bring music and dance into students’ curriculum. In one of her recent artist residencies at Yonkers School 30, she engaged 200 students to better understand their social studies curriculums through dance and movement related to important African American figures in U.S. history.
Songcatchers, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable and accessible musical programs to the multicultural populations of New Rochelle and its neighboring communities. The organization, founded by Sr. Beth Dowd, OSU in 1994, consists of choral arts, afterschool music and early childhood music programs. These community-wide activities nurture arts education and foster civic awareness, engagement and pride for the participants and their families. With a variety of musical arrangements presented throughout the year – from beginners and established musicians; vocalists and instrumentalists; children and senior citizens; soloists and ensembles – Songcatchers, Inc. has become a vital resource in the community connecting and engaging its diverse residents.
The Scarsdale Adult School offers an outstanding and unique enrichment curriculum for lifelong learning. Established in 1938, the independent, nonprofit organization provides day and evening courses that are open to adults throughout the year, regardless of whether or not they live in Scarsdale. The arts are strongly represented among the school’s wide array of intellectually stimulating, recreational and skill-enhancing courses and lectures. Included in its arts-friendly offerings are skill development classes, such as writing and photography; recreation, including dance lessons; and humanities courses in subjects like Architecture and Art Appreciation. Keeping convenience and accessibility in mind, Scarsdale Adult School’s classes take place at nearly twenty locations throughout lower Westchester County.
A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.