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2019 Arts Awards Winners

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana held its 34th annual Northeast Louisiana Arts Awards at 7:00 p.m. March 7 at the Vantage Health Plan, Inc. Banquet Room. Origin Bank sponsored the event.
The Edmund Williamson Visual Artist of the Year Award went to the visual artist Drek Davis, nominated by the Twin City Art Foundation/ Masur Museum and presented by last year’s winner, Emj Cruz. He received a stained-glass sculpture made by local artist Bruce Fleming. Jason Byron Nelson, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance, was the second nominee for this category.

The Edmund Williamson Performing Artist of the Year Award was also presented by Emj Cruz. Joe Istre, nominated by the Twin City Ballet Company, was the winner! He received a lidded-banded, raku jar made by local artist Wayne Horton. Runner up and second nominee was Colette Boutwell, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet.

Performing artist Margaret Ann Zentner won the Dorothy Bassett Emerging Artist Award, presented by Arts Council board member Chris Hyde. She was nominated by the Monroe Symphony Orchestra. Zentner received a stained-glass sculpture by local artist Bruce Fleming, as well as a $1,000 cash prize to further her professional career as a performing artist. Other Dorothy Bassett Emerging Artist Award nominees were Krislynne Flowers of the Twin City Ballet, Christina Gray of the Strauss Theatre Center, and Katenlyn Vaughan, nominated by Downtown Arts Alliance.

Arts Council Board Chair Ashley K. West announced the nominees of Volunteer of the Year Award. Daphanie Dailey of The Princess Theatre won, and she received a handmade wooden bowl by local artisan Audie Maxey. Other nominees included:
• Amanda Roe, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance
• Mike Gibbons, nominated by the Strauss Theatre Center
• Jorenda Stone, nominated by the Monroe Symphony League
• Diane Howard, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet
• Marsha Powell, nominated by the Twin City Ballet

Patti Nelson, Origin Bank senior vice president of retail banking and past Arts Council board chair, presented the BART Award. The BART Award, or Business Art Award, recognizes the importance of corporate participation in stabilizing and expanding the arts.
Flying Tiger Brewery, nominated by the Downtown Arts Alliance, took home the BART Award and the lidded raku jar prize made by local artist Gary Ratcliff. Other 2019 BART nominees were:
• Marion State Bank, nominated by the Louisiana Delta Ballet
• Bennett Seymour Insurance, nominated by the Twin City Arts Foundation/ Masur Museum

Spring Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series Lineup Announced

Northeast Louisiana Arts Council Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series

The Northeast Louisiana Arts Council will host its free Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series each Wednesday at noon in April at the Anna Gray Noe Park in downtown Monroe between St. Francis Medical Center and the courthouse. Performances include:

April 3 – Jordan and Stacy Sheppard
Husband and wife duo Jordan and Stacey Sheppard have been playing all over the southeast since 2008. Inspired by many different artists and genres, their sound is a blend of country, soul, blues, and rock ‘n roll. They have both been nominated multiple times for local music awards, and today you’ll see why! Come on down and catch today’s Series launch.

April 10 – Mason Granade
A long-time Series favorite, Mason has been performing for over thirty years and is a regular at such diverse venues as regional cafes and night spots and as Worship Leader at Bethel Baptist Church in West Monroe. If your playlist includes Eagles, America, and the Beatles, Mason’s your guy! You may also have heard his popular album recorded with Matthews-Granade on the radio or in R-Squared movies, “New Hope” and “Flag of My Father,” where he even had a cameo! Sneak a listen online at www.masongranade.com, then join us for this rocking spin to the Series!

April 17 – Mike McKenzie
An opener for Tim McGraw, T Graham Brown, and Bryan White will rock out our Series with his own unique style. Mike McKenzie is one of the busiest performers in the region, something he’s been doing since he was a kid, playing everyone’s favorite country, classic rock, and funk. Mike’s appearances are always fun and entertaining, and we’re excited to continue the Series with this local legend!

April 24 – Rod Payne and Lisa Spann
The Series ends strong with two local fan (and Series) favorites — Rod Payne and Lisa Spann. Rod is one of our area’s most visible musicians! He’s kept generations on the dance floor with show tunes, old standards, easy listening, and more. He’s excited to be joined today by frequent partner Lisa Spann, whose talent as a vocalist makes every performance fresh and fun. What a great way to wrap up the Series and help spring forward into the new season!

About the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana seeks to nurture a vibrant regional arts culture through support, promotion and education. The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana strives to be a transformative force for the community by encouraging a passion for the arts, promoting partnerships and collaboration, and ensuring access to the arts for all.

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Office of Cultural Development Division of the Arts Percent for Art Program Call to Artists

CALL TO ARTISTS –
Human Development Center, Louisiana State University
Site-Specific Installation
TOTAL BUDGET: $200,000 – $240,000 (see call for details)
The Percent for Art Program is seeking artists or artist teams to submit proposals for the design and implementation of a safe, child-friendly enclosure/partition to be installed at a playground (along Tulane Avenue) on the grounds of the LSU Human Development Center located in New Orleans, LA. Deadline : March 1, 2019

https://crt.state.la.us/cultural-development/arts/percent-for-art/call-to-artists/index

Meet the Artist: Linda Lavender Ford

No matter who they are, every person in Northeast Louisiana can immediately recognize the name Linda Lavender. When I heard that name, I thought of the all the flashy Twin City Ballet recitals I have attended, the iconic Ballet Under the Stars performances in Kiroli Park, and of course the famous Christmas Gala plays I went to every year of elementary school; to sum it all up, I thought of extravagance and the biggest arts powerhouse in our area. However, I realized when I was presented with that name, I thought of literally everything other than an actual individual, and that made me start to think. The name just felt like an unattainable and unidentifiable person; why did everyone know the name Linda Lavender but they did not know Linda Lavender?

As it is the last week of my summer internship for the Northeast Arts Council, my final assignment was to “write about whatever I wanted to and to have fun with it.” Not to mention, I was also finally given the approval to write in first person. I racked my brain for an underrated event I have always wanted to share about or an influential artist I’ve always wanted to know more about, and then it came to me: Linda Lavender.

I emailed a couple questions to Linda with the mindset she would never reply; where would an unbelievably successful local celebrity find the time to type out lengthy answers for a teenage intern? And then I got an email informing me Linda Lavender Ford wanted to have a phone interview with me. With my heart pounding out of my chest, I grabbed my phone and dialed her number. I expected to have a speedy five minute Q and A where I read off the questions and she rapidly gave her answers, but I ended up having a lengthy heartfelt conversation which I will remember for the rest of my life:

So now, what do I think of when I hear the name Linda Lavender Ford?

I think of a small girl who was born in Mississippi and grew up in West Monroe- a little girl who was from a very poor family with a mother who was a factory worker and a father who was a mechanic. That little girl’s parents made sure they could give their daughter the best training in the best dance studio available. When the little girl grew up to be a teenager, she was discovered and was invited to become a dancer and hostess for the KNOE television show, Happiness Exchange.

I picture a stubborn teenager telling her mother she didn’t want to teach dance when she graduated high school because she was going to school in New York City to be a performer, even though her family could not afford to send her to the dance academy. However, when that recent West Monroe High School graduate began to teach dance, she knew it was her calling.

I see a young woman who built Linda Lavender School of Dance from the ground up and founded the Twin City Ballet Company. That company is now an honor member of Regional Dance America and has four directors and three season performances. In addition, it gives dancers the opportunities for scholarships and the ability to further their dance careers.

I hear a woman, who has taught dance for 57 years, asking me about myself and telling me how she is proud of me for aspiring to be an arts educator one day. I hear her giving me the advice to make every effort to bring the best I can to my students and to continually keep my mind open to learning.

Most importantly, I know a strong and driven woman who recognizes the talent every individual possesses and who utilizes art to allow them to see the worth in themselves. She is a kindhearted and humble woman who pays respect not to herself, but to the power of the arts and to divine intervention.

“I still say that this area is especially gifted with talent. I always say I can’t imagine a child not getting to dance. I just feel like it’s a terrible mistake when they do not get to because I know what it has meant to me and what it means to so many people.” -Linda Lavender Ford

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Arts Council awarded grant to record oral history of Don Cincone

Don Cincone

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities awarded a $5,000 Rebirth grant to the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana to record an oral history of local artist Don Cincone.

The project’s goal is to locate and document all known Cincone works in an online database, and to document Cincone speaking about his works and the inspiration behind them. The project will also support public programming where Louisiana residents can view Cincone’s artwork and interact with the artist.

The first public programming event is An Evening with Don Cincone from 6-8 p.m. November 13 at the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens. Former journalist and current art curator Kay LaFrance-Knight will interview Cincone about four paintings featured in the Biedenharn’s Images of Christ exhibit. Admission is free, but an RSVP is required as space is limited. Guests may call the Biedenharn to reserve their seats.

“I’m lucky I get to view Don’s artwork every day at our office,” said Barry C. Stevens, Arts Council president. “Don is not only a talented painter, but he is one of northeast Louisiana’s treasures. I’m so glad the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is recognizing his contributions to our state’s arts and culture.”

Cincone was born Don Wills in a sharecropper’s home in Alto, La. in 1936. Denied access to study at Northeast Louisiana University due to segregation, he attended Southern University, joined the Navy, toured Europe and studied the Masters in the great museums and cathedrals while on break. After his service, he moved to California and worked with an art dealer who “renamed” him Don Cincone for marketing purposes. His work was used in the Dick Van Dyke film The Art of Love (in which he was not credited), and his work is featured in personal collections and museums around the nation. He has influenced dozens of young artists in the region, and is revered as a painter, minister, and veteran.

Other public programming activities include a grand re-opening reception of the Arts Council’s collection, a biographic exhibit opening at the Northeast Louisiana Delta African-American Heritage Museum, a screening of The Art of Love during the 2019 Northeast Louisiana Summer Film Series, and an interview focusing on his military service at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum.

These programs are funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The opinions expressed in the programs do not necessarily represent the views of either the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana seeks to nurture a vibrant regional arts culture through support, promotion and education. The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana strives to be a transformative force for the community by encouraging a passion for the arts, promoting partnerships and collaboration, and ensuring access to the arts for all. Activities of the Arts Council are supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.

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Ouachita River inspires artists at Brew on the Bridge

Beginning in the mountains in Arkansas, the Ouachita River meanders through Louisiana’s delta into the Mighty Mississippi. In the parish that shares its name, the Ouachita River cuts between the cities of Monroe and West Monroe. Many residents view the river as a divider between the two communities, but the Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana and local artists are working to change that mindset. The Ouachita River is not a divider, but a unifying factor connecting people together.

Brew on the Bridge literally bridged the gap between the two towns on Endom Bridge spanning the Ouachita River on October 13. As part of the North Delta Food & Wine Festival, Brew on the Bridge is a family-friendly party with craft beer, makers, artisans, and live music.

This year, the Arts Council added the element of live paintings, with local artists participating in “Paint the Ouachita.” The finished works from Paint the Ouachita will travel around the region as part of an exhibit as part of Year of the River 2019, a bicentennial celebration of the first steamboat trip up the Ouachita River, changing the economy and livelihood of residents.

Liz Zanca at Brew on the Bridge

 

Monroe mayor representative Rod Washington and West Monroe Mayor Staci Albritton Mitchell participated in a cook-off at Brew on the Bridge. Blind panelists tasted both dishes, and declared Mayor Mitchell the winner. As a trophy, the Arts Council asked local artist Kyle Snellenberger to create a piece representative of the river. He donated his finished mixed media piece to the Arts Council to loan each year to the winning mayor.

Snellenberger, who owns Ouachita Antique Woods, fused together two pieces of Sinker Cypress wood found from the Ouachita River to represent the cities of Monroe and West Monroe. He then added art resin to emulate the river. Mayor Mitchell will hang the artwork in West Monroe City Hall until the next cook-off.

Kyle Snellenberger

 

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19 arts organizations benefit from Arts Council’s first Lunch & Learn

Lunch & Learn

The Arts Council of Northeast Louisiana’s first ever Lunch & Learn benefited 19 arts organizations and 26 individuals on September 6. The Lunch & Learn series is part of the Arts Council’s arts entrepreneurial training program, which equips artists and arts organizations with business skills to assist with professional development.

Danielle Kelley Tolbird, Arts Council community development coordinator, led a presentation called PR 101. Attendees learned how to write a press release, how to segment audiences, and how to approach journalists.

Future Lunch & Learn topics include approaching museums and galleries, and income and sales taxes. To be the first to RSVP to Lunch & Learn, be sure to sign up for the Arts Council e-newsletter here.

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