Monday, March 7, 2011

Weird and Wonderful; Viola Awards

NAU represents.  Me and Michael Vincent, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

I went to a lot of cultural events this week.  On Tuesday, I decided it was "fine-culture appreciation day" for my 14-year-old, so we went to the College of Arts and Letters Film Series's screening of the ever-classic "The Big Lebowski".  On Wednesday, I went to Danny Lyon's rambling talk about his striking photography of convicts, motorcycle gangs and the Civil Right Movement, sponsored by the School of Communication.  On Friday I was at First Friday and got to see Darcy Falk's beautiful new exhibit at West of the Moon Gallery.

But my favorite event was the 3rd Annual Viola Awards Banquet on Saturday, a gala event honoring Flagstaff's artists, musicians, and cultural leaders. (A full list of winners is on the Flagstaff Cultural Partners website.)

Some of my favorite things.  Jason Hasenbank from Flagstaff Photography Center.

I loved it because everyone dressed up to the nines.  I saw most of my favorite people in Flagstaff.  I got to celebrate all the honorees, and all the hard work they do to put on events, create works of art, and making music.  And I also got to talk to many, many people about planning for even more exciting things for the Flagstaff arts scene.

Basically, I felt like part of one big, happy, creative and playful family!

That's one of the great parts of Flagstaff arts, is that people feel connected to one another.  We promote each other's events, we collaborate, we share many of the same audiences.  And most importantly, we all help each other out. Once you get a bunch of Flagstaff artist types together, the ideas will start flowing like wine.

As honoree, Anne Doyle who organizes the Hopi Festival and the Museum of Northern Arizona said, "It takes a village to raise a festival!" 

The Flagstaff cultural leaders work HARD at achieving their goals, too.  Bruce Aiken, winner of the Visual Arts Award, said "for every painting, there's a pool of sweat".  I admire the energy of this town.

John Running and Laura Kelly, Executive Director of Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra.

And finally, we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful geographical setting, one that inspires all of us to create our own beauty.  John Running, winner of the Mayor's Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Arts, said "I give thanks to the muse of 'place'."

Me too.

I loved what Matt Lehrman from had to say about it in his blog, "Upwords."  At the Viola Awards "everyone took home a very tangible connection to their being part a large, weird & wonderful collection of people who ARE the vibrancy of Flagstaff’s arts & cultural community."

And I think that's a pretty special thing, something that isn't apparent in other, bigger cities.  What a weird, wonderful world we are!

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