ANNUAL LINNY AWARDS Honoring community giving
ArtsQuest’s fourth annual Linny Awards got off to a rousing start with the announcement that in 2019 the ArtsQuest Foundation received a $5 million anonymous gift, the largest in the nonprofit’s history. The announcement was made by foundation CEO Jane George, who added that there were also two anonymous $1 million donations to the endowment.
George said that because of the community’s generosity this year, 6,000 students enjoyed field trips and performance at the Banana Factory and SteelStacks, while more than 772 educational classes and programs were held, with 97 percent of them free of charge.
There were also new and expanded community programs, according to George, that brought more than 2 million people to Bethlehem from 45 states and 35 countries.
After the CEO’s remarks, Linny Awards were presented in 11 categories, including volunteerism, philanthropy, visual arts, musical performance and education.
Heading up the winners was Carol Guzy, who won the Pinnacle of the Arts Award for her work as a news photographer covering political turmoil and disaster all over the world. She has won four Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other journalist. The focus of her work is to document the hope and compassion that exist during times of crisis.
Guzy won her first Pulitzer in 1986 covering the mudslides in Columbia, and her fourth in 2011 for documenting the Haitian earthquake. Guzy has been named Photographer of the Year eight times by the White House News Photographers Association, and three times by the National Press Photographers Association.
The Visual Artist of the Year is Kim Hogan, who creates her award-winning mosaic art in her studio on the third floor of the Banana Factory. Educated at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, her work is in private collections, including St. Luke’s University Health Network, Lehigh Valley Hospital and the Sigal Museum in Easton.
An article in “Style” magazine by Steve Piccione a few years ago described Hogan’s art as “a frictionless combination of fantasy, nature and modernity. Her exquisite, joyful compositions convey a childlike wonder and sophistication that seduces and inspires viewers of all ages.
Hogan is currently teaching healing arts workshops to family members affected by cancer.
On the music front, Grammy-nominated musician Alex Meixner was named Performer of the Year for his work that symbolizes excellence in its field. Classically trained, but noted for his versatility in various music genres, Meixner is renowned for his advocacy of polka music and teaching of the cultural connections among various ethnic music and instruments.
Meixner’s mother taught him to play the accordion, and he made his stage debut at age six. He and his band have played in most of the major festivals and fairs in the country, including Musikfest. He is co-founder of Pennsylvania’s Music Preservation Society, and spearheads the annual Great Pennsylvania Music Arts Celebration at the Allentown Fairgrounds on Memorial Day Weekend.
The Linny Committees’ Choice Award went this year to Ricardo Viera, for his lifetime promotion of the arts. Director and chief curator of Lehigh University’s Art Gallery Museum for 45 years, he established a visual laboratory and teaching collection program, as well as a nationally recognized collection of Latino and Latin American photography and video.
A noted lecturer, portfolio reviewer and government consultant for arts and cultural agencies, Viera recently retired to Miami.
The Arts Educator of the Year is Amy Putlock, who for the past eight years has been vocal and general music teacher, choir director and theater co-director at Bethlehem’s Broughal MS. Before her regular teaching day begins, she directs the Broughal Choir and Southside singers. After her classes, Putlock stays after school to work with the student theater and dance troupe.
A husband and wife team received the Philanthropy in the Arts Award. Robert and Cindy Oster were recognized for their ongoing service with multiple community organizations. When Robert Oster was CEO of Concannon Miller he made community involvement a company-wide priority. After his retirement, he dedicated himself to serving as president of the Minsi Trail Boy Scouts of America, as a board member of the St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Northampton Community College Foundation.
Cindy Oster has been a long-term Musikfest volunteer, and an active member of the Junior League of the Lehigh Valley, as well as a number of other community projects.
The Lifetime Achievement Award in Volunteerism went to St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Associate Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations David Yanoshik.
A lifelong valley resident, Yanoshik has been active in many community organizations, including ArtsQuest, The United Way, Discover Lehigh Valley and the Weller Health Education Center.
In 2015, he received the Weller Center’s Outstanding Friend to Kids Award.
Just Born Quality Confections was recognized as the Business Supporter of the Arts for its long years of support of the arts through grants, product donations, encouragement of employee volunteerism and service on local boards and committees. Among the programs it supports are those that make the arts more accessible and inclusive, such as the SATORI music and arts program in Bethlehem area schools.
The Emerging Artist of the Year award went to Arturo Cabrera, whose portraits are meant to capture the subtle nuances of what it means to be human. A 2012 graduate of the Charter School for the Arts in Bethlehem, he had a solo exhibition entitled “Humanism II” last Fall at the Dacia Gallery in New York City.
Cabrera’s paintings[, which incorporate gold, silver and copper leaf representing an aspect of humanity,] are featured in private collections in both America and Europe.
The $2,500 Student Scholarship Award, went to LS School graduate Fatima Montero, who currently is majoring in illustration at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Montero hopes to become a children’s book illustrator.
ArtsQuest announced a new $1,000 annual scholarship award funded by a $25,000 donation from friends of the late John DiFrancesca. The scholarship goes to a student in the ArtSmart program to support students interested in attending summer arts camps or advanced arts classes.
This year’s scholarship recipient is 12-year-old Broughal Middle School student Serene Canty. She has been in the ArtSmart progam since 2018, and wants eventually to earn her living drawing anime, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from or associated with Japan.