ArtsQuest Foundation Holds Inaugural Linny Awards

Awards recognize creativity and support of the arts in the region

Sporting a bow tie fashioned of steel, Jeffrey Parks, executive director of ArtsQuest Foundation, was among the presenters at the inaugural Linny Awards ceremony, which celebrated the artists, arts educators and philanthropists who live and work in the Lehigh Valley. The event honored the late Marlene “Linny” Fowler, a lifelong, avid supporter of the arts.

Parks presented the top Linny of the night, Pinnacle of the Arts, to Oscar-, BAFTA- and Tony-award-winning costume designer Ann Roth of Lower Mount Bethel. Roth, 85, has created costumes for more than 150 major motion pictures, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “Mamma Mia!” and most recently “The Girl on the Train,” and she has done costuming for dozens of hit Broadway shows. “I feel like I’m in the middle of a rebirth, of a community erupting in the arts,” Roth said upon receiving the award.

Most agree that rebirth began in large part because of Mrs. Fowler, a stained glass artist who was a major donor to the Banana Factory and helped ensure that all Lehigh Valley children have access to classes there, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. It was fitting then that Linny’s widower, Beall, presented the first award of the evening, Philanthropy in the Arts. “Linny frequently quoted the Gospel of Luke: ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’ Her philosophy was guided by that principle,” he explained.

The recipient of the award was Paul Farr, of Center Valley, who along with his wife Kym, has been a generous supporter of ArtsQuest Foundation. In his acceptance speech, Farr said he has seen firsthand the great impact that ArtsQuest Foundation has had on the community. “I believe everyone has an obligation to give what they can,” he said. “That may be leadership, creativity, vision or financial gifts.”

One of those who have given all of his life is Joe Brake, of Bethlehem, who received the Lifetime Achievement Volunteer award. Brake has spent his entire life volunteering for Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt and ArtsQuest, as well as a number of other arts organizations in the Lehigh Valley.

And three area businesses were honored for their support of the arts in the Lehigh Valley: Concannon Miller, Embassy Bank and Air Products.

While the evening was a tribute to those who support the arts, it was also about the artists themselves. A recurring theme was that the Lehigh Valley is fortunate to be home to so many extremely talented artists. Among them are Steve Tobin, of Quakertown, who received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award. His metal and glass sculptures are in museums and galleries around the world, and he is perhaps best known for his post-9-11 sculpture near Ground Zero, titled “Trinity Roots.” Visual Artist of the Year awardee Vicki Da Silva, of Allentown, has had her light graffiti photography displayed in New York’s Times Square, London’s Trafalgar Square and in galleries across the country. And Performing Artist of the Year Craig Thatcher has traveled around the globe to present his unique blend of blues and rock, often bridging what he calls the “culture gap” by teaming up with musicians in other countries.

Two of the regions upcoming, young artists were honored, as well. Jordie Werner, of Bethlehem, who is a talented videographer, received the Penn State LV Scholarship award, and Jeremy Gipson, of Orefield, a visual and performing artist and winner of ArtsQuest’s 2016 Pop Art Billboard contest, received the Emerging Artist of the Year award. Realizing the importance of teaching the next generation of artists, the Foundation awarded Denise Parker, of Quakertown, the Arts Educator of the Year award. Parker, beloved by students and peers alike, is the musical and choral director at Northeast Middle School.

In celebrating the industrial heritage of the Lehigh Valley, the Foundation recognized a business for quality, innovation and creativity in its products or goods. Knoll, Inc. of East Greenville, which has partnered with some of the most prestigious industrial designers in the world to produce their iconic furniture, received the Excellence in Design award.

All 13 award recipients received a beautiful, hand-blown statuette, specially designed and crafted by artisans in the Banana Factory glass studio.

Sponsors of the awards were: Cornerstone Advisors; Mike and Lynn Albarell; Service Electric TV; John and Brenda McGlade; Talen Energy; Mike Perucci; AirProducts; Tom Riddle; B. Braun; Embassy Bank; and Coca Cola Bottling Co. of the Lehigh Valley.

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