ArtsQuest Foundation Names Second Annual Linny Award Recipients


Awards recognize creativity and support of the arts in the region

The ArtsQuest Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the second annual Linny Awards. Named after the late Marlene ‘Linny’ Fowler of Bethlehem, the multidisciplinary awards honor Fowler’s dedication to and support of the arts, while celebrating the extraordinary artists, arts educators, businesses and philanthropists who live and work in the Greater Lehigh Valley. All recipients will be presented with their awards during the 2017 Linny Awards Nov. 9, 6 p.m., at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.

The 2017 Linny Award winners are:


Emil Lukas, Stockertown – Visual Artist of the Year
This award is for two- and three-dimensional visual arts, as well as designers of fashion, musical instruments, furniture and other handcrafted works. Lukas is a process-oriented artist who describes his works as a cross between painting and sculpture. He is perhaps best known for his “thread paintings,” which are shallow wooden trays over which he crisscrosses thread to create complex, glowing color fields. Lukas has exhibited in shows and museums across the country and around the world including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California.


Walt Groller, Whitehall – Performing Artist of the Year
This award recognizes a Lehigh Valley performing artist whose work symbolizes excellence in his or her field. An accomplished accordion player and band leader, Groller has been providing entertainment in the Lehigh Valley and beyond more than seven decades. He was inducted into the International Polka Hall of Fame in 1986, received a Grammy nomination in 1988 and has been a regular at Musikfest since 1984.

Harry C. Trexler Trust – Philanthropy in the Arts Award
This award recognizes an individual, family or foundation that has made a major commitment to supporting multiple arts and cultural organizations or programs in the region. The Trexler Trust’s mandate is to improve the quality of life for citizens in Lehigh County. In 2016, the trust provided grants to regional bands and orchestras, public and private art schools, local theaters and arts festivals.


Alexandra Pobiedzinski, Allentown – Emerging Artist of the Year
This award honors an artist age 30 or younger, who is up-and-coming and/or has had a breakthrough year. Pobiedzinski is an active performer, choreographer, teaching artist and executive director of the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange (LVDE). With LVDE she created and manages the Dance Exposure at SteelStacks and the SpringUp Dance Festival, which is the only professional dance festival in the Lehigh Valley. Her award-winning choreography has been featured at festivals in Philadelphia and New York City.

Martin Guitar, Nazareth – Excellence in Product Design
This award honors a Lehigh Valley-based business or corporation for the quality, innovation and creativity of its goods and products. C.F. Martin & Company produces what are considered the finest acoustic guitars in the world, prized for their optimum selection of tonewoods, as well as their consistent attention to handcrafted detail. Professional and amateur musicians in every musical genre use Martin guitars. Among those who have owned and played Martins are Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry and Willie Nelson.


Richard Shemonsky – Arts Educator of the Year
This award honors a Lehigh Valley-based educator, teaching artist or arts administrator who has made a profound impact on students and/or the community through his or her work in the arts. Affectionately known as “Shu,” Shemonsky has been an arts educator for 42 years and is currently head of Parkland High School’s Visual Arts Department. He has an exceptional skill for finding the unique talent in his students and then helping them advance in both their education and life.


Bria Pickel, Allentown – Student Artist Scholarship Award
This $2,500 award goes to a high school junior or senior planning to pursue a career in arts administration. Pickel, a 2017 graduate of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, is described as “standing out in a school of exceptional students.” Her work is a mix of oil, watercolor, pencil and collage, with a focus on the repetitive patterns in line and shape within the subject matter. Pickel plans to study painting and fine arts, and museum and gallery practices, at Pratt Institute in New York in the fall.

Two area businesses will also receive Supporter of the Arts Awards. They are:

Connexions Gallery, Easton – Small Business Supporter of the Arts 
Connexions is the oldest running art gallery in the Lehigh Valley. Along with showing the works of local artists and artisans, the gallery is renowned for offering free improvisational jazz and funk performances.

Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Bethlehem – Large Business Supporter of the Arts
Lafayette Ambassador Bank believes that it is crucial to give back to the community in ways that align with its core mission. It has generously supported ArtsQuest, as well as other arts organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley.

“We are very fortunate to have such an extraordinary array of highly talented artists in the Lehigh Valley; however, it made this year’s selection process very difficult,” says Jeffrey Parks, Executive Director of the ArtsQuest Foundation. “It was also a challenge to select the recipients of our business and philanthropy honors because of the creativity and generosity of so many in our region. We are extremely grateful to all those who continue to support the arts here, and we look forward to honoring all of our 2017 Linny Awards winners this November at SteelStacks.”

Linny Award nominations were submitted for artists, organizations and businesses in Lehigh, Northampton, Upper Bucks and Upper Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania, and Warren County in New Jersey. Members of the 2017 Linny Awards Selection Committee included:

Paul Farr, 2016 Linny Award Winner for Philanthropy in the Arts
Denise Parker, Northeast Middle School Teacher and 2016 Linny Award Winner for Arts Educator
Ashley Russo, Executive Producer, The Peak TV
Lissette Santana, Sr. Manager, Corporate Relations, PPL
Ricardo Viera, Professor of Art and Director-Curator, Lehigh University Art Galleries
Claire Lukas, Arts Educator and Artist
Neil Wetzel, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies, Moravian College
Dave Lobach, President, Embassy Bank
Dick Boak, Director, Museum Archives and Special Projects, C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.

The ArtsQuest Foundation Board previously selected three distinguished individuals from the region for their longtime commitment and dedication to the arts.

Steve Coleman, Allentown – Lifetime Achievement Artist Award 
A nationally acclaimed saxophone player, Coleman has been called “the linear heir to the instrument’s greats, like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.” In 2000 he received the Herb Alpert Award, and more recently he received one of America’s most prestigious awards, a MacArthur Fellowship. When he is not on tour, Coleman and his band offer free workshops and performances in low-income areas in the U.S. and abroad.

Dolores Laputka of Allentown – Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Award
For nearly two decades Laputka has been involved with community and arts organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley. She currently serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Allentown Art Museum and has served as chairperson of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, assisting that organization in weathering the impact of the worldwide financial crisis.

Daniel Dae Kim – Pinnacle of the Arts Award
A graduate of Freedom High School, Kim is perhaps best known for his role as Chin Ho Kelly on the 2010 reboot of the classic TV show “Hawaii Five-0,” and as Jin Soo Kwon in the TV series “Lost.” He also played the King of Siam in Rogers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” in London and on Broadway. Kim has received an AZN Asian Excellence Award, a Multicultural Prism Award and a Vanguard Award from the Korean American Coalition, all for Outstanding Performance by an Actor.

All proceeds from the 2017 Linny Awards event will support the nonprofit ArtsQuest Foundation, established in 2002 by Fowler. For more information on the ArtsQuest Foundation, please visit For sponsorship opportunities and ticket information, contact Lauren Stoy at and 610-297-7301.

*not all award winners may attend the event