HCOA annual meeting presents arts awards

At the Homer Council on the Arts annual meeting, art lovers get a special treat: a reprise showing of the late Gaye Wolfe’s 2011 portrait show, “Human Tapestry,” an exhibit of portraits Wolfe did before she died in 2012. Wolfe’s show featured paintings of artists, musicians, teachers and cultural leaders. Wolfe donated her portraits to HCOA with the intent that they be sold to support arts council programs.

The exhibit kicks-off a six-week silent auction of Wolfe’s portraits. The annual meeting starts at 6 p.m. Friday at the HCOA offices on West Pioneer Avenue.

Sale of the Wolfe portraits supports HCOA’s remodel and expansion project. That includes construction of a 2,000-square-foot, 50-foot wide yurt to be used for programs like performance, dance and circus arts. The remodel also will improve bathrooms and classroom space and add a third rental unit. HCOA also plans to remodel its basement for studio space, Paver said.

“It’s an incredible collection that shows where we’ve been. It was such a generous thing she did to donate them to us,” said HCOA director Peggy Paver of the Wolfe portraits.

But the big deal will be presentation of HCOA’s Annual Arts Awards. Receiving awards are:

• Arts Education: Lisa Shallock. Musician and teacher Lisa Shallock began directing the Homer Youth Orchestra in 2006, and under her leadership helped the group grow. A cellist, she plays for the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra and has performed with her family at contra dances, the Farmers Market and other events. Upon her retirment the Lisa Shallock String Camp Scholarship was set up to honor her work. She continues to teach private lessons.

• Artist of the Year: Dana Stabenow. Born in Anchorage and raised in Seldovia, science fiction, mystery and thriller writer Dana Stabenow has written 33 novels, including her recent “Less than a Treason,” the 21st in her Kate Shugak mystery series. Stabenow has a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She founded Storyknife, a retreat for women writers that had its first resident last fall. When finished, Storyknife will have six cabins and a main house.

• Youth Artist of the Year: Chloe Pleznac. A musician, performer, writer and youth advocate, Pleznac started writing songs when she was just 2-years-old. She has been an active participant in HCOA events since she was a small child. When she was 14 years old she formed a girl band called Officeboy. In addition to her passion for music, Pleznac has worked as a peer educator at Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic’s Youth Enrichment and the R.E.C Room, advocating for Homer youth. Chloe is a member of the Homer High School Drama, Debate and Forenics team and Swing Choir and is involved in Alaska Youth for Environmental Action.

• Arts Leadership/Advocacy: Harbor School of Music. In 2003 Joel and Tia Pietsch founded Harbor School of Music. For the past 13 years Harbor School of Music has offered comprehensive music and dance education in Homer. With their guidance the school is committed to providing students with the skills necessary to enjoy music and dance in some capacity for a lifetime. The school has grown to include lessons in piano, violin, guitar, ballet, hip hop, lyrical dance, ukulele, percussion, flute, voice and music theory.

• Arts Lifetime Achievement: Annette Bellamy. Halibut Cove artist Annette Bellamy’s art represents ideas and an aesthetic of her lifestyle. She has commercially fished for 38 years, long lining for halibut and seining and gillnetting for salmon. Bellamy has had exhibitions in Homer, Juneau, Anchorage, Massachusetts, Kenai, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Fairbanks, to name a few. She has lectured, taught and done residencies in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, the Lower Kuskokwim School District and in Halibut Cove. She was responsible for presenting nationally and internationally known ceramic artists for intensive workshops including artist demonstrations, participant working time, group discussions and evening slide presentations as Creative Director for Halibut Cove Workshops from 1988 – 2015. Her awards have included the Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award, the Pratt Museum Juror’s Choice Award in 1991, 1993, 1995, 2002, and the Bunnell Street Gallery Juror’s Choice in 2001.

• Business Arts Patron: Homer Ocean Charters. Homer Ocean Charters has been locally owned and operated since 1979. Owners Roark Brown and Diane Borgman have contributed to the Homer community in many ways. Borgman served on the Homer Chamber of Commerce board and Brown served on the Alaska Travel Industry Board for many years. Under their leadership Homer Ocean Charters has made generous donations to HCOA, including a yearly raffle fundraiser for a Getaway to Otter Cove Resort. Brown’s daughter has performed numerous times in Jubilee! While he is busy most of the time running and maintaining boats he is a strong supporter of the arts. Borgman has served on the HCOA board for more than 20 years. She has spent countless hours supporting HCOA, has served as president, artistic director for Jubilee!, a member of the Annual Arts Award Committee, the Programs Committee, the Hiring Committee and other volunteer roles. In addition to supporting the arts in Homer, Homer Ocean Charters has supported Hospice, the Special Olympics, Homer Senior Center, Kachemak Bay Water Trail, Haven House, the Harbor School of Music and other local non-profit organizations.

• Volunteer of the Year: Lynn Spence. Lynn Spence is a past HCOA Board member and a current member of the HCOA Advisory Board. She has served HCOA in many capacities, volunteering her time and energy in a tireless fashion. She has been the visionary and idea person for HCOA coming up with new and novel ways to promote HCOA, the arts and raise money for the organization. Spence served as the treasurer, as a member of the Finance Committee and Programs Committee for many years. She has been active in the planning of the HCOA expansion project. She was house manager for many HCOA events including Jubilee, served on the tech crew, sold tickets, baked goodies, trained ushers, and opened her home and kitchen to the performers coming to town for HCOA. Her dedication to the Nutcracker Faire has been instrumental in the Faire’s success where she volunteers to run a booth and help wherever she is needed. In addition to her commitment to HCOA Lynn has volunteered for many years for Pier I Theatre. Lynn has always been there when needed – she doesn’t say no she just keeps on giving. Even though she is no longer on the HCOA board she is visible in the office on a weekly basis and continues to volunteer to support HCOA projects. Lynn and her husband Hal are also generous donors and members of HCOA.

The annual meeting also will mark another passage, the retirement of long-time board members Diane Borgman and Kathy Pate. Borgman and Pate will be moving from an active to an advisory role as members of a new HCOA committee, the HCOA Advisory Board.

“They can essentially hold the container of history about the organization,” Paver said. “It’s so important, especially with me being new.”

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