ELKO –Traditional art, performance art, and art supporters were honored at the fifth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, presented on Dec. 5 by the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Council.
Dee Burton, Sue Kennedy, Don Newman and Yong Pratt were the recipients of the Mayor’s Arts Awards for their contributions to the arts in Elko.
This year, artist Tam Foree was selected by the council to create hand-painted awards designed personally for each recipient.
Mayor Chris Johnson congratulated the winners at the start of the ceremony and remembered when the idea was first presented to him to recognize contributors to Elko’s art community five years ago.
“It made me recognize how much I already value art and didn’t know it,” Johnson said, whose term as mayor concludes at the end of the year, “because there’s so many things we take for granted …. It is part of what we look at and we don’t realize what it is.”
“It’s been very, very fun to be a part of this,” Johnson added.
Burton was recognized in the individual artist category for her “true artistic passion ... helping other artists find their own voice with paint.”
Volunteering her skills to teach others, Burton organizes the Cork and Canvas fundraiser for the Carlin Library, and donates her artwork to raise money for organizations, including the Carlin Volunteer Fire Department and the Elko POW/MIA.
“No artist ever gets here on her own and there’s many artists that have helped me along the way,” Burton said as she accepted her award. “Without a community that supports artists, this would never happen. It is important for me to pass that along to other artists and encourage them.
Honored for her work with art education, Pratt, a native of Elko, opened the Elko Academy of the Arts, a dance and music studio for children. She has published a book and website that encourages children’s creativity and entrepreneurship, and has a podcast that discusses topics for empowering children.
“I’m so happy to help kids on their paths to becoming superheroes,” Pratt said.
The Elko County Fair Home Arts division was selected for the honor of arts organization for its annual contribution to local arts in “facilitate[ing] an enormous exhibit during the Elko County Fair every Labor Day weekend.”
The fair board was the official recipient of the award, with Sue Kennedy receiving appreciation and credit for the success of the home arts exhibits for the past 20 years.
“In just a few days and with a very small budget the exhibit is put together to showcase our county’s most talented artists,” Johnson said.
Kennedy, who retired as supervisor this year, thanked previous home arts superintendent Dawn Leyva, volunteers and exhibitors for their contributions that keep the home arts a thriving part of the fair.
“It would be nothing without all of these people,” Kennedy said. “This is really not about me. This is about the community coming together to create something beautiful for a hundred years.”
Newman, who is retiring as executive director of the Elko Convention Center and Visitors Authority in March, received the service to the arts award.
In the 13 years he was director, he “was a constant proponent and cheerleader for the arts” throughout the community by promoting art culture centers including the California Trail Interpretive Center, Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum, Northeastern Nevada Museum and Western Folklife Center.
Newman in particular “has been a big proponent of public art,” Johnson said. “Don was always ready and eager to help with financial support through the ECVA with public art projects, including the Centennial Boot project, the water tank mural and many others.”
“Art is a very important piece of any community,” Newman said as he accepted his award. “Art and tourism are hand-in-hand, so you’ve got to have both of those to be successful.”
Newman also praised the Elko area for its continued support of the arts and hinted at more art projects that are in the works.
“I’m very proud that this community has accepted its role in the art world and we’re seeing these effects,” Newman said. “This community is very fortunate, so hopefully we move forward and add some more pieces and projects along the way.”