ELKO – The fifth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards paid tribute to artists and organizations actively contributing to Elko’s transformation into an arts town.
Mayor Reece Keener handed out awards in four categories Wednesday night, praising the accomplishments of the recipients and the city’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board.
“I think [art] enriches us as a community,” Keener said. “It’s something that can drive tourism. It can be a catalyst for redevelopment areas.
“So I say, let’s have more art. I’m fully on board and support what you guys are doing. Thank you for everything you’ve done thus far. I know that it’s only the beginning and I want to be your biggest cheerleader.”
Started in 2015, the Mayor’s Arts Awards honor individual artists, arts organizations, arts educators and service to the arts.
“Art Spot Reno recently gave one of the largest and most unselfish gifts to the Elko community, the Elko Mural Expo,” said Keener as he introduced the organization honored for Service to the Arts.
Geralda Miller, executive director of Art Spot, accepted the award, telling the audience “Elko is on the map for its art.”
She said Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall and one of the founders of Burning Man responded favorably to the massive project that involved about 40 local, regional and international artists painting 56 walls in downtown Elko last month.
“Let the arts be a driver and definitely [let Elko] be an arts destination,” Miller said. “Keep it up. We’re excited. I’m excited to see what else happens in beautiful Elko.”
The award for Arts Organization was bestowed on the California Trail Interpretative Center. In addition to celebrating the pioneers who settled in Nevada, California and Oregon, the Trail Center also exhibits art from students of Owyhee Combined Schools and has hosted several artist-in-residence programs.
Bailey Benson Billington, who is a member of the California Trail Heritage Alliance and the Arts and Culture Advisory Board, accepted the award Wednesday night on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management.
“We are very proud of all the projects we put on every year through the trail center,” Billington said. [It gives] people a unique experience into the trail and into our community. We definitely appreciate this.”
The Elko County Art Club was recognized in the Arts Educator category for promoting and encouraging interest in the arts in Elko County for more than 40 years.
With more than 200 members, the club is open five days a week and operated by volunteers. It also hosts the annual Art in the Park, along with various art classes for adults and children.
In addition to supporting and nurturing local artists, the club provides opportunities for pursuing artistic growth, exhibiting and selling art, and developing art appreciation in the community.
Tess King, ECAC president, accepted the award on behalf of the club.
“I want to thank the community for the art outreach things we do at the club,” she said. “This recognition is huge for the organization and I appreciate all of you for letting us be a part of it.”
Simone Turner was chosen for this year’s Individual Artist award.
Turner has worked in jewelry, mosaic and painting mediums, and is featured in many local galleries. She was named 2017 Artist-in-Residence at the California Trail Interpretative Center, and won first place in the 2014 Miniature Art Competition by Latimer Art Club.
Recently, Turner has been involved in the Elko Mural Expo, Elko Centennial Boot project, and is working on projects at the Girl Scout House and for Elko Sanitation.
Upon receiving the ceramic plaque, Turner thanked the Keener and the community.
“This is for my mom and for Sarah Sweetwater,” she said.