The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night recognized the winners of its second annual Arts Awards, acknowledging individuals and organizations supporting the arts in Edmonds. Below, we’ve listed those honored, as well as excerpts from their nomination forms.
Individual Volunteer: Darlene McLellan, president of Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation. According to the award nomination, McLellan has volunteered tirelessly to advocate and promote the arts and culture in Edmonds for almost 30 years. Her volunteering with the Edmonds Arts Festival began in 1986 with setting the inside art gallery exhibits and continues to this day. In 1987 Darlene was a member of the Sister City Committee, prior to the formation of the Commission. She organized the first art collection exchange between Hekinan and Edmonds in 1990 and continues to provide assistance with exhibits and special events for visiting delegations from Hekinan. A member of the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation board since 1989, Darlene has chaired both the Scholarships and Grants Committees. She has also served as the liaison with the City of Edmonds when the Foundation has been involved in donating public art to the City.
“Darlene approaches all that she does in the arts with passion, integrity and professionalism – a constant advocate for arts education and supporting young artists, and a generous volunteer, she has been an invaluable partner for nurturing the arts in Edmonds.”
Business Leadership — Arts: Cole Gallery, owner Denise Cole. Established by Denise Cole in 2006, Cole Gallery has excelled in national arts marketing, bringing exposure outside of Edmonds for the visual artists represented, and has provided leadership to other local businesses through its strong commitment to engaging the public. Cole Gallery is not only a major player in the local arts sales scene but it champions individual artists as they expand their audience and explore teaching options. The gallery has supported the Edmonds Art Studio Tour, provides free demonstrations to the public by internationally recognized artists, and is a popular participant in the monthly Artwalks. Denise has long reached into the community to foster support for the arts, whether through the Edmonds Arts Festival, the Studio Tour, or through her promotion of the Gallery. Cole Gallery has a blog about artists and their work as well as Facebook posts and the focus is not just on marketing but also with education and providing information.
Denise makes art accessible to every person who comes into her gallery – both serious collectors and the layman – educating and sharing her passion for art. This strong business leadership has been instrumental in involving both the broader business community and individual citizens in arts awareness and generating interest in arts that attract visitors to Edmonds.
Business Leadership — General: Comprehensive Wealth Management, owners Gary and Cheryl Arford. Comprehensive Wealth Management has been a generous supporter of the arts in Edmonds. Key to their support has been the Presented Artist Series at Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA), where they helped ECA bring a diverse range of celebrated artists from around the world to the community, including Judy Collins with the Passenger String Quartet, the California and Montreal Guitar Trios and the Wailin’ Jennys. The high caliber of these and other artists has helped to raise awareness of Edmonds Center for the Arts as a regional destination for the performing arts.
In addition to their own direct support, owners Gary and Cheryl Arford have been generous in fostering prospective sponsors and introducing ECA to people from outside Edmonds. They have made a major contribution to strengthening and inspiring our community through the performing arts.
Individual Leadership —Joe McIalwain, executive director, Edmonds Center for the Arts. Joe McIalwain has provided leadership in arts in Edmonds since he joined the Edmonds Center for the Arts in 2005. A gifted leader for the ECA, Joe consistently promotes the City of Edmonds and local businesses and draws people to the arts in Edmonds. He has worked ardently to showcase opportunities for resident arts organizations, from jazz festival to music educators to visiting Sister City artists. Joe has fostered enduring partnerships with local businesses, reflected both in the long list of season sponsors for the ECA and the relationship with Rick Steves and Europe Through the Back Door – these are relationships that promote Edmonds, strengthen local arts organizations, and expand regional awareness about the arts in our community.
His advocacy for the arts regionally and throughout the state have highlighted Edmonds in the statewide arena, and Joe is equally generous with his participation in the community. He has personally committed his time and creativity to partnering with the City and other organizations to ensure that the 2013 Arts Summit was successful and that long term projects like the 4th Avenue Cultural Corridor move ahead.
Creative Collaboration — Jazz Connection, Ron Keimer and Rotary Club of Edmonds Daybreakers, and Edmonds School District. The Edmonds Jazz Connection is one of those “great ideas” that actually became a reality and exemplifies how a collaborative program can create broader visibility for the arts in Edmonds and foster interest in music among the general public while supporting music education. A free and accessible event, the Edmonds Jazz Connection provides public recognition and performance opportunities for hundreds of students each year. The students are connected with professional musicians for clinics and performances, showcasing the talents of young musicians and their band directors. The day-long event brings thousands of people to downtown Edmonds to celebrate the musical accomplishments of students in our region. The Edmonds School District – students, music teachers, band directors, and administration – is a key partner in this collaboration. The Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary initiated the program 14 years ago, with the goal of letting the public know what incredible young musicians we have in this region. The Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary worked closely with the Edmonds School District to create this program, and there are many individuals and organizations who contributed – but, without the leadership, drive and enthusiasm of Ron Keimer it might never have happened. Let’s thank Ron for getting it done!
Ron recognized the quality of musicianship in our school programs and he helped create this event to showcase and encourage their talent. He has worked tirelessly to make sure that every year is a success. His caring nature, and driving energy are an inspiration to many, and his involvement has made the Edmonds Arts scene richer.