Honoring Bellingham's creative cream of the crop

Mayor's Arts Awards winners celebrated at event in April

May 04, 2015 - by Mallorie Estenson

​​​The Mayor's Arts Awards was held this year at a standing-room only event on April 29 in the Harold and Irene Walton Theatre. At the event, Mayor Kelli Linville honored 10 people and events with awards.

Each year, The Mayor's Arts Awards honors people actively making Bellingham a more beautiful place. The artists' works are submitted to the Bellingham Arts Commission (BAC) for review before Mayor Linville makes her selections, and then an event to celebrate the artists is held.

Trish Harding, who has been with the BAC for the last six years, said that this year was different from years past in that the BAC wanted to “raise the bar a bit” by encouraging people to dress up and enjoy the new venue. She believes that the event held an air of prestige to honor the artists, whose work she calls extraordinary.

“For me, the Mayor's Arts Awards acknowledge people in our community who rise above just doing a creative endeavor,” Harding said. “There are some world-class things going on in this little town. The Mayor's Arts Awards deserve to be something pretty darn special.”

Mayor Linville was pleased at the great turn out to the event. “The arts play a very special role in Bellingham and in my life,” Mayor Linville said. “I want to thank all of our wonderful artists for their creative spirit in making Bellingham a great place, and to City staff and the Arts Commission, especially Denise Snyder, for this great event.”

Congratulations to all of this year's win​ners! Below is a listing of who won this year.

Brian Griffin
Recent accomplishments of Brian Griffin include his curation of a show on J.J. Donovan at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art. He was pinnacle in the donation of the J.J. Donovan sculpture in Fairhaven. He is a talented woodcarver, painter and musician. His in involvement in many City projects over the years have help create beauty in Bellingham.

Ivan Owen
Ivan Owen is the owner of MechMadness Designs, a costume, props and mechanical effects company. Ivan re-purposes items into post-apocalyptic armor, unusual mechanical gadgets and musical instruments. A noteworthy project he is being recognized for is collaboration to create prosthetic fingers for children through low-cost 3D designs and printing. These prosthetics are comparatively affordable, allowing children who may typically not be able to obtain a prosthetic to have a more fulfilling life.

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival (BHRFF)
Over 250 films have been shown at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival since inception 15 years ago. The films shown promote understanding of critical issues of equity, justice and health of humanity and the earth. In the past three years, films have been sent from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India and a long list of other locations. In 2014, films were shown in 11 venues throughout the City and County.

iDiOM Theater: These Seven Sicknesses
The iDiOM Theater is a local theater that provides actors, writers and directors a space to hone their craft, serving as a launching pad for artists. “These Seven Sicknesses,” a Sophocles play, opened in October and has had over 20 performances of a 4.5 hour show and a cast of 23, with dinner and dessert served to the audience at each performance.

The Mountain Runners
“The Mountain Runners” received two nominations for this award. The documentary tells the early history of Bellingham, its relationship to Mt. Baker and a desire to put Bellingham on the map. Todd Warger and Brian Young directed the documentary, which was released in 2011. Since its release, the film has been included in over 14 competitions, winning several awards and two Emmy Award nominations.

Shelley and Robert Muzzy
Shelley and Robert Muzzy are performing and visual artists who established the nationally recognized Bou-Saada Dance Troupe in 1970. Both are active in the Bellingham Theater Guild, with Robert starring in many productions. Shelley is recognized as one of the premier authorities on Middle Eastern and North African ethnic dance, as well as belly dancing.

Entertainment News Northwest​
Entertainment News Northwest supports a broad array of genres: arts, performance, music, visual, poetry and workshops. This year will mark 10 years of success. This local resource has been a valuable resource to the community for connecting to arts and entertainment.

Sibyl Sanford
Philanthropist, professional artist and author, Sibyl Sanford is responsible for the creation of the Sanford-Hill Piano series which provides access to professional pianists from around the world for the students of Western Washington University and the greater community. Supporter of Western Washington University Music Library, Bellingham Music Festival, Chamber Music Festival and Bellingham House Concerts at the Amadeus Project, to name a few.

Jeni Cottrell
Jeni Cottrell received three nominations for an arts award. Jeni currently serves on the Arts Commission, and she is an art advocate who has initiated several community art purchases art which have made art available to Brigid Collins, Sean Humphrey House and other organizations. She donates her time to providing access to art in many forms.

Karen Berry
​ Karen Berry has shown leadership in programs that serve young people. “Play it Forward Chamber Music Residency” out of Los Angeles has brought elite chamber groups to Whatcom County due to Karen's efforts in conjunction with Mary Passmore. Initiated a program called “Welcome Home Recital”, each of these recitals have featured a young musician studying to be a professional musician in a nationally recognized music program.

More Information

For program details, please see the program
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