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Awards recognize Jasper artists

Jasper’s finest artistic talent is set to be recognized Sept. 28 at the third annual Raven About the Arts Awards.

Event organizer Marianne Garrah said the awards aim to put the spotlight on Jasperites who make meaningful contributions to the town’s artistic community.

They recognize people who “give to the community, inspire others and better themselves through art,” she said.

The awards spotlight is particularly special, she said, because all the nominations come directly from members of the community.

The number of nominations that came in this year delighted Garrah. There were at least three or four nominations for each of the eight awards, and some with many more. In total she estimates 35–50 people phoned or emailed her to nominate a community member.

Along with awards recognizing community members who excel in dance, music, theater and fine arts, awards are also given to “pillars” of the artistic community.

These are people like Wayne Kennedy. Kennedy will be honoured with the “Patron of the Arts” award Saturday for his long-running email newsletter.

The reminder of arts happenings in town started as a way to “fill in the gaps,” but over the years grew to become one of the most important arts listings in Jasper.

“I just do my little bit to promote arts where I can,” Kennedy said.

He doesn’t do it for recognition, but to help create a more vibrant artistic community in town.

“I enjoy what the arts do for town,” he said, “it’s part of being alive.”

Garrah echoes Kennedy’s sentiment. In a phone interview Sept. 23 she gushed about this year’s crop of artistic talent.

John Strugnell, who will take home this year’s writing award, captivated her when she stumbled upon his “delightful, spiritual thoughts” displayed on the walls of Coco’s Café a couple of years ago.

This year’s dance award winner is Cheyenne Henderson. The Jasper Dance Program student has dance in her soul, said Garrah.

“You can see it when she talks about dance; it’s a life thing for her.”

Then there’s Devon Blackstock, the theatre award winner, who Garrah just got to know, but puts on very powerful performances with the Jasper Theatre Company.

“When she gets on stage, there’s no more Devon,” she said.

Also getting awards this year will be violin player Monika Schaefer for music, Alan Butler for fine arts, sculptor Jessy Dion for mixed media and Dorothy Peterson for pillar of the arts.

The awards themselves are a “little piece of culture” that Garrah said are quite beautiful. She won’t say exactly what they are, but hints that the design is connected to the name of the awards.

She encourages people to show their support at the ceremony at the Jasper Legion Saturday night, and to nominate anyone they think deserves to be recognized at next year’s awards.

 Trevor Nichols

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