CONWAY — The arts took center stage April 13 as the Conway Alliance for the Arts presented its fourth annual Conway Arts Awards ceremony in Reves Recital Hall of the Trieschmann Fine Arts Building at Hendrix College.
Henry Smiley, professor of English and chairman of the literature and language arts department at Central Baptist College in Conway, welcomed the audience. Smiley is a member of the CAFTA board of
directors and chairman of this year’s Conway Arts Awards Committee.
“We are here to recognize several very deserving local artists,” he said. “We will also see a number of live performances that show the diversity of the arts in the Conway community.”
Smiley said the Outstanding Individual Artist award has been named in honor of the late Conway artist Gene Hatfield.
Smiley recognized Hatfield’s three adult children who were in the audience — Mathilda Hatfield of Conway, Hadrian Hatfield of
Rockville, Maryland, and Marc Hatfield of Loveland, Colorado.
Gayle Seymour, CAFTA board chairwoman and associate dean of the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and
Communication, said the awards included certificates and hand-carved mementos designed and created by local artist John B. Wilkins.
Recipients of the 2017 Conway Arts Awards are as follows:
• Outstanding Student Artist Award, K-12 Division: Mae Roach
“I was completely surprised,” said Roach, the 17-year-old daughter of Tim and Heather Roach. “I knew I was nominated, but I had no idea I would win. I was so excited.”
Roach, who is a junior at Conway High School, said she helped with Conway ArtsFest last year and is aware of CAFTA and its mission in the community.
“I enjoy drawing,” she said. “I like to work with graphite, pen and ink, and charcoal.”
Although she does not plan to major in art in college, she said she does plan to continue making art. She hopes to attend the University of Arkansas for pre-med studies.
At Conway High School, Roach is a member of the Lady Wampus Cats softball team, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Caring Cats, as well as the Delta Beta Sigma national high school sorority.
• Outstanding Student Artists Award, College Division: Gustavo Fernandez
“I was so excited to get the award,” said Fernandez, 26, a native of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, who is a violinist and a music-performance major at the University of Central Arkansas, as well as a member of the Conway Symphony Orchestra. “I did not expect to get it. This is a huge honor for me, … to be recognized by this community that has been so good to me.”
Fernandez is scheduled to graduate this year but said he may stay one more year to get a certificate in performance.
“I hope to play professionally some day,” he said.
Fernandez was accepted into a music school for talented children when he was 5. At 14, he was the principal second violin in the Santa Cruz Youth Orchestra, and at 15, he won first prize and was named Outstanding String Player of the Bellas Artes Music School, which led him to play at the Spanish Embassy. He
was the youngest and only student member of the Amati String Quartet of Bolivia at age 16. Since he began his studies at UCA in summer 2012, Fernandez has played for the Bolivian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and at the Smithsonian museums as a chamber musician.
He participated in the Hot Springs Music Festival in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and in 2015, he was accepted into the ARIA International Summer Music Academy at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts for master classes and private lessons. He was also accepted in an international music festival as a soloist and chamber musician for a concert tour in the Baltimore and Maryland area.
• Outstanding Arts Educator Award: Sally Allinder
Allinder has been teaching art at Theodore Jones Elementary School in Conway for 11 years.
“I am still in shock. I did not expect it,” Allinder said when asked how she felt about receiving the award.
“I want to first thank my principal, [Tammy Woosley], for taking the time to nominate me,” Allinder said. “I deeply appreciate this recognition.
“Our schools have been involved in the Conway ArtsFest since the beginning.”
Allinder encourages her students to participate in many art shows and contests, including the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. She started an after-school art club for third- and fourth-graders at her school.
• Gene Hatfield Individual Artist Award: B.J. Abrams
“I was so excited that I won this award,” Abrams said, laughing. “I almost lost my makeup.
“Gene Hatfield and I knew each other for more than 20 years,” Abrams said. “He and I were good arguers. We argued about everything from art, to politics, to religion, to education and everything in between.
“He critiqued everything I did for the past 20 years,” she said. “He made me a better artist.
“I moved to Conway to attend UCA, and I just stayed. This is home now.”
Abrams describes herself as a “primitive, self-taught and school-trained artist.” She has her own gallery in downtown Conway — the Arkansas Arts Beautification Gallery.
• Mayor’s Award for Community Advocate for the Awards: Tab Townsell
“I’m very honored to have received this award,” said Townsell, former mayor of Conway. “There were a number of honorees that worked harder than I did.
“My job as mayor was easy … help bring the arts to Conway,” he said. “I am proud to say Conway has a viable arts community.”
Ruthann Curry Browne of Conway said in her nomination of Townsell, “During his tenure as mayor of Conway, Tab Townsell envisioned, supported and fought for the arts in Conway. He believed — and still believes — in a city whose arts community is an integral part of our move into the future.”
• Rollin R. Potter Outstanding Arts Patron Award: Terry Fiddler.
“I am shocked,” Fiddler said when asked how he felt about winning the award.
“This is one of the few times that I have been totally shocked. There were so many people sitting in the crowd that are more deserving than I am,” he said.
“I do have a love for Conway, UCA and the arts,” he said. “And I’ve spent as much time at Hendrix as any Hendrix student.
“Receiving this award is really an honor for me.”
A local dentist, Fiddler was on the planning committee for the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA and has continued to be a supporter of its Public Appearances program. He also assisted in leading fundraising efforts for the Main Stage Education Series at Reynolds, which serves school children in central Arkansas.
Fiddler is a former member of the Conway School District’s board of directors. He is a member of the advisory council for the UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication and is a supporter of the Conway Symphony Orchestra. He has also supported the Conway Community Arts Association.
Fiddler has been a member of the band Yesteryears since its conception in the late 1980s, and the band has donated its service for free concerts as fundraisers for such organizations as the Conway Boys & Girls Club. He has been a member of, and a donor to, the Conway Men’s Chorus. He is also a member of the Conway School Foundation and the Conway Kiwanis Club.
• Faulkner County
Library Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award: Rosemary Henenberg
Henenberg is the Willis H. Homes Distinguished Professor of Theatre Arts Emerita at Hendrix. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree from Baylor University and a doctorate in comparative arts from Ohio University. During her tenure at Hendrix, she was chairwoman of the theater arts department and area chair for the humanities division.
Henenberg was the original director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language. Under her leadership, the Cabe Theatre Arts Center was constructed. She retired in 2002 after having directed more than 100 productions, involving approximately 5,000 students at Hendrix.
“I, of course, am pleased to be noticed personally for this award,” Henenberg told those attending the CAFTA awards ceremony. “And I am pleased that here in central Arkansas, we celebrate the arts and artists, and I congratulate all the awardees and performers.
“The arts give us a community to work in. They keep us off the streets. Or if they don’t exactly keep us off the streets, they teach us how to make our street smarts into something useful.
“The two great poles of the arts, classicism and romanticism, enable us to deal with beauty and trouble. We engage with both deep thoughts and physical and manual dexterity — making dances, sculptures, properties, light plots and writing down pieces in the sonata allegro form. In all the arts, practice, doing something, rehearsing a play, are of the greatest importance.”
Henenberg alluded to a speech by Helen Vendler, an English literature teacher at Harvard and a visitor to Hendrix that Henenberg once met.
“She makes the point that it is by their arts that cultures are principally remembered,” Henenberg said. “She makes the point, along with the poet Wallace Stevens, that art helps us live our lives.”
The Conway Arts Awards ceremony, which was followed by a reception in the
Trieschmann Gallery, was interspersed with various performers by artists. They included the
• The Conway Symphony Orchestra String Quartet, featuring Albert Garcia, Tony Huang, Gianni Gambini and Selva Aliss, performed “American Quartet,” by Antonin Dvorak.
• Dancers from the Blackbird Academy, Maria Casavechia and Anne Ryan Johnston, performed “Take Me to the River,” choreographed by Paul Tillman.
• Actors from the Conway High
School Theatre Department — Andrea Beggs, Reilly Mullaney, Kaymon Neal and Savannah Raup — performed “Jolly Holiday,” from Mary Poppins.
• D.S. Lowe of Conway gave a spoken-word presentation titled Warzones and Pinkie Promises.