And the Rockford Mayor's Arts Award goes to…

The red carpet reception outside the Coronado set the stage for an exciting event with more than 300 people in attendance. The 17th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards celebrated some of Rockford’s most talented artists. The recipients were:

Individual Artist—Rod MacDonald, sponsored by Associated Bank; Individual Arts Advocate—joan e. kole, sponsored by Main Street Financial; Corporation or Business—Bennie’s Cleaners, sponsored by Manpower; Star Teacher—Robb Edwards, Walker School, sponsored by Northern Public Radio; Exceptional Arts Student—Leah Asher, sponsored by Viking Chemical Company; Creative Cultural Event—Screw City/2020 Visions, RAM, sponsored by The Gordy and Mary Ann Smith Charitable Foundation; and Special Achievement Award—Susan Williams, sponsored by Fred C. Olson Funeral Chapels.

Nelson the Sock Monkey took center stage to kick off the show with Without Shoes Dance Company. Additional performances by Sara Lemen and the Bach Chamber Choir were wrapped around the awards portion of the evening. Bob Bates multi-tasked, opening with the Grand Barton Organ and then moving to the Steinway.

Mayor Larry Morrissey’s message, delivered with conviction, was about the importance of the event: “It reminds us of the ongoing legacy of artistic talent possessed by our community and the tireless and faithful efforts of the Rockford Area Arts Council, who work for all of us to assure the preservation and growth of that legacy.”

The recipients were gracious and certainly deserving. There was an eruption when joan e. kole was announced and she commanded center stage bedazzled with red-glittered hair. Award sponsor, Mary Ann Smith, entering from back stage (because she knows her way around the Coronado) brought the message home, “it is never better on TV.” And Rod MacDonald, a well-deserved standing ovation! True to form, Rod walked across the stage with his name tag stuck to the bottom of his shoe, anything for a laugh.

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the June 15-21, 2005, issue

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