It was as if North Texas art lovers had a group hug on Wednesday, November 17, at the Fairmont Hotel’s International Ballroom.
After nearly 18 months of beating beaten up by the COVID-19 virus restrictions, both the worker bees and their loyal supporters like Hal Brierley, Marena Gault, Cece Smith and Ford Lacy, Dallas City Councilperson Gay Donnell Willis, Chris Heinbaugh, Ian Derrer, Charles Santos, Debi Pena, Elisabeth Galley, Barbara and James Mason, Kendall Purpura, Autumn Garrison, Calvert Collins-Bratton, Tom Leatherbury and Mark LaRoe rallied to celebrate the arts standouts for the Business Council of the Arts’ 33rd annual Obelisk Awards luncheon.
During the reception outside the ballroom, the lobby was filled with guests, the vast majority of whom opted to go maskless. Perhaps it was due to the successful reports of the vaccines and boosters and the loosening of restrictions. Still, there were some holdouts who opted to wear their facial accessory. So it was no surprise when one masked guest spied another masked type and exclaimed, “Is that you?” The response was equally upbeat, “Is that you?” After repeated exchanges, the two guests’ eyes reflected that the old friends had indeed connected.
However, even the most covered up type was able to doff their mask when guests found their tables for lunch and the program when the doors to the ballroom opened at 11:30. Inside, saxophonist Carly Stock and guitarist Will Peters-Seymour performed on stage as the guests filled the room.
Following a welcome by BCA CEO Katherine Wagner at noon, BCA CEO Katherine Wagner welcomed the group and told them that the program would get underway in 20 minutes. While the 20-minute delay provided guests with a chance to talk with their table companions, that chatting might not have been necessary due to the lobby reception. As it was, the delay resulted in some guests having to depart before the presentation of awards was over.
At 12:22 the program got underway with BCA Founder’s Chair Nancy Nasher and Board Chair Rick del Monte reminding about the importance of the arts to the North Texas community, as they contribute $1.5 billion to the area.
Rick, who has served as board chair for four years, said this was truly his last year and he attributed the ease of chairing the organization to Nancy and Katherine.
As the awardees lined up at the side of the stage, fiddlers June Blount and Joanna Ridgway performed on the stage, proving just how magical the art of fiddling is. Their performance resulted in some guests rising to their feet to tap along and other to clap to the tune of the music.
As emcee Rebecca Silvestri announced the awardees, the following people took their places on the stage:
- Art Philanthropist Satish Gupta
- Business Champion for the Arts Andy Smith
- Arts Partnerships (small) Terri Provencal for Patron Magazine
- Arts Partnerships (large) Chris Reynolds for Toyota
- New Initiatives (small) Stephen Walsh for Gensler
- New Initiatives (large) Jan Rugg for Atmos Energy
- Visionary Non-Pr0fit Arts Leaders Kim Noltemy
- Distinguished Cultural Organizations Debbie Storey for AT&T Performing Arts Center
- Outstanding Leadership Arts Alumnus Cathryn McCelellan Kelly
- Juror’s Award Patty Granville
- Arts Education Darrell Rodenbaugh for North Texas Performing Arts Center
- Lifetime Achievement Award Ann Williams
In receiving their awards, all agreed on the importance of the arts enhancing North Texas, but a few highlights included:
- Satish reminding guests of India’s 5,000 year history
- Arts Partnerships (large) Toyota’s Chris Reynolds appearing via video.
- Andy Smith recalling how his first introduction to the arts was when he was 16 and his mother gave him the gift of a ticket to see “Camelot” at the Fair Park Music Hall
- Patty Granville’s getting a big smile from the baby boomers in the audience as she recalled her being Miss Patty on the nationally syndicated children’s TV show “Romper Room.”
Starting at 1 p.m., a handful of guests were spotted departing in between speakers until the event concluded at 1:30. Too bad they missed the final award of the day. It was the Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Ann Williams, who received a standing ovation before she even rose to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award. In her acceptance speech, Ann recalled being a member of the first BCA Leadership Class and being introduced to BCA Founder the late Ray Nasher by BCA’s first Executive Director Pat Porter, who was in the luncheon’s audience.