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Joining S. Paul Musco at the Arts OC's 14th Annual Arts Orange County Awards evening

Joining S. Paul Musco at Arts OC’s 14th Annual Arts Orange County Arts Awards evening

S. Paul Musco summed up the heart of Arts OC’s 14th Annual Orange County Arts Awards when he said, “Give. Give from the heart.” Paul was among many deserving “givers” honored at the always heartwarming evening. This county does support the arts, and it is wonderful to see people singled out who really, really make a difference.

The evening began with a wonderful reception and scrumptious dinner at Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, which segued to the awards at Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Samueli Theater. Hosting the honors were Arts OC’s Executive Director Richard Stein and Orange County Business Council’s CEO Lucy Dunn. They were both equally adept at the light-hearted jab as well as lauding those responsible for the progress and achievements in the cultural arts life of Orange County.

The Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Awards for lifetime achievement were presented to four deserving people. Arts philanthropists S. Paul and Marybelle Musco, as anyone involved in the arts knows, put their money where their mouth is and have given to many, many arts organizations and other deserving charities, both here and in Los Angeles. Another deserving honoree was Dr. Peter Keller, President of Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, who has transformed the museum into a cultural hallmark by drawing major exhibitions from around the world. Peter Blake, owner of the Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, was honored for his exemplary work in promoting contemporary art in his 20 years as a gallery owner, and Beulah Strickler, founder and former artistic director of Fullerton Friends of Music, was lauded for founding the 54-year-old chamber music society. Accompanied by her three proud sons, Robert, Dan and Michael Stickler, the 95-year-old music maven (her birthday was that day) quipped, “Our concerts are free to the public. How we do it is a secret!”

The Achievement Award honorees included Andre Woodward as Outstanding Artist, Laguna College of Art+Design as Outstanding Arts Organization, with LCAD President Jonathan Burke accepting, and the New Swan Theater at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts as Outstanding Contribution to the Built Environment with Eli Simon and Joe Lewis III of Trevor School of the Arts accepting.

Presenters included California Arts Council Chairman Wylie Aitken, who with his wife Bette were the event’s honorary chairs, Philharmonic Society of OC President Dean Corey, Southern California Edison’s Jo Ellen Chatham, Arts OC Board President Rick Smetanka, Board Secretary Susan Hori and board members Mary Lyons and John Evans. Others helping make the event happen included Arts OC Deputy Director Pat Wayne and board member/event chair Janet Ray.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the entertainment. The artists were truly spectacular! They included singer Sonny Moon and accompanist Dan Spector, jazz flautist Nicole Mitchell and the violin/piano duo of Iryna Krechkovsky and Kevin Kwan Loucks.

Selected photos courtesy of Nick Koon