The Norman Transcript

October 3, 2013

Fall Arts Luncheon celebrates link between local businesses, arts

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman businesses and artists were brought together Wednesday during the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s annual Fall Arts Luncheon to honor those who support the arts in Norman

Laura Ingram, business and the arts committee chair, said one of the event’s purposes was to introduce businesses to local talent they hadn’t had the chance to meet.

Luncheon attendees enjoyed musical entertainment provided by Michael Bendure, Richard “Daddy” Love, the University of Oklahoma Opera Theatre and Sooner Theatre. For the OU Opera, Patricia Westley, Rodney Westbrook and Betsy Hays performed selections from “L’Elisir d’Amore.” The opera will open Oct. 17 at OU.

Brandon Adams, artistic director of Sooner Theatre, and Gwen Walker, OU voice professor, performed selections from “The Full Monty,” which will open Oct. 18 and run for two weeks.

Additionally, Addison Baker, a seventh-grader at Whittier Middle School, and Brooke Lashar, a freshman at Norman North High School, performed “What is this Feeling” from the musical “Wicked.”

The 2013 Norman Arts Council award winners included Fredgren’s Quality Works, business in the arts; Hannah Cruz, business person in the arts; and First American Bank, business in the arts.

Susan Greer, Norman Arts Council president, said Fredgren’s Quality Works was selected for its restoration of historical homes and that such reliable service from Fredgren’s was invaluable to nonprofits within the artist community.

Erinn Gavaghan, executive director of the Norman Arts Council, described winner Hannah Cruz, arts and entertainment editor of The Norman Transcript, as an asset to the community.

“With NTown, she has dramatically changed the way arts are represented in the community to the benefit of the arts,” Gavaghan said.

When accepting her award, Cruz said the arts have always been a part of her life and that she was grateful to work with Norman artists.

First American Bank was honored for the leadership it has demonstrated in the arts community by offering sponsorships and volunteers.

“We are very honored to be recognized. We take the arts very seriously and know the arts are a critical part of a thriving community,” Neil Schemmer, president of First American Bank said.

Susan Baley, Jay Wilkinson and Dr. Richard Zielinski were honored as 2013 Neighbors.

Baley, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of At director of education, has lived in Norman since 1988 and worked as education director for more than 20 years. Baley has implemented many programs at Fred Jones, including Fred Talks and Art Afternoon.

Michael Bendure, Fred Jones director of communication, accepted the award for Baley in her absence and said Baley believes art is important because it improves the quality of life.

Wilkinson is an Oklahoma native and is a professor of jazz at OU. Gavaghan said Wilkinson focuses on jazz in America and stresses that jazz is America’s classical music.

“These people inspire me to do more,” Wilkinson said, referring to his fellow honorees.

Zielinski is the director of choral activities at OU and has conducted orchestras and choruses across the world. He serves as the artistic director and principal conductor of the Classical Music Festival in Austria.

In 2012, he founded The Norman Philharmonic, a professional chamber orchestra.

Zielinski said he was grateful to live in a place like Norman where the arts and business communities rally together.

“It’s a dream place to live and be an artist,” he said.

Katherine Parker