Friday, September 18, 2020

MIFA Awards Scholarships and Artist of the Year

From left – Karen Swanker, Carolyn Burger, Tara O’Neill, Sandi Johnson, Allie Ellis. PHOTOS BY STEVE GIMMESTAD

From left – Karen Swanker, Carolyn Burger, Tara O’Neill, Sandi Johnson, Allie Ellis. PHOTOS BY STEVE GIMMESTAD

By Steve Gimmestad

 

It was a great Saturday luncheon on May 23 at Wesley United Methodist Church, as the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts introduced their 2015 scholarship winners and presented their Artist of the Year.

The scholarship winners were Joseph Byrne (Theater, Vocal Performance, Writing), Livia Lenhoff (Motion Design, Illustration), Tyler MacDonald (Business, Photography, Art) and Theodor Schimek (Illustration). Tyler was unable to attend due to a photography show in Hilton Head, SC. His mother, Priscilla, was on hand to accept in his stead.

Attendees got a chance to view their works during the initial meet and greet. The mingling also included a chance to meet members of MIFA, and learn much about their mission and accomplishments.

Scholarship winners (from left) Theodor Schimek, Livia Lenhoff, Joseph Byrne and Tyler MacDonald (who was unable to attend).

Scholarship winners (from left) Theodor Schimek, Livia Lenhoff, Joseph Byrne and Tyler MacDonald (who was unable to attend).

Some of which include replacing a lost statue in Leigh Plummer Park, fundraising activities to support the scholarships and hosting many ventures to bring artists and the community together.

Carolyn Burger, MIFA President, opened the formal part of the luncheon with some welcoming remarks. She then introduced Joseph Byrne who performed a solo, which gave the audience a chance to hear why he was a scholarship winner. Presentation to the scholarship winners was made by Allie Ellis, MIFA Treasurer. Their enthusiasm and gratitude for the honors were evident throughout the luncheon.

Karen Swanker, MIFA VP, took the stage and introduced Artist of the Year, Tara O’Neill. Tara was honored for her numerous accomplishments and contributions to the art

Scholarship winners and their parents are congratulated by Commissioner Donna Fiala (center).

Scholarship winners and their parents are congratulated by Commissioner Donna Fiala (center).

community. Among the highlights are: founder of the Goodland Arts Alliance, recipient of numerous awards for her creations, writer of “An Artful Life” column which appears regularly in the Coastal Breeze News, and teacher/mentor to those who wish to explore their artistic desires.

I won’t quote Tara in this article. Instead, I refer you to her column here in the Coastal Breeze in which she does a great job of expressing her feelings. Tara was especially praiseful of the scholarship winners, and offered her highest praise as they pursue their dreams.

The comments for Tara from the audience reflected a person that is much loved in this community; a person of warmth, humor and talent. Congratulations to all on this day!

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