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Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

The Howie Awards are presented annually by the Arts Council to: an Outstanding Artist who has contributed a talent and vision to the artistic life of the community.

Howard County Arts Council Honors Howie Award Winners

The Howard County Arts Council will honor this year's Howie Award recipients at the 25th annual Celebration of the Arts on Saturday, November 5, from 6:00-10:00pm at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College, Columbia, MD.

The Celebration gala provides an annual opportunity for members of Howard County's arts, education, government, and business communities to recognize individuals and businesses that have made meaningful contributions to the arts in Howard County.

The Howie Awards are presented annually by the Arts Council to: an Outstanding Artist who has contributed a high level of talent and vision to the artistic life of the community; an Outstanding Arts Educator who has made an exceptional contribution to arts education in Howard County; and an Outstanding Business or Community Supporter that has made a significant impact on the arts in Howard County.

This year's honoree for Outstanding Artist is Michael Blackman. Michael received a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. and a Master's Degree in Music Education at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, studying conducting with Dr. Harlan Parker.

A product of Howard County Public Schools, Michael eagerly accepted a position with the school system in 1991. He taught elementary school instrumental music for 18 years and was named Music Educator of the Year in 2007. Currently, Michael teaches Band and Music Theory at River Hill High School. School Band and Orchestra magazine selected him as Maryland's representative to their national "50 Directors Who Make A Difference" list in 2019.

Michael has been a performer and soloist in many sections of the Columbia Concert Band since joining the group as a twelfth grader in 1986. He became the band's Assistant Conductor in 1995. In the Fall of 2000, he took over as Director, and was recently recognized by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball for his twenty years on the podium with this Ensemble.

As someone whose life has been deeply enriched by music, Michael's goal is to pass this gift on to as many others as possible.

Kassidy Sharp is the honoree for Outstanding Arts Educator. A Howard County native, Kassidy always knew she wanted to come back home to teach theatre. After attending Glenelg High School, she graduated summa cum laude from East Carolina University with dual BFA degrees in Theatre Education and Theatre for Youth.

Following college, Kassidy began performing nationally with various touring children's theatre companies, performing for over 20,000 students across the country. She then returned to Howard County, where she took her dream job as theatre arts teacher and director at Glenelg High School, which she has held for the past seven years. She also has worked as a director and choreographer for various after-school and camp programs with Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts for the past seventeen years and currently serves as the director for Glenelg Broadway Connections, a special needs/peer theatre group where students of all abilities work together on socialization and speech goals while finding success and empowerment through theatrical performance.

On top of teaching and working with CCTA, Kassidy recently graduated summa cum laude with her MA in Theatre from Regent University.

The honoree for Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts is Betsy Stark. Betsy, a native of Sonoma County, California, has been greatly influenced by the arts throughout her life. Music flooded her parents' home and the family was always on the go, enjoying symphony concerts, street music, theater, community fundraisers, gallery hops, and outdoor adventures.

After moving to Maryland, Betsy's favorite pastime became chasing artists and galleries, pursuits that remain passions today. Her interest in plein air painting has opened many doors, allowing her to meet artists from across the United States. Betsy is involved with many organizations, including the Howard County Fair, Blossoms of Hope, and the Summer Market in Old Ellicott City. She enjoys advocating for the arts and local artists, at schools, in senior center art classes, and with all the incredible organizations that meet or have met at the Howard County Center for the Arts.

Betsy loves getting involved, especially when she can do small things with great impact. She has particularly fond memories of the freedom given to her as chairperson for the Celebration of the Arts' Art Auction from 2007-2017. The artwork she has collected over the years has outgrown her wall space and now rotates with the seasons.

A special Legacy in the Arts award will be presented posthumously to artist Ed Kidera. For 30 years, Ed worked as a welder and metal sculptor, producing over 8,500 signed (and several thousand unsigned) pieces of art. He worked primarily with recycled steel, copper, and brass. In addition to welding his signature bells and airships, Ed created mailboxes, birdbaths, furniture, clocks, lamps, fantasy weapons, and more. His work was featured in several museums and carried by over 60 galleries. Locally, one of his most well-known installations is his group of 15 figural sculptures outside The Mall in Columbia.

From a young age, Ed was an engineer. At nine, he built a tree house, and at twelve, a motorbike made from a rototiller. At fourteen, he built a car, and upon graduation, he knew that engineering was the clear career path. Ed earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology, a Master of Science in Ocean Engineering, and completed the coursework for a Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering while teaching full-time at the US Naval Academy.

After college, Ed invented motion compensation systems for oceanographic research at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The systems are still in use today. Ed's research evolved into developing a computer graphics program for IBM-compatible computers in the mid-1980s and writing early hospital patient portal software for Abbott Laboratories. A man of many talents, Ed also wrote the lyrics and music for over 120 songs and published a trilogy of fantasy books based on his sculptures.

The Coleen West Leadership in the Arts award will be presented to Gino Molfino, Gino has served as an artist, teacher, advocate, and leader for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for the past 20 years. As the current fine arts coordinator for HCPSS, he has collaborated and assisted with the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of the fine arts program curriculum, assessment materials, and professional learning opportunities, while providing instructional support for PreK-12 fine arts teachers.

Gino is a past recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Award to study contemporary Latin American performance art and culture in Mexico City. He has twice received the Excellence in Education Teacher Recognition from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and the Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the Commission on Presidential Scholars. He is the past president of the Maryland Art Education Association and has collaborated to develop state/national fine arts policies while cultivating a culture of innovation in curriculum development and professional learning that honors the teacher as artist and promotes contemporary practices in artmaking. In 2021 Gino was recognized by the National Art Education Association with the National Supervision/Administration Art Educator of the Year Award.

Come help us Celebrate! The evening begins at 6pm with a 2-hour reception where guests will sample culinary delicacies from distinctive local restaurants and bid on wonderful artwork by local artists during the art auction. At 8pm, guests will take their seats for the much-anticipated presentation of the Howie Awards and a special 20th anniversary edition of the Rising Star Performing Arts Competition!

Tickets are $50 and $100 and are available for purchase online at hocoarts.org/celebration or by phone at 410-313-ARTS (2787).




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