Excellence in the Arts Awards presented

By Staff
ARTS HONOREES Arts in the Park kicked off Friday night with this year's artists' awards. The honorees were, clockwise from left: Jamie Cater, Arts Patron (Individual) Award; Greg Cartmell, Artist Achievement Award; Nancy Ray, Arts Educator Award; Dr. Richard Riley, Arts Patron (Corporate) Award; Becky Lewis, Arts Patron (Corporate) Award; and Debbie Martin, Arts Patron (Individual) Award. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 6, 2002
Arts in the Park for 2002 has officially begun.
Activities began Friday night when four people and The Riley Foundation were named recipients of the Meridian Arts Council's Excellence in the Arts Awards.
The awards, the kick-off for the two-day festival, were presented at the Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park. For the first time in its 11-year history, two people took home the Arts Patron (Individual) Award.
Jamie Cater and Debbie Martin were both honored for the "Around Town Carousels Abound" public art project they spearheaded last year, and that has placed painted carousel horses throughout Meridian.
Taking home the Arts Educator Award was Nancy Ray, who teaches artistically gifted children in grades two through five at Poplar Springs Elementary School
Greg Cartmell received the Artist Achievement Award.
Betty Lou Jones, chairman of this year's Arts in the Park festival, said that Cartmell "is very instrumental in encouraging young artists and he contributes much of his art work to charity."
The award for the Arts Patron (Corporate) category went to The Riley Foundation because it has been a guiding force for the planned Riley Education and Performing Arts Center and the restoration of the Grand Opera House downtown.
Nominations for the awards were received from the community. A committee made up of Meridian Arts Council members selected the award recipients from multiple nominations in each category.
Friday night's reception also was an opportunity to entertain artists who will be exhibiting their work at Arts in the Park today and Sunday. The theme of the reception was "Alice in Wonderland's Tea Party."
Those attending were entertained with a preview performance by GMT Productions of Atlanta, a tour group that will present mini-plays from "Alice in Wonderland" this weekend at the festival.
Also performing Friday night was the musical group, Carey Smith and Friends, at the Big Band Bash held in the Frank Cochran Center in Highland Park. The performance was sponsored by the Meridian Community College Arts &Letters Series.