On September 21, 2022, Nickel Plate Arts will host its 10th annual anniversary, Diamond Gala, presented by Smith’s Jewelers. Nickel Plate Arts will award and recognize some of our most inspirational artists and arts advocates among our region’s thriving arts scene. Join us at Conner Prairie in Fishers to enjoy dinner and drinks, live music, hands-on arts experiences and a live auction during our premier fundraiser of the year. Thanks to our title sponsor there will be a chance to win a 1-carat diamond, certified by Smith’s Jewelers.
The winners for the 2021 Nickel Plate Arts Awards are as follows:
The nominees for the 2021 Nickel Plate Arts Awards are as follows:
EMERGING ARTS CHAMPION:
David Decker, championed the new makerspace in Hub & Spoke
Ross Hilleary, advocated for the FA + CC grant program
Jason Pearson, spearheaded 2021’s inaugural Front Porch Music Festival
Frederick Durham, innovative photographer and showcase artist
Daniel Grose, vibrant aerial and traditional photography of the Hamilton County area
Grace Gross, rain barrel contest winner for Lights Over Morse
Teresa Wesley, emerging entrepreneur who creates crochet Amigurumi animals and bracelets
ARTIST OF THE YEAR:
Jessica Hancock, fine art, illustration, and design
Dan Howell, clay work
Jeannie Logan & Marc Feeney, creators of the Cabin Fever Cabaret
Walt Thacker, paintings including the White River canoe project and Carmel water barrels
ARTS PATRON OF THE YEAR:
Karen Huff, regular supporter of local artists and their works
Steve Sanner, founder of the Jiffy Lube Mural Project
Thompson Thrift, supporter of local murals, art projects, and musicians, include Live Listening on the Yard
ARTS EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR:
Michelle Feeney, connected arts students to at-home art kits during the pandemic and to the ‘Tar City’
Erin Goodman, connected arts students to the Cicero mural and White River Canoe project
ARTS LEADERS OF THE YEAR:
Leah Leach, founder of Gals Guide Library, the only women’s history lending library in the US
Jennie Otterman, local esteemed theatre director, including this year’s Shakespeare in the Park in Noblesville
Tom Rich, President of the Fishers Art Council
Celeste Williams, important journalistic voice and leader of Indiana Writers Center
Emerging Artist of the Year Nominees:
Artist of the Year Nominees:
Arts Educator of the Year Nominees:
Emerging Arts Patron of the Year Nominees:
Arts Patron of the Year Nominees:
These are additional groups and individuals who made great achievements in the arts in the past year:
Public Art Projects:
Emerging Artist of the Year Nominees:
Artist of the Year Nominees:
Arts Educator of the Year Nominees:
Arts Champion of the Year Nominees:
Public Art Project of the Year Nominees:
Artist of the Year: This award goes to an artist, musician or performer living and working within the Nickel Plate Arts Region who has shown an outstanding ability to promote not only their own work, but also the artistic merits of the community at large. This award goes to someone who exemplifies the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats. This person has not only perfected their artistic technique, but also shows outstanding business acumen and customer service skills.
Arts Patron of the Year: This award goes to person or company that has invested a substantial amount in our arts community, either through the purchase of work by local artists, contributing money to support local arts organizations and/or investing in public art within our region. This person exemplifies the concept that art makes our entire community stronger and is good for business. This person is an established figure in our arts community, as well as our business community, and those of us seeking to improve our artistic culture look to him or her for leadership and support.
Emerging Arts Champion of the Year: This award goes to someone who is starting out in his or her career, but who has already shown a dedication to supporting local arts and artists. This dedication may be demonstrated through volunteership, nurturing collaboration, social promotion of arts efforts or the purchasing of artwork. He or she has shown dedication to becoming a member of various arts organizations and to participating in arts programming and planning. This person exemplifies the notion that art is worth investing in, regardless of income or professional background. He or she shows outstanding dedication to nurturing creativity within the community, and has the potential to greatly shape our creative culture for years to come.
Emerging Artist of the Year: This award goes to a student in high school or college, or someone who has graduated from an arts program within the last two years who is striving to become a professional artist, musician or performer in the Nickel Plate Arts region. This young person demonstrates not only incredible artistic talent, but also leadership, vision and business savvy. This person has outstanding potential to shape and influence the future of our arts community, as well as to achieve financial success in his or her artistic field. He or she has embraced the idea that you can, in fact, make a living in the arts, and he or she is boldly going forward with that goal, and spreading joy for art with all those he or she encounters.
NOMINATION GUIDELINES: Nominees must live or work in the Nickel Plate Region (Noblesville, Fishers, Cicero, Arcadia, Atlanta and Tipton) or made have made a major, positive impact on the local arts community. Only one person can be nominated on each form, but you may nominate more that one person in each category. You may self-nominate or nominate a relative or coworker.
If you’d like to request a form via email or are having technical difficulties, please contact Nickel Plate Arts for help. firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-452-3690.
2017 AWARD WINNERS:
Artist of the Year: Christine Merchent and J. Rodney Reveal
Emerging Artist of the Year: Noah Laramore
Emerging Arts Champion of the Year: John Gilmore
Patron of the Year: The Legacy Fund
2016 AWARD WINNERS:
Artist of the Year: Lesley Haflich
Emerging Artist of the Year: Kat Ho
Emerging Patron of the Year: Alaina Shonkwiler
Patron of the Year: the Noblesville Parks Foundation
Read more about the WINNERS HERE!
Nickel Plate Arts launched the Nickel Plate Arts Awards in 2016 as a way to celebrate local leadership in the arts. We interact with incredible people every day who are working so very hard to keep creativity thriving in the Nickel Plate Arts region, and we want to share their stories and success with everyone.
During our inaugural call for nominations in August, the names of 22 different local arts leaders across our four categories were submitted by their peers, friends, patrons and coworkers. We wanted to share a little bit of information about these arts leaders – they all have helped to build the reputation of the Nickel Plate Arts region and each deserves recognition.
Emerging Artist of the Year:
This award goes to a student in high school or college, or someone who has graduated from an arts program within the last two years who is striving to become a professional artist, musician or performer in the Nickel Plate Arts region. This young person demonstrates not only incredible artistic talent, but also, leadership, vision and business savvy. This person has outstanding potential to shape and influence the future of our arts community, as well as to achieve financial success in his or her artistic field. He or she has embraced the idea that you can, in fact, make a living in the arts, and he or she is boldly going forward with that goal, and spreading joy for art with all those he or she encounters.
The nominees are:
Currently a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, Paul was the president of the National Art Honor Society of Noblesville High School during the 2015-16 school year. He planned and implemented a spring break art camp experience at Nickel Plate Arts, which proved to be a transformative experience for both the students who attended the camp and the high school students who participated in it.
Currently a student at Purdue University, Hanna is a graduate of Noblesville High School whose artistic talents have been prominently evident for many years. Hanna earned money for college by playing her guitar and singing at public events around town. Her remarkable voice made her a local favorite, but her drive to harness her artistic talents professionally at such a young age indicates that she has the potential to shape the artistic community in our region for years to come.
Alyson was a member of the Noblesville High School internship program and worked at Nickel Plate Arts throughout the 2015-16 school year. Alyson’s humility and sweet demeanor quickly endeared her to many of us here, and our respect for her only grew as we witnessed both her artistic and leadership abilities. Alyson worked tirelessly to help us implement countless programs, and she volunteered her services on several weekends and evenings outside of her regular internship hours. Alyson was also a member of the National Art Honor Society, and as she pursues her academic career at the Art Institute of Chicago, we feel confident that she will continue to prove her abilities as a leader in the arts.
After graduating from the Herron School of Art and Design in 2015, Kat Ho immediately began to shape the artistic culture of Noblesville. Kat is the Art Director at the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, and participates in activities with the ad hoc Noblesville Makers, Nickel Plate Arts and other local groups. Her art style helps push the boundaries of what Noblesville art looks like, her personal journey is an inspiration both for her creative work and for those who know her, and her creativity and work ethic stand as fabulous examples for other up-and-coming arts professionals.
Emerging Arts Champion of the Year:
This award goes to someone who is starting out in his or her career, but who has already shown a dedication to supporting local arts and artists. This dedication may be demonstrated through volunteership, nurturing collaboration, social promotion of arts efforts or the purchasing of artwork. He or she has shown dedication to becoming a member of various arts organizations and to participating in arts programming and planning. This person exemplifies the notion that art is worth investing in, regardless of income or professional background. He or she shows outstanding dedication to nurturing creativity within the community, and has the potential to greatly shape our creative culture for years to come.
The nominees are:
At age 25, Hannah Lindgren already boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments. She opened her own business – Deliberate Media – in 2013, she has provided hours of volunteer service to many local organizations, she produced a feature-length documentary that premiered this past June, and she has provided in-kind sponsorships valued well over $5,000 to several organizations, including Nickel Plate Arts. Due to her close ties to our organization, Hannah is ineligible to win this year’s award, but because a community member nominated her, we wanted to acknowledge her accomplishment.
Charged with engaging the downtown core and the arts community for the City of Noblesville’s Economic Development department, Alaina Shonkwiler is one of the most visible champions of the arts in our region. This year, she worked tirelessly to finish the Cultural Arts Blueprint, which outlines the city’s long-range plans for engaging and nurturing the arts. She also championed the proposal to designate a large portion of downtown Noblesville as a cultural arts district, and is in the process of applying for state recognition of the same district. Serving on both the Noblesville Main Street and Hamilton County Tourism boards, Alaina’s leadership skills are evident on a daily basis. The growing art collection in her office also underscores her passion for local art and compassion for local artists.
As the daughter of a musician and the wife and daughter-in-law of two local artists, art has always been central to Rachael’s life, but her interest in advocating for and supporting local artists extends far beyond her home. After spending more than half a decade in unfulfilling corporate jobs, Rachael discovered that her true passion lies in helping artists network and increase their visibility. Tech savvy and articulate, Rachael has been able to harness social media to get the word out about artists in Noblesville and Indianapolis. She initiated the Noblesville Makers Meetup in 2015, an informal monthly gathering open to anyone with creative interests looking to collaborate with other artists on projects and promotion. To quote the person who nominated her, “Rachael’s heart has been only to uplift the arts community in the Nickel Plate Region by offering her strength in bringing people together with the belief that art and artists will become more established in the region when they come together in the support of one another.” Rachael accepted the position of Artist Liaison and Exhibit Coordinator at Nickel Plate Arts on August 16. Due to her current position, Rachael is not eligible to receive this award this year, but because a local community member nominated her, we wanted to recognize her achievements here.
Currently a board member at the Hamilton County Artists’ Association and the Logan Street Sanctuary, Alys Caviness-Gober is both an artist and a community advocate. Unable to sit still while organizations she loves struggle to find funding and support, Alys has jumped in with both feet, taking on innumerable projects and responsibilities. Alys loves this community and feels duty-bound to offer whatever skills, time and effort she can to seeing creative enterprises succeed. Alys’s own creativity is evident in the arts and crafts she makes on a daily basis, and her attitude is infectious. A dedicated social media enthusiast, Alys regularly cross-promotes for other artists, performers and arts organizations, and isn’t afraid to take a strong stance to keep things moving forward.
This year, Marc Feeney agreed to play a major role as the Fishers Arts Council restructured itself and set a new focus for the future. Marc stepped up as the chair of the new artist committee, a position that requires delicate balancing of personalities, interests, ideas and goals. Marc, along with other FAC board members, championed plans for the Fishers Arts Crawls and oversaw the implementation of some creative, hip new ways to engage Fishers citizens in arts efforts. His congenial attitude has helped keep people engaged and inspired through the process of change, and his peers have appreciated his efforts.
Artist of The Year:
This award will go to an artist, musician or performer living and working within the Nickel Plate Arts Region who has shown an outstanding ability to promote not only their own work, but also the artistic merits of the community at large. This award goes to someone who exemplifies the notion that a rising tide lifts all boats. This person has not only perfected their artistic technique, but also shows outstanding business acumen and customer service skills.
The nominees are:
Musician, community advocate, and business owner John Gilmore has been a humble-yet-influential member of the Noblesville Arts community for decades. His founding of the Logan Street Sanctuary brought a new, unique music venue within easy walking distance of our historic square, and his professional connections have allowed him to bring award-winning acts to our region. John has renovated the Logan Street Sanctuary as a labor of love, and has kept the doors open in spite of financial pressures, infrastructural issues and even plumbing disasters. John’s talent as a musician is well known by anyone who has encountered him playing at a local bar, restaurant or even here at Nickel Plate Arts during a First Friday. His band, Noble Roots, performs at venues throughout the Midwest. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about John’s talent is his ability to project such a compelling presence on stage, when he is such a humble and shy person in real life. His approachable, affable attitude is the perfect tool to bring people together, and his vision for a more vibrant, diverse and inspiring neighborhood is evident to all who walk through the doors of his Sanctuary.
One need only glance at the many paintings piled up in John Reynolds’s studio to get a sense of his prolific talent as an oil painter. John’s ability to capture the personality of his subjects – be it sheep, a rooster or even himself – has allowed him to also capture the notice of judges throughout the Midwest. John regularly wins awards in fine art exhibitions, including the Hoosier Salon in previous years, and has been juried in to countless galleries and exhibitions, including this year’s Indiana Heritage Arts Annual Juried Fine Art Exhibition. John has also taught drawing and painting classes over the years and has provided a great deal of professional mentorship and guidance to many emerging artists. John is one of the original Studio Artists at Nickel Plate Arts and a juried member of the Hamilton County Artists’ Association. His dedication to staying involved with local arts efforts while succeeding in making a business of his art make him and inspiration to all artists in our region.
An energetic and bubbly immigrant from Kenya, Emily Wasonga is a bastion of the Noblesville creative and business community. She not only creates beautiful works of jewelry art that she sells at her shop Loves Hangover, but she also works hard to connect with and cross-promote other creative entrepreneurs. She is happy to help support local events and projects, including the Noblesville High School Fashion Club’s first-ever fashion show this past May. She regularly provides in-kind donations to local charities and works to find ways to donate her time and energy to help others succeed. Emily’s favorite phrase is “What can I do to help promote YOU?”
With the opening of her new and improved studio space at Nickel Plate Arts in early 2016, Lelsey Haflich embarked on a professional renaissance that has taken her already-successful art career to new heights. She has branched out into new genres and styles of painting, and has exhibited her work in several area businesses and community spaces throughout the Indy Metro area, including First Presbyterian Church and Meyer Najem Construction. Lesley’s enthusiasm helped catalyze the installation of the Meyer Najem art gallery, which will be an important regional exhibition spot for years to come. Throughout these successes, Lesley has continued to be collaborative and open to promoting the community as a whole. She regularly spreads the word about Nickel Plate Arts, the Hamilton County Artists’ Association, and the CCA gallery in Carmel, including inviting Sherman Burdette from Fox 59 to do a news segment about Noblesville arts. She mentored a college student this summer who wanted more practical experience with being a professionally successful fine artist, and she has headed up an Acrylic Painting 101 class to help engage new artists and arts enthusiasts. Lesley’s positive, collaborative attitude breeds goodwill and success from which we all benefit!
Jessica Springman’s artistic energy is contagious, a fact known by anyone who has been near her as she works on or talks about one of her many amazing art projects. Her meticulously detailed abstract drawings have fascinated visitors to area galleries and graced the offices of the Indianapolis Arts Council last year. Jessica has pitched in on many projects, including at Conner Prairie. Her recent hydrophilic paint project with the Fishers Arts Council has brought a sense of whimsy and discovery to downtown Fishers. Jessica’s talent is undeniable, and her growing professional standing will help grow the reputation of artists in the Nickel Plate Arts region for years to come.
A two-time Showcase Artist exhibitor at Nickel Plate Arts, Jim Anderson has proven to be one of the most charitably minded artists in our network. His eye for abstract composition in nature has fascinated many, and his affable personality has charmed many art lovers into becoming arts patrons by buying one of his canvases or prints. He and his wife Linda travel all over Central Indiana to both promote their work and support the work of other artists. Their friendly, genuine interest in seeing others succeed is heartwarming and strengthens the efforts of every organization to which they belong.
Arts Patron of the Year:
This award will go to a person or company that has invested a substantial amount in our arts community, either through the purchase of work by local artists, contributing money to support local arts organizations and/or investing in public art within our region. This person exemplifies the concept that art makes our entire community stronger and is good for business. This person is an established figure in our arts community, as well as our business community, and those of us seeking to improve our artistic culture look to him or her for leadership and support.
The nominees are:
Anne Merrell, Ann Minnich and the Noblesville Parks Foundation
Ann Minnich, Anne Merrell and the Noblesville Parks Foundation have sought out ways to beautify Noblesville by connecting the young aspiring artists of NHS with the parks of Noblesville. They are currently planning the third Mayor’s Luncheon in support of the park and the emerging artists of our community. Each year the Parks Foundation establishes a theme that is provided to the Noblesville High School Art Department to establish original art. Students focus on this theme and construct ideas and produce original work for the Mayor’s Luncheon. Each student selflessly donates the work to be auctioned off during the luncheon to support the parks of this growing community. Last year, the Noblesville Parks Foundation established a community preview day of the artwork at Forest Park. This evening allowed parents to see and buy back the art before the event. The tireless effort put into making this event happen and striving to encourage the arts in this community are certainly two aspects that make this community strong, connected and growing.
The Legacy Fund
As long-standing supporter of creative projects of all kinds, the Legacy Fund is a critical form of financial and promotional support for many of our area arts organizations. The Legacy Fund works hard each year to advocate for the importance of arts resources in our communities. At a time when many donors want to direct their dollars towards health and human services, the Legacy Fund has ensured that creative services – those amenities that help communities stay relevant and that provide important emotional and creative outlets for a diverse population – can also receive attention and support. With an incredibly smart and savvy staff, the Legacy Fund has provided many of us with dollars, with advice, and occasionally even a shoulder to cry on as we work through the stresses of nonprofit management. Thanks to their continued dedication to helping arts and cultural organizations succeed, the Legacy Fund has set a high bar for arts patronage throughout our region.
Our Town Cicero
Our Town Cicero is a brand new community development organization dedicated to promoting businesses and amenities in Cicero. A creative and visionary team of local leaders, OTC has already begun to infuse Cicero with new spirit and vitality. With sustainability as a core ethic, this group recognizes that artists and art projects are a critical component of a town’s long-term health and relevance. This year, the group added an arts committee and has begun to explore the potential that local artists can have on the town’s identity and spirit. Our Town Cicero’s greatest impact is sure to come in the year’s ahead, but we felt that their forward-thinking strategy deserved recognition.
Mr. Muffin’s Trains
Stephen Nelson and Liz Foley are living proof that entrepreneurism and community development can go hand in hand. This couple recently embarked upon an ambitious project to bring new life to downtown Atlanta, and they have been sure to keep the voice of residents included in their plans. They are moving their large O-gauge model train display to Atlanta, Ind., into a building that they purchased and are rehabilitating with their own sweat equity. They are offering up the second floor of the building for artists to use as studio and classroom space, and expect only enthusiasm and dedication in return! The impact of this effort is sure to be more evident in the coming years, but Liz and Steve’s incredibly collaborative vision certainly makes them worthy of notice.
As part of his company’s new campus in downtown Fishers, Anthony Najem has invested tens of thousands of dollars in public art through Meyer Najem Construction. He commissioned a large, outdoor sculpture that was unveiled this June that has become an iconic part of the ever-improving Nickel Plate District. He also has purchased artwork by noted artists to display inside the building, and installed a hanging system so that the second floor of his building can function as a gallery. This gallery space, which does not have the restrictions that a government building or school might require, will be an important resource for both established and emerging artists for years to come, and it has the potential to become a vibrant community space where the business and private sectors can intermingle and inspire one another. Due to his role on the Nickel Plate Arts board of directors, he is not eligible to receive this award, but since a community member nominated him, we wanted to acknowledge his contributions.
To put it bluntly, Nickel Plate Arts would not exist if it were not for Brenda Myers. Brenda, with the help of others, envisioned a community-based arts organization that could serve six towns and help define our region. She found the funding to renovate these historic buildings. She recruited talented leaders to serve on both the board and the staff. She personally donated funds, supplies and countless volunteer hours. She has conscientiously collected local art and participated in countless creative events each year. She has thrown down the gauntlet for what arts patronage and leadership should be, and our community is much stronger, more relevant, and more fun thanks to all of her hard work and dedication. Because of her role on the Nickel Plate Arts board of directors, she is not eligible to receive this award, but since a community member nominated her, and because these awards would not be possible without her, we wanted to recognize her contributions.
Although only four people will take home the beautiful trophies that are being hand-made by artists Craig Helming and Demaris Gaunt, everyone on this list is making an incredible difference in our arts community. We hope you will join us in thanking each of these leaders, as well as the other artists, musicians, performers, administrators and art lovers who make the Nickel Plate Arts region such an amazing place.
Our review committee will select four winners from among these worthy nominees. These winners will be announced at our Anniversary Celebration and Awards Ceremony on September 17, 6-9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 317-452-3690.
Donations to Nickel Plate Arts, which are humbly appreciated and greatly needed, can be made online or by sending a check to 107 S. 8th St., Noblesville, IN 46060.
To nominate an artist or patron for this year’s Nickel Plate Arts Awards Ceremony held at the Diamond Gala, presented by Smith’s Jewelers, please fill out the form below:
Nominations will be accepted through July 31, 2022.
Nomination cards are also being mailed in our Summer Arts Guide issue for April-October 2022.
The shortlist of winners will be comprised of individuals who show outstanding leadership and vision in supporting, promoting and providing creativity in the regional arts communities our nonprofit organization serves.
Are you interested in becoming a sponsor for this event? Each person, organization and business has a thread to contribute to make the fabric of our community a better place to live. You can share your thread with us by becoming a corporate sponsor. Please email Aili McGill with your interest!