From the Sun Journal -
Communities become vibrant and exciting through the cultural riches they offer, and an artistic environment is born of excellence in art education, artistic endeavors, and support by those who value the fine arts. Craven Arts Council will recognize some of those contributions through its first-ever Bernie Awards on Saturday evening during a Wine Tasting Event at the Craven Arts Festival.
Winners for the premiere event include Janet Francoeur, Dawn Pollock, Dr. Jim Congleton, and Mimi and Charlie Sforza.
The work of Francoeur, named Outstanding Artist, celebrates New Bern and can be found in homes and business both here and throughout the country. Originally from Michigan and then Colorado, Francoeur moved with her husband, Michael, to New Bern in 1989, where she began capturing the downtown area’s grace and charm in watercolor, oil, and clay.
Carolina Creations, founded by the couple in 1990, quickly became a favorite place for locals and tourists alike to shop.
“Jan’s gallery was the first to really invest in downtown New Bern; in effect, she was instrumental in creating the city’s art district,” said Carol Tokarski, executive director of Craven Arts Council and Gallery.
|Bernie Award - Raku bear by Jim Bisbee|
Pollock, Outstanding Arts Educator, has been inspiring and encouraging Craven County art students for 27 years. For the past 15 years, she has taught at New Bern High School.
“In addition to being a great teacher, Dawn is somewhat unique in how she also teaches her students how to give back to the community,” Tokarski said.
Pollock’s students created more than 100 bowls for Religious Community Services’ Empty Bowls project. Each year, they also contribute to Habitat for Humanity’s Chair Project. Online comments from students include: “She is very knowledgeable in art and clearly has a passion for it.” “I love her class, and I will miss her. She is like a mom to all of us.” “…we did a lot of fun projects. I loved her class and requested her for next year.”
Congleton was awarded Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts.
“When I first came to New Bern in 1989, Jim was an important supporter of the Arts Council, and when I returned to become executive director in 2004, nothing had changed,” Tokarski said. Craven Arts Council’s permanent collection of fine art, now on display at Craven Community College, began with Congleton’s Purchase Award made during the Council’s 2008 Juried Art Show. He has hosted Arts Council events at his home, was one of the original sponsors for works on display at New Bern’s Sculpture Park, and commissioned “Spider Lily,” New Bern’s first major contemporary sculpture.
Outstanding Volunteer was presented to Mimi and Charlie Sforza, volunteers for more than two decades at Craven Arts Council.
“Among other volunteer activities, Mimi and Charlie have literally worn every costume this Arts Council needed, including the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter,” Tokarski said.
The couple coordinated the effort of preparing the Arts Council’s newsletter, Luminary, and for the past eight years coordinated the monthly volunteer schedule for docents in the Gallery.