Video playlist: Highlights from ‘Celebrate the Arts’ 2016
By Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty thinks the arts are worth paying for. And he thinks developers should do some of the paying.
Receiving an award as “Outstanding Arts Advocate” this week, the Mayor said he will explore ways to tap builders to create recurring support for the arts.
It would be an extension of his “One Percent for Art” program, which began when a re-developer agreed to pay up to $100,000 for public art at the future home of the Fox Rothschild law firm on Market Street, as a condition of town approvals.
“I will always be an advocate for arts. And this is just the beginning,” he told fellow honorees Wednesday at the Bickford Theatre for the annual Celebrate the Arts event hosted by Morris Arts.
“We are going to try to get a recurring income for the arts in our developments. Why not? We can do so much with people who make millions of dollars in our backyard. Why can’t we funnel some of that money to the arts? It will be great for the arts in Morristown and the surrounding towns.”
Morris Arts Executive Director Tom Werder, who recognized the Mayor for his annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival and for One Percent for Art, was excited about the possibility of expanding that program.
“The next natural step is to imagine ways that funding public art can continue after the development is completed so there is an ongoing sustainable investment in the arts in town. Morris Arts looks forward to being a part of this exploration,” Werder said.
Other honorees at Celebrate the Arts included Vicki and Charles Craig, whose annual Art in the Atrium exhibition in Morristown has become New Jersey’s largest showcase for African American artists.
They started the venture 24 years ago after observing that no black artists were included in a countywide art show. A number of artists promoted by the Craigs have gone on to national acclaim, with exhibitions in elite galleries and museums.
Danielle and Chris Merzatta of Merzatta Jewelry were named Outstanding Arts Professionals for launching a successful business during the recession by crafting artworks that are both profitable and made from sustainably sourced materials.
Danielle movingly cited her grandparents, seated in the front row, as living reminders about the true value of art.
“In their 90s, married 69 years, Grandma’s jewelry collection is still evolving. They’ve been speaking to each other through objects for seven decades. And the jewelry box that stands in the wake of that marriage is a remarkable thing.
“There is legacy in it, history, heartbreak, upgrades, travel, loss and love.
“And Margaret Reinhard’s jewelry box taught me how powerful these artful objects will be in decades to come,” said the Morristown High graduate, who flew back from a show in Texas for the ceremony.
Andrea Lekberg, owner of The Artist Baker and former pastry chef at the Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, was celebrated for “Creative Placemaking” — opening her bakery courtyard to aspiring sculptors.
Paula Davidoff and Carolyn Hunt, co-founders of Girls Surviving, a teen program in Morristown, took honors as Outstanding Educators. Mondelēz International, makers of Snickers and Ritz Crackers, was named Outstanding Corporation for supporting Morris Arts’ Pumpkin Illuminations and other events.
And a pair of West Morris Mendham High School seniors — composer Zach Catron and artist Tyler Harker — went home with scholarships of $5,000 and $1,500, respectively.
Before performing a spring-themed medley on guitar, 2006 scholarship winner Alex Wintz advised the teens to embrace the moment.
“As you continue to grow into the professional realm of the arts… always remember there’s going to be times that aren’t so great,” said Wintz, a Morristown native trained at Berklee and Juilliard.
“But if you stop yourself and think what you’re doing for a living, that changes everything. When those times happen, just remember that.”