Howie Awards honor artists, supporters
When poet, writer and photographer Linda Joy Burke first arrived in Columbia, she was a 17-year-old college student and fledgling artist. She soon thrived by connecting with other artists and launching a career related to the arts.
Burke, now 65, received a Howie Award for Outstanding Artist from the Howard County Arts Council in early October. Howie Awards are presented to local artists and art-focused businesses at a gala each fall.
“It was overwhelming and lovely,” Burke said. “I have a lot of gratitude for this community.”
Burke was inducted in 2013 to the Howard County Women’s Hall of Fame, and received the Poetry for the People Baltimore Legacy award in 2004. In 2002, she received Towson University’s Distinguished Black Marylander award.
Recently, Burke read her work on “The Poet and the Poem,” a radio show sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by poet laureate Grace Cavalieri.
Burke is involved in many projects, including co-hosting the Wilde Readings Literary Arts series and serving as a fiction reader for the second iteration of Little Patuxent Review.
“When the Review originated back in the late 70s, I couldn’t get published in it,” Burke said. “I was so mediocre, knocking on everybody’s doors and getting very little publication. Now I’m in a different stage of my career.”
Burke has also run workshops and residency programs for diverse audiences. She has served on literary advisory panels for the Maryland State Arts Council and testified on behalf of the Howard County Arts Council.
“The Howard County Arts Council is wonderful, and I don’t think the general public understands what impact it has for us,” Burke said.
“They have given grant funding to Little Patuxent Review, to Jambalaya [a festival Burke had helped plan], and to teaching projects I’ve been involved with along with other artists. If it weren’t for those entities, we wouldn’t be able to do as much work.”
Burke spends as much time teaching and helping other writers as she does writing for herself.
“My personal writing career has grown, my performance career has grown, but also that connection [has grown] with the larger community, which has been important to me since I was a kid,” she said. “It’s not just about me and my work; it’s about how I can make the community better,” she said.
Leaders focused on the arts
The arts community in Howard County might not be so strong if not for Liz Bobo and Lloyd Knowles, who both played an instrumental role in the development of the 40-year-old Arts Council. In recognition of their work, they were named honorary co-chairs of the Arts Council Celebration of the Arts gala this year.
Bobo, the first female County Executive in Maryland, made the arts a priority during her tenure. With help from developer Jim Rouse, she ensured that the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School was designed according to professional standards and could be used for private performing arts groups.
A former chairman of the Howard County Council, Knowles wrote the legislation that established a private nonprofit arts agency and enabled the Howard County Arts Council to make decisions about how to distribute funds allocated to the arts.
“We wanted to make sure the politics and politicians were out of the role of deciding who would get the money,” he said.
Bobo, 78, and Knowles, 87, who are married, “both really love the arts and are very grateful for how well they’ve thrived here in this local community,” Bobo said.
“I truly believe art feeds our souls. I can’t remember any time in my life of 78 years that it’s been more important than it is right now that we have access to good arts, to good music, to good poetry, to good dance, to help us through these incredibly difficult and tragic times,” Bobo said.
“The arts enrich and heal us as a community.”
World-class concerts in Columbia
Longtime Howard County residents Philip and Linda Press were delighted to receive the Legacy in the Arts Award this year. Both have played a vital role in the Howard County arts community: Philip, 79, as one of the founders of the Candlelight Concert Society (CCS) and Linda, 78, as a beloved visual artist.
“In previous years, this award has gone to people who have been very important to making contributions to the arts here in Howard County, so we feel privileged to be included among these folks,” Philip said.
Linda, whose cityscape paintings have been exhibited throughout the county and beyond, credits Howard County for providing invaluable support as an emerging artist. Today, the Arts Council is helping Linda expand on her talents with the classes and workshops they offer, particularly in portraiture, a new genre for her.
“It’s nice to visit with other artists and have a place to develop these kinds of skills,” Linda said.
Learning portraiture has been a tremendous challenge, Linda said, but her mother always told her to learn something new every day. “She did that, and she lived to be 99,” Linda said. “She’s my role model.”
Philip fell in love with the depth and personal nature of chamber music in the early 1970s, when attending Candlelight Concerts organized by several private music teachers in the county.
When the teachers could no longer keep the concerts running, community volunteers took over. Candlelight Chamber Music is now in its 48th year.
Philip served as treasurer for more than a decade and as president on two occasions. He now serves the organization as director emeritus.
“Over the years, we grew the organization to bring world-class musicians to our series,” he said. Performers have included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Richard Goode and major string quartets from across the globe.
One reason they were able to bring such noteworthy artists, Philip said, is Howard County’s supportive community. “We had some musicians back several times because they love our audiences,” Philip said.
A gift for bringing people together
Another community member who helped promote the arts, Phyllis Madachy, received a posthumous award for Outstanding Community Supporter of the Arts.
Throughout her decades-long service with the Department of Aging, Howard County Executive Council and the Arts Council, Madachy received many local, statewide and national awards, according to Sharonlee Vogel, immediate past president of Howard County Arts Council.
It is because of Madachy that Vogel became involved in the Arts Council. “She knew I was a visual artist, and she knew my facility for running meetings and bringing people together,” Vogel said.
Madachy, who died last year, had a broad network of people throughout the community, and she connected people who might benefit from knowing each other.
“She was a builder of relationships, a builder of organizations, and a builder of the community,” Vogel said. “She brought synergy to everything she touched.”
Because of her remarkable skills, Madachy tried to fully retire several times but would then get asked to help with various projects.
When describing Madachy’s ability to connect people in the community, Vogel said she was in some ways an artist herself: “She put pieces together, and the pieces she put together created a beautiful mosaic for everyone else.”