Friday, November 20, 2020

2019-2020 Parish President's Arts Awards

 The 14th annual Parish President's Arts Awards were held Thursday evening, Nov. 19, 2020, at the Koop Drive Trailhead Pavilion, with John Snell as master of ceremonies and Mike Cooper as presenter of the awards.

Eight individuals and two companies were honored in ten different categories. Recipients were chosen by the St. Tammany Parish Commission on Cultural Affairs, many members of which were present for the occasion. 

Click on the images to make them larger.
(Photo: St. Tammany Parish Government)

Honorees were Mel Rogers for Performing Artist, Gretchen Armbruster for Visual Artist, Mike Artell for Literary Artist,  Lee Hicks for Musical Artist, Abita Brewing Company for Culinary Artist, Painting with a Twist for Patron of the Year, the late Gardner Schneider Kole for the President's Award, Lesslee Fitzmorris Mitchell for Native Son Award, Kim Bergeron for Outstanding Service Award and Patricia "Pat" Clanton for Lifetime Achievement Award.
(Photo source: St. Tammany Parish Government) 

Mel Rogers, at right, gets his award from President Mike Cooper
Lee Hicks, at right, gets his award from Mike Cooper 

Each recipient was given a chance to tell about themselves, their vision, their accomplishments, and their hopes for sharing and developing talents in others. They all gave encouraging messages about the talent of St. Tammany residents.



Her sons Pete and Chris Schneider accepted the President's Award for their mother Gardner Schneider Kole, who died last January

Mike Cooper, Chris & Pete Schneider 
(Photo: St. Tammany Parish Government)

 Click here for link to YouTube video of Schneider brother's comments.


 Mike Artell, the winner of the Literary Artist recognition, is an award-winning children’s author/illustrator and TV cartoonist. He has written more than 45 books (most of which he has also illustrated) and he has created greeting cards, posters and editorial cartoons for some of the country’s most well-know publishing and media outlets. 


The success stories of Abita Brewing Company and Painting with a Twist were particularly fascinating, given the unforeseen national success of the businesses.


David Blossman
President, Abita Brewing Co.

Painting With A Twist won the honor for Patron of the Year.

 Painting With A Twist Table Guests at Awards Ceremony
Photo: St. Tammany Parish Government

Lesslee Fitzmorris Mitchell was commended for her work with the NFL pregame shows and the New Orleans Saints Saintsations and Cheerleaders. She told the exciting story of her work with the NFL as well as her family background and the highpoints of growing up in St. Tammany Parish.


Kim Bergeron won the Outstanding Service Award for her many arts related promotional events in Slidell. 
Cooper presents Kim Bergeron with her award 
Patricia Clanton was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. In her talk, she spoke of Columbia Landing, her family, her theatrical background and her work as executive director of the chamber of commerce and the first woman elected to the Covington City Council.
Pat Clanton

------------------------------------- has a great article about Mel Rogers and Lee Hicks (both music teachers in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System) at THIS LINK.

Lesslee Fitzmorris Mitchell was interviewed several years ago at THIS LINK

Pat Clanton's life and community achievements can be found at THIS LINK.

Gretchen Armbruster was profiled by Edge of the Lake Magazine. CLICK HERE.

Parish President Mike Cooper

 Music for the event was provided by former students of Lee Hicks' Fontainebleau High School Jazz Band.
They were Adrian Rotondo-McCord, Ford Lambert, Clark Lambert and Lee Lambert.

 Members of the St. Tammany Parish Commission on Cultural Affairs are Laura Prisco (Chair), Kelly Elliott, Lisa Barnett, Jennifer Bushnell, Dr. Charles Caplis, Sharon Delong, David Grouchy, Dr. Sue Osbon and Karen Vander. The mission of the St. Tammany Commission is to enrich the lives of the citizens of St. Tammany by nurturing, sustaining, and enhancing the arts. 

 The Commissioners (Photo by St. Tammany Parish Government)

Also in the audience was Mary D. Lee of Mandeville who was appointed to the Louisiana State Arts Council. She has been chairman of that group since 2015. The former Parish President Pat Brister appointed Mary Lee to the State Arts Council to represent St. Tammany Parish. The Louisiana State Arts Council (LSAC) is a volunteer body appointed by the Governor. The LSAC meets quarterly to address arts related issues of importance to the state as well as having the authority to approve all grant awards made by the Louisiana Division of the Arts.


The awards were created by Solange Ledwith of Swamp Girl Glass Blowing in Slidell.

After the awards event, attendees were invited to walk through the nearby Children's Museum of St. Tammany for a look at the new exhibits and facilities.


See also:

Erica Spindler, Internationally-known Author 

Parish Recognizes Talented Art Program

Ray Perer, Tapdancer and Showman 

Sal Impastato, Lacombe Chef

Link to STPGov Facebook Page Article