Artist, jazz musician to receive arts council's top awards

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Jerry Ford performs with the Jerry Ford Combo during the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department's monthly dance at the Arena Building on Thursday, August 16, 2007. (AARON EISENHAUER

Jackson landscape artist Vicki Outman and local jazz legend Jerry Ford will be honored with the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri's top awards this year.

The arts council will present Outman with its Otto F. Dingeldein Award and Ford with the Jeff McGuire Friend of the Arts Award at its annual meeting Friday, to be held at the River Campus. The awards will be presented during a reception at the convocation center prior to the performance of the Southeast Missouri State University musical "Big River." The reception is open to the public, but tickets are required.

The Dingeldein Award is given each year to one or more local people who have had a great impact on the local arts community over a long period of time. The award is named after the arts council's founder.

The McGuire Award is given to an individual, organization or business that supports the arts and the arts council's efforts to promote the arts, and is named for deceased Cape Girardeau arts patron Jeff McGuire.

In past years, the arts council has kept its picks for the awards secret until the awards are presented, but the council is revealing the winners early this year to encourage interest in the Friday reception.

Vicki Outman

Carol Sparkman, chair of the council's board of directors, said this year's awards are really lifetime achievement awards for two people with long histories of work benefiting the local arts community.

"They have stimulated the creativity of others and have inspired the imaginations of generations," Sparkman said of Outman and Ford. "They are both very talented, highly regarded individuals who have given so much back to their communities."

Outman is a former educator who still teaches as a substitute and makes visits to Saxony Lutheran High School as a guest artist. Saxony art teacher Brenda Seyer nominated her for the award. It was Outman's passion for arts education and her volunteer work that prompted Seyer to nominate her and the arts council leadership to select her for the organization's highest honor.

"Mrs. Outman is constantly looking for new ways to promote the arts in the area and, when one is found, follows up on making it happen with hours of her time," Seyer wrote in her nomination letter.

Outman was unavailable for comment.

Ford was nominated by fellow musician Narvol Randol Jr., who cited Ford's mentoring or students and "charitable efforts through music" during his 50-year musical career as reasons for the nomination.

"I would like to say that probably nobody (not even Jerry) realizes how many times he has offered his services at no charge to further a worthy cause," Randol wrote.

Over the course of his half-century in music, Ford has become one of the most respected and visible local musicians and has devoted time to teaching talented student trumpet players for free and playing charitable events, like the annual "Christmas Story" concert at Cape Bible Chapel, with his Jerry Ford Orchestra.

Ford said he appreciates the recognition but that he never even thought about winning such an honor.

"All of the things that I've done over the years in terms of music and promoting the arts have been done basically out of the love that I have for the arts and the love of music performance," Ford said. "But it's nice to be recognized for your contributions."

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