Arts council helps arts community thrive

A tear came to the eye of local sculptor Chris Wubbena as he accepted the Otto F. Dingeldein Award for artistic achievement last weekend.

The tear was for local artist and former winner of the same award, Brenda Seyer, but also for the arts community as a whole, which the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri helps cultivate.

"It brings all these people together to celebrate not just art, but us. The community," he said.

Sue Burton Cole was named Friend of the Arts. Cole was unable to attend, but it was noted that as a supporter of the arts she had a tendency to buy pieces, especially if it would encourage a new talent.

In accepting the award on her behalf, he brother Vance Combs, explained that when she could no longer live independently, many of the pieces she'd purchased were given away to friends. Last weekend, "Fireflies" by Paul Jackson, sat on a table near the front that she gifted to her friends at the Arts Council.

Congratulations to both Wubbena and Cole on their awards; you've certainly improved the Southeast Missouri art community.

Joining that community, and also sure to make a difference, are the Arts Council's new director, Sara Moore, and gallery manager, Bri DeWitt.

Moore recently took over for executive director Murielle Gaither, who left after five years to serve as managing director of her family's business Merriwether Investments Inc.

DeWitt has worked for the gallery for over a month, taking over as gallery manager after Liz Montgomery moved to the St. Louis area.

"Both have served the Arts Council with professionalism, talent, enthusiasm and commitment to mission of the organization. The accomplishments of Murielle and Liz during their tenure have been recognized and greatly appreciated from the board of directors, members, artists, educators and the community at large. The board wishes both well on their future endeavors," board member Mark Welker wrote in an email.

Murielle and Liz' contributions are appreciated by the arts community, and we look forward to seeing Sara and Bri as they work in their new roles.