2017 Stars in the Arts
Myra Janco Daniels | Carmelo Blandino | Marissa Collections
Matthew Kragh | Schrenk Family Foundation
Judy Evans –A long time Collier County resident who developed, implemented and directed a pre-K violin/music literacy program called “MusicScores!” This program enables children from low-income environments to master skills required for kindergarten.
Muffy Clark Gill –Award-winning artist who uses mixed media, photography and batik to create images that are lushly detailed and full of life. Her paintings have been widely exhibited throughout Florida and nationally, and she currently serves on the Public Art Advisory Committee for the City of Naples.
John McKerrow –Founder and producing artistic director of Shakespeare in Paradise, bringing Shakespeare to the community and our schools. McKerrow coaches high school students in Shakespeare competitions, and is a performer and director with The Naples Players.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office –Creator of the CommUNITY Gallery in 2010 in partnership with local nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for Collier County residents. The gallery provides these organizations an opportunity to showcase their services and often exhibits artwork created by their clients.
Gulfshore Playhouse –In its 11th year of Equity professional dramatic theater in Naples, Gulfshore Playhouse stages both theater classics and new plays and hosts an annual New Works Festival. It has also created an extensive children’s theater program.
The Naples Ballet –Promoting cultural enrichment and inclusivity by creating awareness of dance within the Naples community. The Naples Ballet’s mission statement includes performance and class opportunities for dancers of all ages. It also offers free professional dance instruction through scholarship funding while serving as a training ground for local dancers considering a professional career in dance.
Susan H. Earl –Susan is a supporter of the Naples Art Association, United Arts Council, Baker Museum of Art at Artis —Naples, Artis—Naples, ArtsNaples World Festival, Friends of Classic Chamber Concerts and The Naples Players. She served on the Naples Art Association’s Board of Directors and volunteered at the von Liebig Art Center.
Terry & Bob Edwards – The Edwards have underwritten numerous art exhibitions locally and regionally. Bob has been on the Board of Directors of Artis—Naples and the campus’s Baker Museum of Art; the Naples Art Association; the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy; Sculpture Magazine and the International Sculpture Center. Terry has served on the Friends organization of the Baker Museum of Art and is involved in the planning of many arts fundraisers.
Ron Jamro – Ron is the Director of the Collier County Museum. He has expanded the Collier County facility from a building with 1,500 square feet to a five-acre historical park complex with satellite museums in Everglades City, Immokalee and the Naples Depot. He has written several articles and books about local and regional history.
Sandi & Tom Moran – Tom and Sandi are long-time supporters of the United Arts Council of Collier County and founding patrons of Opera Naples, the area’s first and only regional opera company. Tom is a member of the Big Cypress Sub-Committee of the South Florida National Parks Trust. Sandi is the past president of the United Arts Council of Collier County and has served as chair of the Opera Naples Building Campaign fund.
Aimee Schlehr – Aimee has been the Executive Director of the Naples Art Association at the von Liebig Art Center since 2012. In this role, she serves as spokesperson for the Naples Art Association and seeks to connect art with the community.
Gulf Coast Big Band – The Gulf Coast Big Band has been performing since 1991. It plays big band and jazz standards to the delight of thousands at Sunday afternoon concerts in the park at Cambier Park in Naples. The Band plays a wide range of music from traditional swing and blues to bebop and Afro-Cuban.
Linda Cummings – Linda currently serves as the Fine Arts Coordinator for the Collier County Public Schools and is a champion for the arts in our schools. She has been on the CCPS staff for 10 years, and previously worked for the Bonita Springs Art League. Linda taught school in Minnesota for 13 years, and was named Minnesota’s Middle School Art Teacher of the Year. She has initiated numerous collaborations in music and art between CCPS and nonprofit arts groups. Linda oversees annual student art shows and Honors Concerts for band, orchestra and chorus. Although she plans to retire in May, she will leave behind a rich legacy of devotion to the arts.
Mally Khorasantchi – Mally is a professional artist, whose colorful canvases are in private collections all over the world. She has studied with many of the top artists in the country. Her works have been shown in galleries and exhibitions at numerous locations, including New York City, Palm Beach and Dusseldorf. Several of her works were selected for exhibition in the Tampa International Airport. Mally served six years on the board of directors of the United Arts Council and was board President in 2011-2012. She is a graduate of the Greater Naples Leadership program and active in their cultural program.
Jon and Sonja Laidig – The Laidigs are long-time residents of Marco Island who have a commitment to philanthropy and preserving the island’s history. Their initial donation of $1.5 million to the Marco Island Historical Society resulted in the establishment of the Marco Island Historical Museum. Without this gift, the museum probably would not have been built. Additionally, the Laidigs donated $500,000 to an endowment for the Historical Society to ensure ongoing support for the island’s history and the Museum.
Megan McCombs – Megan has been the director of The Naples Players children’s program, KidzAct, for eight years. She is devoted to the theatre, having been an actress, director, playwright, and program manager. Under her leadership, KidzAct enrollment grew to 600+ students annually. Megan expanded the program to include taking theatre into the schools, where 2,000+ children will be served. KidzAct presents six full stage productions each year.
Holocaust Museum & Education Center – Established in 2001, the museum promotes understanding and respect. The Center houses a permanent exhibit including many artifacts and original photographs related to the events of, and people impacted by, the Holocaust. An average of 5,000 visitors come to the museum annually. Their educational programs reach an average of 15,000 students each year, and include a student art contest and teacher training in the humanities.
Naples Botanical Garden – In just five short years, the Naples Botanical Garden has grown to be one of the leading cultural organizations in Collier County. The Garden is a community gathering place that features special events, musical and theatre performances and traveling exhibitions. From the welcoming tile mural to plein air painters, this world-class paradise combines the arts, tropical gardens and restored natural habitats. They have partnered with several local arts and cultural nonprofits, including the current partnership with the Baker Museum featuring sculptures by Hanneke Beaumont.
Glenn Basham has been the Concertmaster at the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra for twenty years. In this role, he serves as spokesperson for the orchestra and chorus, and is a music teacher.
Dallas Dunnagan has been the Artistic Director for the Naples Players for 12 years. She has directed more than 150 plays and musicals for one of the most successful community theatres in the country. Dunnagan is responsible for all theatrical programming year-round, and also teaches classes in directing, acting and auditioning for the group.
Eva Sugden Gomez is a supporter of Opera Naples, the Philharmonic Center for the Arts and the Naples Players. She is the underwriter for a musician in the Philharmonic Orchestra. Her substantial contribution to the Conservancy helped establish the Sugden Gomez Environmental Planning Center. A championship ballroom dancer, Eva has competed at the national and international levels. A gift from her family helped build the Sugden Theatre in downtown Naples where The Naples Players now perform.
Chuck Gottschalk has served as the General Manager of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra for 20 years. He started as a musician and has been serving in orchestras in for 48 years. He is the conductor of the youth orchestra, meeting with talented young artists weekly.
Known as a “power couple” in the arts, Simone & Scott Lutgert are recognized for their philanthropic work in the community. Simone is currently a board member of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’mon). She chaired the very successful capital campaign to build C’mon. Scott served for several years on the board of directors for the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
Jack O’Brien is curator for the Naples Art Association. He oversees exhibitions at The von Liebig Art Center and the Association’s collection of nearly 200 works by Florida artists. Jack has judged local and state art competitions. He chairs the City of Naples Public Art Advisory Committee and has been a grant panelist for the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
James Cochran is founder and director of the Philharmonic Center Chorale. He is the resident organist for the Naples Philharmonic Center, and is the director of the Philharmonic Youth Chorale. He also serves as the director of music at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church. James organizes the annual Naples Organ Festival, and teaches and mentors many young local performers.
Brian Holley is the executive director of the Naples Botanical Garden, where he leads a team that has created a world-class garden. He expanded educational programming at the Garden, established college internship programs, and strengthened partnerships with universities and local organizations. Brian also served two terms as chairman of the Collier County Arts Forum. Prior to moving to Naples, he was executive director of the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
William Noll serves as the artistic director for Classic Chamber Concerts and the Fifth Avenue Chamber Orchestra. He is the founding artistic director for the ArtsNaples World Festival organization. A veteran performer of classical and jazz piano, William has performed and conducted with orchestras all over the world. He is an advocate for music education and has hosted many fund-raising events for local charities at his home. He also serves as the entertainment director at the Naples Ritz-Carlton Resorts.
Peter Thomas has had a distinguished career in radio and television as a broadcaster and narrator. Many have heard his voice in national TV commercials, and he has narrated several award-winning documentary films. He has done voice-over work for many local charities, including the United Arts Council and The Phil. Peter is on the board of directors for the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida and the Naples Historical Society. A decorated World War II veteran, he has won numerous awards locally for his philanthropic work.
Richard Tooke served as president of the Friends organization at the Naples Museum of Art for over two years. He was the driving force behind the Museum’s “Have A Seat” and “Incognito” events. Richard also founded the Young Professionals Evenings at The Phil. He is an avid art collector, and supports many of our local artists. Prior to moving to Naples, Richard worked for 30 years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Naples Concert Band is celebrating their 40 thseason of entertaining Naples residents and visitors. The all-volunteer band has 90 members, and attendance at their free outdoor concerts averages 3,000 in season. Over the years the group has awarded more than $80,000 in student scholarships. They assisted the City of Naples with fund-raising efforts to build the bandshell at Cambier Park that many local performing organizations now enjoy.
Kristen Coury is the founder and Artistic Director of Gulfshore Playhouse. For over six years, she has been a passionate advocate of professional local theatre and educational opportunities. Starting from scratch, she has built Gulfshore Playhouse into a respected force in the local arts community. Coury has enjoyed a successful career as a director and producer both in New York and Naples . She has directed feature films and theatre and produced a music CD. She has worked for Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Company and London ’s Shakespeare Company. Coury was named one of the “40 Under 40” list by Gulfshore Life magazine and is listed in “Who’s Who of American Women.”
Mark Danni is a director, musician and conductor – however, he is first and foremost a teacher. Danni teaches drama at The Community School of Naples and is the first teacher to receive a Stars in the Arts award. In addition to teaching, he serves as Director of Performing Arts at the school. He has taught and mentored many talented students, including American Idol finalist, Paige Miles. Danni is also the Founding Artistic Director of TheatreZone, a professional Equity theatre company, and is an enthusiastic champion for local theatre. His career started in New York City as a drummer on Broadway (Chicago, Grant Hotel, Miss Saigon). Danni was the conductor for the national tour of Les Miserables. He continues to tour as a conductor and drummer, and has played with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
Donna Fiala is a Collier County Commissioner and a long-time advocate for the arts. She was one of the founders of the Bayshore Arts group, which set up a gallery there as revitalization of the area began. The group now includes the performing arts and has expanded its vision to create a cultural center in the Bayshore area. Fiala was the inspiration behind pursuing the “Cultural District” designation with the Bayshore CRA. She is serving as Honorary Chair of the Bayshore Festival of the Arts this year. Fiala was one of the key supporters of the 2002 “Cultural Assessment” project, the only comprehensive research into the impact of the arts in the county. Funding was secured for the project through her leadership, and its results still guide cultural planning in the county today. Fiala is an ex-officio board member for the United Arts Council, and devotes her time to many other civic and community organizations.
The Naples Music Club, founded 45 years ago, continues to fulfill its mission of supporting music education and performance. The Club presents high quality musical events for a variety of audiences and enables its members to develop their talents. They also provide awards and scholarships to local music students and collaborate with other local music organizations. Outreach programs include support of FGCU’s Music School; organizing student recitals to provide public performance opportunities; providing seminars and master classes; and arranging for mentors for student musicians. S ince 1970, they have awarded $420,000 in scholarship money to over 600 promising middle and high school music students. They are a past recipient of Education Foundation’s “Outstanding Partner in Education” award.
For five seasons, Opera Naples has thrilled audiences as Southwest Florida’s only professional opera company. Every year they produce operas in a variety of styles and engage the nation’s finest singing actors, stage directors and guest conductors for principal roles, while encouraging talented local performers. Their mission includes being “an integral part of the community, further enriching local artistic culture, drawing from the community in order to give back to it.” Community education programs include the “Young Artists” and “Student Apprentice” programs, along with in-school mini-performances. They offer free student matinees, and at least one family-friendly opera, sung in English, every season at affordable prices.
Patty and Jay Baker are known as the one of the area’s premier “power couples” for community service, especially in the arts. They are avid art collectors and strongly support the performing arts. In 2007 they received the “Outstanding Philanthropists” award on National Philanthropy Day. The Bakers donated $10 million to the Naples Museum of Art, which was re-named in their honor. Jay Baker has served on the board of directors for the Phil. Patty Baker is on the board for the Naples Players, where she serves as Fund-Raising Vice-President.
Myra Daniels is the chairman and CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, home to the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Naples Museum of Art. Daniels founded the complex in the mid-1980s and has been a leader and innovator in the local arts community. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her community service including the Naples Daily News’ Jefferson Award.
Harriet Heithaus is an award-winning writer, editor and advocate for the arts. She currently serves as the Arts, Entertainment and At Home Editor for the Naples Daily News. She also is a classical music critic for the paper and serves on the editorial board. She won the William Allen White award for editorial writing and the Florida Press Club’s first-place award for arts criticism in four of the last five years.
Dr. Erich Kunzel served as the principal pops conductor of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra before his death last year. He was the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, received the National Medal of Arts, appeared on eight specials on PBS and in ten Carnegie Hall concerts. At the time of his death, he was leading the campaign to build a cultural arts center in Bayshore.
Peg Longstreth is the owner of the Longstreth-Goldbert Art Gallery. She is also an accomplished writer. Peg is a well-respected music critic and her reviews have appeared in the Naples Daily News and the Naples Florida Weekly newspaper.
Toby Blumenthal Phillips and Bert Phillips
This dynamic duo founded Classic Chamber Concerts, Naples premier chamber music series. Before Bert’s recent passing, he was a tireless partner with Toby in efforts to strengthen the arts community in Collier County. They have always been passionate about music education, volunteering their time to entertain and teach young musicians in their public school programs. They also founded an international music camp in New York.
Bette Young is a past president of the Naples Art Association. She was instrumental in getting the current home for the Association built – the von Liebig Art Center. She worked tirelessly for six years to raise money and plan the building. She is a watercolorist and remains active in the NAA.
Dr. Ron Doiron
Artistic Director and Conductor for The Bach Ensemble, Dr. Ron Doiron also serves as director of music for a local church. He has held positions in vocal and sacred music throughout the U.S., and served on the faculty of Duquesne University. He is a published author and served on a national board for the Directors of Music Ministries. An organist, choirmaster and musical conductor, Ron is an active member of The Bach Ensemble and the Naples Opera Society. He teaches and coaches many of Naples finest young vocalists.
A life member of The Naples Players, Ted Tobye served as president of the organization for seven years. During his tenure, he managed the planning, financing and construction of the Sugden Theatre as a permanent home for The Naples Players. He has worked behind the scenes and served on numerous committees for the Players over the past 20 years. The Tobye Studio at the Sugden Theatre is named in Ted’s honor.
An early pioneer in the development of The von Liebig Art Center, Elaine Vreenegoor served several terms as president of the Naples Art Association (NAA). She one of several people credited with helping to raise the money needed to open the Center. Still an active artist, Elaine is still involved in the NAA. She is also currently serving as president of the Art Council of Southwest Florida.
Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus
A part of our cultural community for 30 years, the Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus is dedicated to preserving the barbershop harmony style of a cappella singing. Nearly 100 members strong, the chorus, smaller ensembles, and quartets provide wholesome entertainment throughout the community, including performances for shut-ins, hospital patients, retirement communities, their annual show and hospice patients. They provide scholarships for students to further their vocal music education and are involved in numerous charitable endeavors.
Banow currently serves as Producer/Director for WGCU’s arts and cultural programming, including Arts Edition Prime Time and other specials. He has over 40 years experience in broadcasting and theater. While at CBS News Special Events, Banow received a Directors Guild Award for Apollo 11, The First Lunar Landing and various Emmy nominations and awards. He finished his television career at CNBC. Banow has served on the board of the Naples Players where he has directed and volunteered in many positions. He is on the board for Gulfshore Playhouse and advisory boards of the Holocaust Museum and the Estero Art Council. He is a founding member of the Naples Press Club.
Dr. Ron Bowman
A respected arts educator, musician and volunteer organizer, Ron Bowman is known for his leadership in our local arts community. He is the president of the Naples Opera Society, served two terms as chairman of the Collier County Arts Forum, and is a past board member of the United Arts Council. A talented classical pianist, vocalist and music lecturer, Bowman has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, numerous choral societies, in recitals, and with Opera Naples. Professionally, he is the Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students at International College, where he teaches music appreciation and has taught for ten years in the Francis Pew Hayes Center for Life Long Learning.
Betsey & Al Harris
Widely recognized as a “power couple” in the arts, Betsey & Al Harris are both patrons and volunteers for several local cultural organizations. Al served on the board of directors for the Naples Art Association. Betsey has served on the board for Classic Chamber Concerts and is the president of their Friends group. The couple has made significant donations to The von Liebig Art Center, where a gallery is named in their honor. In addition to these leadership roles, they are avid art collectors and their home is filled with the works of many local artists.
Long involved as a volunteer leader with the Naples Players, Jim Rideoutte became their Executive Director in 2000. He has been instrumental in establishing a substantial endowment fund, and leading the Players to become one of the most successful community theaters in the country. He played a key role in the founding and growth of the popular KidzAct children’s theater program. Rideoutte has served in leadership positions in numerous civic and social agencies. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Community Foundation. An active participant in the Arts Forum roundtable, he is always willing to assist leaders of new local arts organizations.
One of the most notable sculptors of true life bronzes in the U.S. today, Naples resident Kathy Spalding’s works can be found in prized collections throughout southwest Florida and beyond. She is noted for her fine detail and renowned for her sculptures of wildlife. She has been generous with her time and art, donating works for numerous charitable endeavors, especially to The Conservancy and Rookery Bay. Spalding designed the original “Gators Project” for the Naples Art Association. Her sculptures are the newest addition to NCH’s Garden of Hope and Courage.
Art League of MarcoIsland
For over 35 years, the Art League exemplified its mission of “promoting education in and appreciation of excellence in the arts.” This non-profit arts organization is an influential member of the island community, respected for its programs and services. Over 100 courses are offered and numerous fine art gallery exhibits are held annually, in addition to the annual Celebrate the Arts Festival. Outreach programs include an annual scholarship program for high school students, arts education for home-school students, year-long visual arts education programs for young aspiring artists and after-school programs. Member services include classes and workshops, docent tours, studio tours and a corporate sponsorship program.
Naples Art Association
An integral part of the local arts scene for over 50 years, the Naples Art Association (NAA) is a well-respected leader in the community. Founded to create and exhibit work, members have built a world-class organization of over 1,500. NAA is housed in a spectacular facility in downtown Naples, The von Liebig Art Center, with two spacious galleries featuring changing exhibitions of contemporary American art and member works and classrooms that are the site of hundreds of workshops, lectures and classes for adults and children. Their popular ARTSCool summer program attracts over 800 children. The NAA sponsors the Naples National Art Festival, one of the top 11 shows in the nation. Outreach programs include scholarships and school partnerships.
Popular local painter who has called Naples home for over 30 years. Arsenault’s paintings are immediately recognizable for their vivid colors, unique light and rhythmic design. He opened the Arsenault Gallery in Old Naples in 1991, and also operates a gallery on Nantucket. The recipient of numerous awards, Arsenault has paintings in permanent collections in galleries and corporations across the country. He is also known for his generosity in the community, and over the years has donated numerous paintings to local charities for auctions.
Acclaimed local artist whose works have been exhibited in major venues nationally and internationally. Green earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Chicago and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in fine art from the University of South Carolina. He has published two books and received numerous awards, including the History Makers Award in the Fine Arts in Chicago. Green recently collaborated to bring his artwork to life in Off the Wall and Onto the Stage which was performed locally at the Phil and at numerous venues across the country.
Mary Margaret Gruszka
A long-time force in the Naples cultural community, Gruszka is Cultural Arts Services Manager for the City of Naples. She is a former board member of The Naples Players. A former president of the United Arts Council, Gruszka has worked for the City of Naples for 19 years, overseeing the opening of the Norris Center and development of its performing arts calendar.
Arts patron extraordinare, Naples resident Olga Hirshhorn is a long-time supporter of the local arts community. She and her late husband, Joe, donated portions of their world-class collection to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Locally, she recently donated her collection of works by local artists to the Naples Art Association. She is a patron of both the Philharmonic Center for the Arts and the von Liebig Art Center. Hirshhorn also serves on Florida Gulf Coast University’s Art Advisory Board.
J. William Meek, III
Long-time community arts leader, Meek is owner of the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples. He assembled significant art collections that were early donations to the Naples Museum of Art and the von Liebig Art Center. Meek is a member of the board of directors for the Naples Art Association and served as the president of the Collier County Arts Council. He has received numerous local and national awards, including the New York Artists Equity Association’s annual award for contributions to the visual arts.
This year’s nominations included one for a student who has amassed significant credentials at the young age of 16. To salute her early leadership, the selection committee awarded a special Student Star to Kylen Moran. Kylen is a junior honor student at the Community School who began playing the violin at age six. She is a founding member of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Philharmonic Youth Chorale. She has performed with the Naples Players Kidz Act program and the Florida All-State Orchestra. Kylen has been a top scholarship winner in the Naples Music Club for four years. She is an active volunteer in the community and serves as a mentor in the Miracle Project after-school program, where she assists with helping children learn the violin at Lake Park Elementary School .
World-renowned photographer whose works chronicle America ’s ecosystems; Clyde is the only Collier resident in the State of Florida ’s Artist Hall of Fame.
Andrea Clark Brown
Accomplished musician and popular local architect who designed the Sugden Theatre.
The Art League of Marco Island’s early pioneer who has served as league president, board member and faculty member; also active in the Marco Island Film Festival.
Delores and John Sorey
John Sorey serves on the board of directors for The Naples Players and the Naples Zoo. Delores is vice-president of Classic Chamber Concerts and works with OperaNaples and ArtsNaples World Festival. John serves as an ex-officio advisor to the board of the United Arts Council, and Delores is a past president of the Council. Both are also involved with the Naples Art Association.
Dolph von Arx
Arts patron and member of the board of directors of The Philharmonic Center for the Arts; represented southwest Florida on the Florida Arts Council.
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts
Setting the standard for excellence in Collier County since 1989, The Phil is home to the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, the Naples Museum of Art and the Lifelong Learning Center.
Classic Chamber Concerts
Celebrating their 10 th Anniversary season of delighting chamber music lovers throughout Collier County and performing for local school children.
The Naples Players
For 52 years, the Players have entertained Collier County audiences; they now provide 200 performances annually and oversee the popular Kidz Act youth theatre.