ArtsWestchester Celebrates The County's Cultural Contributions

Nothing says art appreciation quite like ArtsWestchester, a non-profit service organization that works to guarantee availability and diversity of the arts for all Westchester County residents. Every year, ArtsWestchester honors both individuals and organizations for their passion and dedication to the arts with their annual Arts Awards.

ArtsWestchester has just announced their three Arts Alive Artist Grantees and their eight Arts Awardees—and we’re proud to say one of them is a Westchester Magazine contributor. The artists will be honored on April 8 at a luncheon at DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown.

Here is a breakdown of the Arts Alive Artist Grantees and Arts Awardees:

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Arts Alive Artist Grantees:

Photographer John Rizzo
John Rizzo will produce a documentary and photo exhibition, “Westchester Warriors,” about soldiers living in Westchester County. His work has also been featured in Westchester Magazine914INC., and Advancing Care in the Hudson Valley, and on the covers of Washington Post Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, and Newsweek.

Dancer and Choreographer Debralyn Press
Debralyn Press has choreographed, performed, and directed many productions on stage, in video, in film, and on television. Press will create a new dance piece, “Color of the World” which will have an anti-bullying message.

Visual Artist Esther Lo
Esther Lo is a multi-faceted artist and has been devoted to sculpture since 2013. “Faces and Identities” will be a series of clay bust sculptures that she will create with her grant. This will represent community members of diversity.


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Arts Awards Recipients:

The Emily and Eugene Grant Arts Patron Award:

Donald Cecil, in memory of Jane Cecil
Donald and Jane Cecil have been extremely devoted to the arts in Westchester. At SUNY Purchase they established the “Jandon Business of the Arts Distinguished Lecture” series and have contributed to the Adopt-a-Dancer program. They also have supported the Neuberger Museum of Art, which now has the “Writing Through the Arts” program.


Ray Blue: photo by Gulnara Khamatova; The Rye Arts Center: photo by Leslye Smith; The City of Yonkers: photo by Christopher St. Lawrence


The Arts Organization Award:

Historic Hudson Valley
The Historic Hudson Valley serves as a major tourism destination at five National Historic Landmarks in Westchester. Their sites host educational programs for students in kindergarten through high school and also host other public programs such as internships and site-tours.

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The Community Awards:

Sills Family Foundation
This foundation has provided for and made a difference for senior citizens and children. It provides creative opportunities and has brought an after-school program to WestHab PEAK, where kids get to creatively explore and express themselves.

The City of Yonkers
Plans have been set to repurpose loft buildings in the Nepperhan area, and create an urban heritage waterfront sculpture. The city is quickly becoming very popular amongst the younger demographic, and in recent years has been the target for public art, music, and theater organization’s artistic revitalization efforts.

Katonah Museum Artists’ Association
For more than 25 years, Katonah Museum Artists’ Association (KMAA) has supported the local artistic community with exhibition opportunities at many community venues. KMAA’s annual exhibitions at Northern Westchester Hospital enhance the healing environment and bring joy to their patients and staff. Additionally, KMAA supports the programs and exhibitions of the Katonah Museum of Art and has partnered with various community arts organizations.  


The Sophia Abeles Education Award:

Musician Ray Blue
As the Music Director of Cross-Cultural Connections, Ray Blue has provided Peekskill children the opportunity to enjoy and learn about the arts, through workshops, school residencies, and classes. Blue is also a New York Blues Hall of Fame inductee, whose eclectic sound has landed him performances at major music festivals.


The Education Awards:

Musician Fred Smith
Fred Smith, the former musical director for the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band, has performed with the likes of Houston Person and Hugh Masekela and has backed vocalists such as Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte. Additionally, Smith lectures in schools and conducts workshops focused on the history of jazz in America.

Rye Arts Center
Rye Arts Center (RAC)’s offers consistent STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) classes and workshops, to about 17,000 people. This dedication to the combination of the sciences and are resulted in the opening of a “maker space” that allows visitors to explore science and technology combined with art to spark creativity and innovation.

Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

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