Art Every Week

Sherrie Schwoerer, left, of Samsula works on her project with others during Wheel Throwing with Andres Montenegro at Jane's Art Center in New Smyrna Beach on Friday, Feb. 12.

You can celebrate everything art related for ArtsWeek Volusia Feb. 19-28.

“Every year ArtsWeek Volusia includes art openings, music events, theater, film and this year is no different,” said Bryce Hammond, president of the Volusia County Cultural Alliance and a K-12 Art Curriculum Specialist for Volusia County Schools. “The VCCA looks forward to celebrate arts and culture from all across the county. “

The alliance awards celebration, honoring Sally Mackay and Cathy Berse, will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Jane's Art Center, 199 Downing St., New Smyrna Beach. It will be followed by an Art Gallery Stroll.

Volusia County Schools Performing Arts has arranged for Spruce Creek High School Jazz band to entertain during the awards ceremony.

Also, an advocacy and funding workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, 352 S. Nova Road, Daytona Beach.

The alliance is a non-profit network of community cultural organizations, individual artists and local businesses, all committed to the development of the arts in Volusia.

“Our VCCA Events committee worked hard to think ‘Out of the Box’ this year to make sure our annual dinner and awards presentation would stay alive during this unusual year,” Mr. Hammond said. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate our annual award winners for 2021. We look so forward to having our VCCA board, members and guests celebrate another year of service and avocation for culture in Volusia County.”

Ms.Mackay will be presented the Tippen Davidson Award to recognize her leadership and long-standing support of cultural endeavors in Volusia County.

She was born in the United Kingdom, but has lived in New Smyrna Beach since 1973. In the 1970s, she met Doris “Doc” Leeper and joined in the effort to make the Atlantic Center for the Arts a reality. In the 1980s she met and became a friend of composer, teacher and pianist Dr. Harold Blanchard. As a teacher and musician, she began giving guitar lessons, ultimately opening The Music Studio on Sam’s Avenue for guitar, piano, mandolin and ukulele.

Ms. Mackay served on the New Smyrna Beach Planning and Zoning committee and the Volusia County Growth Management Committee, providing strong support for the Volusia ECHO and Forever initiatives.

She was elected mayor of New Smyrna Beach in 2007 and was convinced art and cultural events would draw people to the Historic Downtown and investment in the arts would improve the quality of community life.

Thanks to the efforts of herself and co-founders Susan Ellis and Susan Stern, The Hub on Canal opened March 1, 2012, providing a downtown arts center.

The award, Ms. Mackay said, “is a huge honor and to me it’s a community honor because everything I’ve done has been in order to enhance New Smyrna Beach.”

Ms. Berse will be honored with the Brady-Coolidge Art Ambassador Award, named for Ann Brady and Jennifer McInnis Coolidge, and recognizes extensive ground-level work in local arts and culture in Volusia.

Ms. Berse is a 32-year resident of New Smyrna Beach has worked as a graphic designer, teacher and muralist. Through her volunteerism she has clocked thousands of hours at Artists’ Workshop, Atlantic Center for the Arts and The Hub on Canal.

She spearheaded the ACA New Smyrna Beach Middle School Art Outreach Program and has been an integral member of many plein air events.

Her work has been commissioned by National Parks, and can be found in corporate collections, private homes and public places, including The White House before being passed on to the Bush Library in Texas.

Ms. Berse said she has been an artist “as long as she’s been alive”.

She does plein air landscapes on canvas, she said. “I paint what I see.”

She hopes ArtsWeek will help more people understand art.

“A lot of people will buy pieces just to decorate their house rather than buying a piece that might bring an emotion out of them,” Ms. Berse said.

She is limited in part of her arts mission because of Covid-19 keeping her out of the schools.

“I think I got more out of it than the kids sometimes” she said. “I really want to give credit to all the people who helped me over the years in this job for the kids. They were all so willing to share.”

Besides helping with arts and culture resources, the alliance also tries to serve as a liaison to government and civic groups, recognizing and honoring cultural leaders, and providing forums and workshops.

Some of the alliance's funding comes from the Florida “State of the Arts” auto license plate. For more information, visit volusiaculture.org.

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