Portsmouth Area Arts Council To Host Celebration of Portsmouth Arts

Wayne Allen

June 1, 2013

The Portsmouth Area Arts Council invites community residents and guests to a special celebration of the arts in Portsmouth and Scioto County from 7 – 8:30 p.m. on June 8 at Shawnee State University’s Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. Hosted by PAAC, “A Town and Its Artists: Awards for Artistic and Creative Excellence” will pay tribute to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the Portsmouth community over time.

Based on nominations submitted by local individuals and groups, awards in six categories will recognize artistic excellence, philanthropy, community involvement and contributions, and arts education.

Three levels of tickets are available for the evening celebration: upper tier general admission, $10; lower tier seating and program listing, $25; priority seating, listing in the program and entry to a reception for patrons and award recipients in the Howland Recital Hall following the presentations, $50. All tickets may be purchased through the Vern Riffe Center box office.

Mary Smalley, who observes her “Diamond Anniversary” of teaching piano to hundreds of students and adults this year, will receive the ACE Award for Arts Educator during the festive evening program. A West Portsmouth resident, she began teaching piano students in her home in 1953 and continues to do so today. Her nomination applauds her for teaching an untold number of individuals who never became great pianists but whose lives were enriched by learning and appreciating music and for her influence on numerous students who went on to use their music to touch the lives of others directly. During her long career, Smalley also served as an accompanist for Portsmouth West High School choirs, taught at Notre Dame Elementary and served as organist for churches, playing at hundreds of weddings and funerals.

The ACE Individual Artist Award will go to Lucasville artist Don Blevins. A graduate of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute College of Architecture and practicing architect in Seattle, Washington for most of his career, Blevins left that profession to dedicate himself to the study and implementation of art on a full-time basis. He was nominated for an ACE award for his contribution in developing the visual concept for the Boneyfiddle Art Center. “On an extremely limited budget, Blevins created and built a space which allows the art of our community-based artists to be displayed with warmth and serenity,” his nomination says.

The Port City Pub and its owners John and Barbara Hogan have been chosen for The Business Patron of the Arts ACE Award. The Pub’s nomination cited the establishment not only for its true Irish flavor as a venue for good food and beverages, but also for its social and comfortable atmosphere which encourages guests to discover their “inner Irish” through the literary and performing arts. The Hogans present weekly live musical presentations including Appalachian, bluegrass, Celtic styles and open jam sessions, in addition to Open Mic Poetry Nights, the annual Robert Burns Dinner, professional storytellers, local playwrights and authors, and Cirque d’Art Theatre Irish dances, among other attractions.

Chris and Marilyn Lute have been selected for the ACE Patron of the Arts Award for their long-time support of the arts in Portsmouth through contributions of time, effort and financial resources. Chris has served as a Southern Ohio Museum board member since 1990 and president of the board for two years. He is currently co-chairing the museum’s alley renovation project and serves on the museum’s “One Grand Plan” Fundraising Committee. A former school teacher, Marilyn has used her educator’s background as a member of the Portsmouth Area Arts Council board and has served on the Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association board since its “Community Concert Association” days. Both Lutes have given their talents and generous financial support to Shawnee State University, other community arts organizations and artists.

The ACE Nonprofit Arts Organization Award will recognize the Southern Ohio Museum for over three decades of remarkable, diverse programming and enduring contributions to the community through partnerships and collaborations with other organizations. Through exhibitions of important temporary exhibitions and related educational programs, four permanent collections of universal interest, school tours, a variety of performing arts programs, artist residencies, lunch-time lectures and other events, the museum offers entertainment and education for all ages. With the addition of Cirque d’Art Theatre as an educational residency program in 2001, the Southern Ohio Museum provides performing arts experience and opportunities for everyone regardless of ability to pay, and directly involves at least 29,000 participants and visitors to its numerous arts programs each year.

The “Town and Its Artists” celebration will also feature the announcement of the Portsmouth Area Arts Council’s selection of a community arts leader to receive the first-ever Robert A. Fuller ACE Award, named for a founding member of PAAC and given at PAAC’s discretion to an individual or organization that embodies Fuller’s spirit and dedication to the arts.

Portsmouth Area Arts Council board has chosen the title “A Town and Its Artists” for the June 8 awards program in memory of the 1968 “A Town and Its Artists” festivities which inspired the formation of PAAC and an explosion of arts activity in Portsmouth that has grown steadily over the past 45 years.

The Portsmouth Area Arts Council was originally founded in 1972 with the goal of bringing together the arts community and celebrating the arts heritage of the Portsmouth area. PAAC’s mission has evolved over the years and now focuses primarily on integrating the arts into the lives of children and families through theatre programming.

Further information about “A Town and Its Artists” may be obtained by contacting PAAC Executive Director Becky Lovins at (740) 351-3642 or