Gloria Zigner, Douglas Rankin and Elizabeth Turk move in different worlds but have, in their own ways, made a mark on the Orange County arts scene.
Come September, all three will be recognized at the 13th annual O.C. Arts Awards in Costa Mesa as recipients of the Helena Modjeska Award, a lifetime achievement handed out by Santa Ana-based nonprofit Arts Orange County, the ceremony's host whose mission is to promote the arts countywide.
"It is our premier award," said Richard Stein, Arts O.C. executive director.
The ceremony will be at the Samueli Theatre on Sept. 18. The Modjeska Award recognizes an extraordinary contribution to arts and culture demonstrated during one's life by a leader, artist, educator or philanthropist, Stein said.
When she's isn't covering the O.C. cocktail circuit as the society columnist for Orange Coast magazine, Zigner, a Newport Beach resident, has served as the force behind the CHOC Follies.
Since 1997, this zany but annually changing series of musical comedy productions has been a communal effort, mostly put on by an all-volunteer cast of O.C. residents. They aren't afraid to dance, sing and don over-the-top costumes on stage, while pledging to raise at least $1,000 each for the Children's Hospital. Throughout the years, the Follies has raised more than $5 million for CHOC.
The 15th edition of CHOC Follies, dubbed "Christina and the Crystal Ball: A Cinderella Story for the Social Net set," just wrapped up a four-show run at Orange Coast College and is expected to net more than $500,000 for the hospital. It featured send-ups of celebrities such as Lady Gaga (played by Juliet Fischer-Schulein), Charlie Sheen (Steven Chavarria) and the Cuban-American rapper Pitbull (Shawn Hoctor).
Zigner came up with the idea while serving as director of the CHOC Foundation in the mid-1990s. The first CHOC Follies starred O.C. philanthropist Julianne Argyros, and the Follies director, music director, choreographer and costume designer have stuck by Zigner since.
"I am humbled by it — it's such an honor," Zigner said of this week's Modjeska Award announcement.
Rankin, president and chief operating officer of the Irvine Barclay Theatre, is marking the 25th anniversary of his association with the theater, which opened in 1990.
The Irvine Barclay now is an acclaimed regional venue that presents eclectic programming, which ranges from classical dance to modern dance to foul-mouthed improv puppet shows. On Wednesday night, the theater presented the West Coast premiere of a Blues Brothers revival show imported from Britain.
Rankin was recruited in 1986 to head up an effort to bring a performing arts venue to Irvine.
In an interview on Thursday, Rankin said he gave up the security of a long-term job in Illinois, where he had successfully led an effort to restore the historic Woodstock Opera House, to head west to sow cultural and artistic seeds in Irvine.
"Not a chance," Rankin said when asked about whether he had envisioned staying in O.C. for long. "I would have bet against it."
As to being named a recipient of the 2012 Modjeska, he said, "I wasn't expecting it."
Turk, a 2010 MacArthur Fellow whose main studio is in Santa Ana, is a multifaceted artist known for her intricately carved marble pieces, which are shaped like ribbons or resemble collars and vertebral cages.
Turk was unavailable for an interview Thursday.
In other news, Stein said that Arts O.C. is still taking nominations for its 2012 Annual Achievement Awards.
Nominations can be made through May 1 for arts-related achievements accomplished between Jan. 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012, in three categories: Individual Artist (visual, performing, or literary artist); Arts Philanthropist; and Arts Organization.
For more information and to obtain a nomination form, go to http://www.artsoc.org/awards.htm.
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