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People enjoy the festivities at 2018's Celebration of the Arts in Howard County. This year's gala will be Saturday.
People enjoy the festivities at 2018's Celebration of the Arts in Howard County. This year's gala will be Saturday. (Howard County Times file)

The Howard County Arts Council will host the 22nd annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County on Saturday, March 23, from 6 to 10 p.m.

This fundraiser for the arts council, at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Center, brings together business and civic leaders, politicians and arts patrons for a dinner that is followed by a program that includes Howie Awards for career achievement and also a Rising Star competition for young adult performers whose careers are just getting started.

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Among the recipients of Howie Awards this year is Brenda Kidera, who was named Outstanding Artist. Originally a graphic designer, she is an artist working in watercolors and oil paintings. In addition to exhibiting her own work and belonging to a number of regional arts organizations, she is a longtime teacher both at her home studio in Woodbine and also with the Howard County Recreation and Parks department. Kidera’s husband, Ed, is a professional sculptor.

Brenda Kidera
Brenda Kidera (Gwen Kidera / Courtesy photo)

“The fine art took over from the graphics and now I have been doing this for 36 years,” said Kidera, 59. “We have somehow cobbled together an unusual lifestyle.”

The Howie Award for Outstanding Arts Educator goes to David Matchim, who has been director of bands at Centennial High School since 2011. His achievements there include doubling the size of the band program. In doing so, he devoted a lot of time to finding ways in which elementary and middle schools could better serve as “feeder” schools for his high school’s band program.

David Matchim
David Matchim (Chris Marcinek /Courtesy photo)

“There was a disconnect, because of lot of kids were not coming into the high school (band program), and those that were here were not staying with it,” said Matchim, 35, who lives in Oella. “What was missing was a sense of community for students. It’s a social experience, and it’s all about creating an environment to make them feel comfortable.”

Matchim recently received a nationally prominent award when he surpassed more than 1,000 other candidates and was named as Music & Arts Music Educator of the Year for 2018.

The Howie Award for Outstanding Business Supporter of the Arts goes to HorseSpirit Arts Gallery owner Robin Holliday, 57, who lives in Columbia and is herself an artist. Holliday first opened her gallery in 2013, moved to Main Street in Ellicott City in 2015, was hit hard by the floods there in 2016 and 2018, and then relocated her gallery to Historic Savage Mill last November.

Holliday’s Ellicott City gallery had 1,400 square feet, but her gallery now occupies 3,500 square feet in Savage Mill. She looks forward to showcasing local artists there, including Brenda Kidera, who has a solo exhibit at HorseSpirit on March 31.

“I knew instantly after the second flood that we were leaving. The most difficult thing was leaving the people I was close to in Ellicott City,” Holliday said. “But I feel very welcome at Savage Mill.”

This year’s Howie Awards also include a special Legacy in the Arts Award to the late Fern Eisner, who died at age 77 last June. She and her husband, Arie, moved to Columbia in 1968 and raised three children there.

“We fell in love with Columbia and got involved in so many different things,” Arie Eisner recalled. “We were young and adventurous.”

Fern Eisner co-founded the Columbia Folk Dance Group, and was a founding member of the Columbia Cooperative Gallery and the Women's Gallery.

Fern Eisner
Fern Eisner (Howard County Arts Council)

A writer and photographer for the Columbia Flier and Baltimore Sun, she also worked on her own as a photographer who specialized in photos of families and especially children. She also took and exhibited photos of subjects ranging from notable buildings in Columbia to life at a truck stop in Jessup.

“With her photography, she had the ability of connecting with kids and young adults. She had the ability to make a connection with just about everybody,” Arie Eisner said.

Also, Theresa Colvin, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, will be given the Coleen West Leadership in the Arts Award. Her previous positions include being executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council; and serving as deputy director and acting executive director of the Howard County Arts Council.

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Robin Holliday
Robin Holliday (Brian Krista / BSMG)

Besides the Howie Awards, the program includes a Rising Star competition featuring live performances. A $5,000 cash prize will go to the winner selected by an audience vote.

This year’s Rising Star contestants are Haerin Jee, for violin; Curtis Bannister, for musical theater; Min Sang Kim, for classical voice; Tae Ho Hwang, for saxophone; L'abri Trio, for instrumental ensemble; and Kate Jackman, for classical voice.

Honorary chair for the evening is Mary Kay Sigaty, a former Howard County Council member and an artist. The event emcee is Joseph Ritsch, producing artistic director for Rep Stage.

The Howard County Arts Council’s Celebration of the Arts in Howard County is Saturday, March 23, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Center, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkwwy in Columbia. Tickets are $100 and $50. Call 410-313-2787 or go to hocoarts.org.

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