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Awards And Ribbons

The Marblehead Festival of Arts Ribbons and Awards

Each year the Festival judges the many submissions to its exhibits and grants ribbons and award to deserving artists.  These ribbons include, Best of Show (BOS), Outstanding Work (OSW), and Honorable Mention (HON) as well and the special recognitions mentioned below.  Festival attendees also get to vote for their favorite piece of art in each exhibit, except Writer’s World,and that piece is given the People’s Choice Award (PCA).  Below are short descriptions of the special award that are given to those Marbleheaders who contributed so much to the Marblehead Festival of Arts and the support of art in the community.


Lee Smith Memorial Award (LSMA)
Lee R. Smith was an artist, teacher, and graphic designer. His life drawings and portraits, which spanned the 35 years between 1945 and his death in 1980, elegantly memorialize him in the homes and hearts of many in Marblehead and elsewhere. Lee created a spectrum of works, from formal finished portraits to the 30-second teaching sketches he made for his students. He left an art legacy enriched by his skill as a teacher and as a professional graphic designer. Smith’s artistic skills and enduring love for the Festival were honored in July 1981, one year after his death at the age of 52, in a special retrospective exhibit of his work. The 1981 Festival Program said of Smith, “He loved the Festival and the people of the Festival. That he should be remembered by this retrospective show and that an annual award be established in his honor would have moved him to tears.” The first Lee R. Smith Award, which was selected by members of the Smith family, Festival representative Gail Turner, and Marblehead artist Sally Low, was given during the 1981 Festival of Arts and is now awarded annually as part of the Festival’s Drawing Exhibit.

Mixed Media

The Don Howard Award in Mixed Media (DHA)
Don Howard brought an uncommon artistic perspective to the Festival.   His brightly colored, unique pieces were the inspiration to create the newDon Howard 2 award category of Mixed Media. His work is easily recognized by his skillful, playful use of a wide variety of materials:  paper, paint, images, text, and found objects.  His own artistic career did not formally begin until later in life. After working many years as a successful and well traveled management consultant, at the venerable age of 59 ½, with the encouragement of his wife, Bonnie, he enrolled in the Museum School of the MFA. There he reignited his childhood love of making art and found his unique expression as an outsider artist.  His creativity is inspired and supported by his spiritual life.

The Mixed Media Award is given to an artist who shows the mastery and mystery in combining a variety of media.  Don says:  “A mixed media artist has absolute freedom of expression; is someone who does not get stuck on a table looking like a table.”


The Edward D. Carey Memorial Award (ECMA)
The Edward D. Carey Award is given to a watercolorist in memory of the accomplished watercolorist and teacher who wanted “people’s eyes to be opened to art.” Carey loved being a painter and a teacher and he loved the Festival because he thought it was a unique way of getting a lot of people exposed to art. His energy for making art accessible to young people and for allowing them free rein in exploring their own artistic potential were his gifts as a teacher. Carey’s enthusiastic work with the Festival of Arts began in the 1960s and continued into the 1970s, a period during which he was a Festival exhibitor and a Board Member. Carey was a high school art teacher and Program Administrator for the Arts in the Marblehead school system. The High School’s art center, which he helped plan, is named for him. The first Edward D. Carey Award, established through the efforts of his friends and family, was given during the 1979 Festival of Arts and is now awarded annually as part of the Festival’s Painting Exhibit.


The Samuel D Chamberlain Award (SCA)
Samuel Chamberlain was an accomplished artist, teacher and author. He was gifted in lithography, etching, pencil drawing, drypoint, and photography; and he authored over 70 books, including his illustrated autobiography, Etched in Sunlight, published in 1968. In the early 1920s, after having studied architecture at MIT, he found his artistic home in the graphic arts, which brought him numerous prizes and awards, both here and in Europe. In the late 1930’s, he took up photography and published a series of books on early American architecture and furniture. The Samuel Chamberlain Memorial Award, established by Reporter Publishing Company and Forumgraphics, was given during the 1975 Festival of Arts and is now awarded annually as part of the Photography Exhibit.

Photojournalism Award (PA)
The Photojournalism Award is awarded for a photograph with informative content and emotional impact including human interest, documentary and/or spot news. It is meant to demonstrate the capture of a “moment in time.” The journalistic value of the photograph as well as pictorial quality is considered by the judges.


Beverly Seamans Award (BSA)
The late Beverly Benson Seamans was an accomplished sculptor, who drew her inspiration from animals and children. From a young age, growing up in Cohasset, she loved the feel of clay in her hands andwinslow1 molding it into shapes. After graduating from Milton Academy and attending Sweet Briar College, Beverly studied sculpture with Peter Abate at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. Later, she studied life drawing with George Demetrious.

Beverly had some exciting commissions, including one for the American Cathedral in Paris and the five-foot drummer boy inspired by the Spirit of ’76 painting in Marblehead for the new high school. At the Marblehead Festival of Arts, she won many awards in the Sculpture Exhibit. Among other affiliations, she was a Copley Society sculptor. Her works are in private collections both in this country and abroad and are on display in numerous museums and public buildings.

Seamans’ works were sculpted with scientific accuracy while retaining the essential spirit of each species. Her castings were in ceramic, marble, silver and bronze. She said, “My inspirations come from the world around me. My goal is to give life to each animal, bird or child. I want to capture a moment in time and their individual personalities and characteristics. Sculpture for me is a celebration of life.”

The Beverly Seamans Award is to be awarded, if deserving, to an artist entered in the Sculpture Exhibit, whose work best exemplifies the classic skills, spirit and, if possible, a subject choice of animals or children.

Senior Art

Louise Remick Brown Award (LRBA)
Louise Remick Brown was an accomplished artist and co-creator of the Senior Art Exhibit. She was passionate about art, about the people who created it, and about the community in which she lived. In 1986, she joined the Festival as an exhibit sitter. She actively supported senior participation in the Festival and, with Chairpersons Ruth Whitty and Shirley Kupka, went on to establish the Senior Art Exhibit. Louise died in 1996 at the age of 78. The first Louise Remick Brown Award, established and selected by her family, was given during the 1996 Festival of Arts.

Louise practiced her art as actively as she supported it. She studied drawing throughout her life, and she filled the walls of her homes with prints, photographs, drawings and paintings. She developed a great love for and skill with needlepoint, and she exhibited it on an ongoing basis at the Rusty Rudder, a Marblehead artists’ cooperative.

Her retirement allowed her to plunge herself into the artistic and intellectual life of Marblehead. She became active in the Friends of Abbot Library as well as the Rusty Rudder and the festival, and in 1993 became a board member of the Marblehead Council on Aging.

Retirement also enabled Louise to produce her artistic tour de force. With her daughter-in-law, Kathleen A. Burke of Marblehead, a former president of the Marblehead Festival of Arts, Louise needlepointed a set of dining-room chair seat covers based on the Jazz series of Henri Matisse. The project was the subject of a Boston Globe profile June 12, 1987, and two of the chairs were exhibited in the Festival of Arts’ Handcrafts Exhibit in 1988.

In many ways, the Matisse seat covers gave form to Louise’s curiosity, her imagination, her vitality and her vision. These qualities of hers so engaged her friends and family. And through this award, they continue to do so every year, in the form of the piece of art that earns this prize.

The winner of the award is chosen by Louise’s son and daughter-in-law, Ralph Brown and Kathleen Burke, longtime MFoA supporters. Here are the criteria they developed for the first award in 1996:

First, it had to be good art. Louise insisted on good art.
Second, it had to have a connection with the region. Louise cared very much for her community, and the art that was important to her reflected that.
Third, it had to show a spirit, a unique view, a special, new way of seeing the world that surrounds us in this special place.


Ruth and Bob Sinclair Award (RBSA)
The Bob & Ruth Sinclair Award is awarded to a senior photographer in memory of Bob and Ruth Sinclair, multi-talented individuals who loved the Marblehead community and its residents. Bob, who was a photographer, woodcarver, folk art painter, and teacher, left a wealth of knowledge to be carried on through his many students. In 1975, he was the recipient of the first Samuel Chamberlain Award. Ruth, a photographer and painter, also won awards and ribbons for her work. Together, they actively supported senior participation in the Marblehead Festival of Arts, and Bob often served as a member of the Senior Art Exhibit committee. The Bob and Ruth Sinclair Award was first presented in 2006.

Writer’s World

Georgette Beck Award (GBA)
Georgette Beck was a poet, playwright and novelist, a five-time recipient of Writer’s World awards for poetry and short stories, and has been recognized by Writer’s Digest for her Essays. Her novel, The Song of Sylvania Square, was published in August of 2012. She is a long-time member of Marblehead’s Mugford Street Players, as both actor and director. Her original scripts have been performed in surrounding communities over the years. This award is given by the MFoA for the Mugford Street Players in recognition of their appreciation and admiration for her many talents. selected by judges designated according to the rules of the Marblehead Festival of Arts with the award criteria to include a Writer’s World play or prose submission which exhibits the wit, insights and humanity” as personified by the work of writer, playwright, actress and director Georgette Beck of Marblehead.  The award will include a ribbon consistent with the Festival’s award practice as well as a cash prize of $250.00 dollars as funded by the Mugford Street Players of Marblehead.

Marcia Doehner Memorial Award (MDMA)
Marcia Littlehales Doehner was an accomplished poet and English teacher at Marblehead High School. Her poem Arachne won the 1988 Best of Show in the Writer’s World poetry category.  In 1989 and 1990 she served as Co-Chairperson of Writer’s World.  The following year the Marcia Doehner Writing Center in Marblehead High School was founded in her honor.  Her poems , many of which were published in Marblehead Magazine are filled with vivid imagery and revolve around themes of childhood and family, nature and travel. They reveal a keen understanding of human connections and an ever-present sense of humor.  Se died in 1991 at the age of 53,  A collection of poems, A Season for Flying was published posthumously. The Marcia Doehner was founded by her parents, sister and friends as a lasting tribute to a beloved teacher and poet.

Youth and Student

Debra and Jack Highberger Award (DJHA)
The Debra and Jack Highberger Award, initiated in 2012, may be awarded annually to an artist entered in either the Youth or Student Art Exhibit whose work demonstrates a love or commitment to art and a proficiency and depth of theme, message or evoked emotion that transcends his or her chronological age.  With a education in early childhood development as well as fine art, Debra Highberger founded the Acorn Gallery School of Art to foster children’s involvement in the arts.  Debra studied painting independently and worked as a portrait artist in Ulm, Germany.  While in Europe she traveled through France, German and Switzerland painting landscapes.She is affiliated with the Acorn Gallery School, the Agora Gallery(NYC) and Boston Art Inc.  Debra has exhibited in Spain at the Museo de las Americas (Madrid), the Palacio Lizarde (Barcelona and  the Museo de Bella Artes (Seville). Upon her return to to the States, she apprenticed  with Joseph Luongo and studied figures and foundations of painting with Jack Highberger, Jack received his BFA in painting from Boston University, attended Graduate seminars with Philip Guston and studied at the Art Students League in New York,

The Nordia Kay Award (NKA)
The Nordia Kay Award was established and has been endowed by the Kay Family to identify and give recognition to a young artist whose work demonstrates special promise as reflected in their creativity, 20130328_HG_IMG_2531design, use of color/black and white and the overall application of the selected medium. They feel this award could add a significant population of artists to the family of artists now reflected in the Festival.

Nordia Kay decided she wanted to be an artist at the age of 1o and followed this dream throughout her entire life.Her father took her to classes every Saturday morning when she was young.  She qualified for and graduated from the prestigious New York City High School of Music and Arts.  She majored in art at Queens College and went on to earn a Master’s Degree  in Art Education at the Columbia University Teacher’s College.
Nordia brought her life long passion for art to Marblehead in 1968. While raising her family she continued to grow and demonstrate her talents as a water colorist, teaching others along the way with her special style. She has been a treasured award winning artist, festival participant and enthusiastic supporter 20130328_HG_IMG_2540throughout these many years. 30 years ago, Nordia paired with Herb Goldberg to initiate the annual Herb/Nordia art piece for the MFoA Art Auction and has raised thousands of dollars for the festival. Her move to Marblehead in 1968 significantly expanded art related opportunities.  In addition to raising her family, Nordia found the time and energy to paint.  Tim Kleinman and the Arnould Gallery provided commercial outlets for her work.  She attended workshops locally and in Vermont, New Mexico and Florida to improve her technique and to expand her styles. She held painting classes in her home and taught watercolor classes at the JCCNS for over 30 years.  She and Herb Goldberg initiated the now iconic Herb-Nordia collaboration.