Evanston’s artistic spirit shines at Bright Night for the Arts

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Evanston art lovers enjoyed tasty desserts, chamber music and live entertainment on Thursday, November 4 at A Bright Night for the Arts, an annual event hosted by Mayor Daniel Biss and the Evanston Arts Council.

The gathering celebrated the city’s vibrant arts community and took place at the Evanston Art Center.

Tim Rhoze, one of the winners, stands between his daughter Cara Roseborough (left) and BJ Jones (right) (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Community members mingled and perused the exhibits on display, which included “Afire” by Dan Oliver and “The Resonance of Emptiness” by Indira Freitas Johnson. The caterer provided candy, the Northwestern University Medical School orchestra performed live music, and circus performers from the Actor’s Gymnasium juggled and danced on stilts.

The first speaker, Evanston Arts Council Chairman Toby Sachs greeted the crowd and presented a video created by Meleika Gardner of Evanston Live TV. The video featured local arts organizations and included clips from their directors talking about what art means to them.

Mayor Biss also stepped onto the podium, reminding the public that the arts are not just hobbies meant to occupy leisure time, but they play a necessary role in the community.

Several local arts organizations have celebrated birthdays recently. The crowd cheered as Mayor Biss called out their names, including the Evanston Children’s Choir, celebrating its 20th anniversary; the Evanston Dance Ensemble, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary; Funkadesi, who turns 25; the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, which turns 75; and the Music Institute of Chicago, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

Mayor Biss also paid tribute to Judith Cohen and Gay Riseborough, who both served two three-year terms on the Evanston Arts Council and previously served on the Public Art Committee before it was absorbed into the Arts Council. Cohen is involved in literacy, literature, and library work, and Riseborough photographed and cataloged public art in Evanston.

Left to right: Melissa Molitor, Mayor Biss, Fran Joy, Toby Sachs and Gay Riseborough (photo by Evan Girard)

Finally, Mayor Biss announced the winners of the Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, which went to Doug Hait, a photographer who put a face to the homeless in Evanston with his “See My Story” project; Tim Rhoze, who focused on bringing black theater and arts to the community as executive director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater and founder of the Evanston Performing Arts Collective; and Identity Performing Arts, an organization run by founder and artistic director Ginny Chung-Lin Lo that offers free dance programs.

The recipients were chosen from 86 nominees. The announcement of the winners marked the end of the event and community members slowly exited the building.


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