TPAC hosts Arty Awards for Topeka community artisits

The fourth annual “ARTY” awards were held on August 30 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. Represented among some of the nominees were current and former Washburn artists and patrons of the arts.

The theme of the awards show was 1980’s retro and pop music from the decade was piped throughout the theater as guests entered. Nominees were served a Latin dinner by one of the new owners of Pepe and Chelas’ Restaurant, Gonzalo Sanchez, who created the dinner from all available local Topeka area foods and produce. Kansas Wine and Spirits Wholesaler’s Association provided gratis wine and cocktails.

The awards began as Sarah Fizell, the executive director of Topeka ARTSconnect welcomed the guests from the podium. “We could not be more honored to recognize these bright stars in our community,” said Fizell, “The arts are a big feather in Topeka’s cap–and tonight we gather to recognize that.”

It is the mission of ARTSconnect to “broaden the understanding of how the arts in Topeka enhance the quality of life in our community,” said Fizell.  “…to help community leaders understand the critical role that the arts play in making our community safer, our businesses more profitable, our schools more effective and our lives much richer.”

The Arty Awards acknowledge those involved in the arts in the Topeka community and there are five categories of awards. “Besides the patron award,” said Jenn Bauer, Secretary to the Arts Connect Board, “nominations were accepted in five categories from the art community and those involved in ARTSConnect.”

The Arts Patron Award went to Stan and Jody Teeter for their support of the arts in Topeka.

The Community Arts Award went to The Tonantzin Society that is dedicated to education in Latino arts and culture.

The Visual Arts Award went to Jim Bass, known for his sculptures that have graced many venues around Topeka including Washburn University and The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

The Performing Arts Award went to Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc., one of the longest and continuously running jazz concert series in the nation, which dates back to 1969.

The Literary Arts Award went to The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Community Novel Project for a collaboratively written mystery novel by more than 20 local authors.

There was also a People’s Choice Award. Artwalk visitors had voted for the best Artwalk location and submitted them to ballot boxes found along the Artwalk and at Topeka locations. The winning award for that category went to the Two Wolves Studio and Artist Den located in the NOTO area of Topeka.

During the proceedings The Topeka High School Drum Line performed. The Drum Line was a nominee for a performing arts award.

After the awards show, the party moved downstairs to celebrate to the 80’s music of “Knucklehead Jones.” Cocktails and wine were provided gratis by Glazer’s.

ARTSConnect was founded in 2006, when funding for the Arts Council was cut off by the city of Topeka. It is aided by a grant from the Topeka Community Foundation.

For information about ARTSConnect go to

515 S. Kansas Ave, Suite A, Topeka KS 66603

785-380-7890, or  [email protected]   The website has the very latest Artwalk maps.