On Wednesday, several members of the University of Evansville family received recognition for their significant contributions to the arts in a seven-county region of Indiana.
Winners of the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s annual Arts Awards were announced at a news conference at the council’s Bower-Suhrheinrich Foundation Gallery. The recipients will be honored at an awards banquet at Casino Aztar on September 6.
Those with UE ties who won awards are:
Melvin M. Peterson H’91, Mayor’s Arts Award. Peterson received the year’s most prestigious award, which recognizes long-standing support and a lifelong interest in the arts in and around Evansville. Since moving here from San Francisco 23 years ago, Peterson has been named an honorary trustee at UE for his significant impact at the University. UE’s newest art gallery, the Melvin Peterson Gallery, bears his name, and in 2002 the Melvin M. Peterson Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing was established. Peterson has also served as a docent at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science and been a supporter of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the EVSC Foundation. One of Peterson’s nominators called him “an acknowledged, inspiring, and resourceful leader, a friend of students and a model for others in our community.”
R. Scott Lank, Educator of the Year. Lank, professor of acting and director of playwriting in UE’s Department of Theatre, may be best known in the Evansville community for the many UE theatre productions he has directed. However, his students recognize and praise his work inside the classroom, too, which has helped them launch careers in playwriting and acting. A 2012 graduate writes: “He has a truly significant impact on his students’ lives. At the end of each of his classes, we leave wanting to keep working, desiring to grow more, aching for a chance to apply what we have learned in class to our work onstage.”
William Baer, Artist of the Year (two recipients chosen). Nominator Margaret McMullan, UE professor of creative writing, has worked with Baer for 23 years and says she knows no other writer who is quite so fearless in crossing into new writing genres. Baer has written plays, screenplays, novels, essays, poems, and musicals — all while teaching in UE’s Department of Creative Writing, mentoring students outside of class, and running the University of Evansville Press.
Elizabeth Robertson, Artist of the Year (two recipients chosen). Robertson, UE consortium instructor of music for oboe and English horn, has served as principal oboe of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra since 1995 and is also a member of the Harlaxton Woodwind Quintet. Nominators call her a performing artist of the highest caliber who shows superb technique and musical expressiveness with every passage she plays. Also a disciplined and focused teacher, Robertson lays out clear expectations for her students and works tirelessly to help them achieve their goals.
Jo Frohbieter-Mueller ’56, Arts Advocate of the Year. As a lifelong resident of Vanderburgh County, most of Frohbieter-Mueller’s activities have revolved around the arts: She is an artist, collector of art, published writer, musician, and research biologist. She plays fife in the Civil War Band and can often be found at classes and recitals, art exhibits, and board meetings. Truly a Renaissance woman, Frohbieter-Mueller says that art makes her happy. Her nominators say that those around her are made happy, too, by her support and enthusiasm.