Janesville64.3°

Acrylic artist one of three to be inducted into Arts Hall of Fame

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
March 1, 2008
— As a child, Nancy Hawkins always had a sketchbook in her hand.

She also spent countless hours with a bucket of water and a paintbrush creating art on the concrete sidewalk before watching it evaporate.


“It was more in the doing rather than the end result,” said Hawkins, who always has been interested in art.


“I’ve just always enjoyed art, had a passion for it and pursued it,” she said.


That’s why it’s fitting the 51-year-old Milton woman be inducted into this year’s United Arts Alliance Hall of Fame for making a difference in the life of the arts in Rock County.


Hawkins will be honored March 9, along with other 2008 inductees Edie Baran and Ellen Knutson during the sixth annual event.


“I was stunned,” Hawkins said, when she learned of the honor.


“I wasn’t even aware there was such an award. I am just tickled to death,” she said.


A Janesville native, Hawkins is a self-taught artist, a horse trainer and instructor.


“I have no formal training in anything. I was just fortunate to be able to do what I love to do,” she said.


Hawkins pursued art on her own and started doing portrait work at 14. One of her first subjects was a goldfish named Bob. Then she painted people’s pets and family members.


Hawkins has dabbled in fine-line drawings using pen and pencil to watercolors and oils and today prefers acrylic paints.


“Acrylics became my happy medium. They allow me to do many successions of glazing with rapid drying times. There are probably 20 glazes on the ‘O’Grady’s Ewes’ work from the background forward, providing visual depth,” she said.


Three other acrylic paintings of Hawkins hang on display at the Janesville Performing Arts Center along with other works by members of the Janesville Art League.


Hawkins, who loves to paint animals, also paints memorials of pets, on 3-inch porcelain discs, for owners who have lost their companions at the Vet School in Madison.


“You paint what’s in your world, what’s selling to a certain degree and what is going to give me pleasure,” said Hawkins who has lived in Germany, Ireland, Virginia, North Carolina and England and was always around animals when she spent time in the country with her grandparents.


Hawkins also is a college student and seizes every opportunity to learn. That’s why she’s continuing her education at UW-Whitewater, where she is a political science major and pre-law minor.


Hawkins is a member of the Equine Arts Guild and the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association.


She has done some illustrations for use in the sale of calendars and Christmas cards to raise money for SMILES, an area therapeutic program that helps the disabled learn to ride a horse.


Hawkins also is a community activist and a member of the Diversity Action Team and its Project Committee that is planning a mural project downtown to promote diversity and awareness.


“Art is the voice of an individual in a community,” she said. “It can give a strong sense of belonging and changes your ability to see the world.’’


Other inductees

Ellen Knutson and Edie Baran also will be inducted into the United Arts Alliance Hall of Fame:


Ellen Knutson


Knutson is a teacher, volunteer and performer who has made a life-long commitment to the arts in Rock County. She began her music career more than 40 years ago when she joined the Beloit-Janesville Symphony as a Beloit College student and continues to play with the orchestra today.


Knutson taught at Beloit Catholic High School from 1977 to 2000, when she accepted a teaching position at Edgerton High School teaching math. She also has been involved in musical theater at both schools.


Knutson serves on the board of the William Wartmann Endowment for the Performing Arts Center and has served as an ambassador for the arts throughout the region and continues to devote countless hours as a performer and volunteer.


Edie Baran


Baran was born in Germany, raised in Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and education from UW-Madison, and has lived in Rock County since 1977. Since then, Rock County has benefited from her talents, energy, creativity and enthusiasm for the arts.


Baran is a storyteller, director, producer, teacher and group facilitator, who provides an atmosphere where everyone can explore who they are through the arts.


Over the years, Baran has:


-- Been store manager and music instructor at Forbes-Meagher Music Co.


-- Served as UW-Rock County theater manager and lecture/fine arts coordinator from 1990-1994.


-- Taught theater programs for youth with UW-Rock County College for Kids from 1990-1999.


-- Co-founded Spotlight on Kids, serving as managing director, artistic and educational director from 1990-2006.


-- Worked with the Human Relations Club at Craig High School by taking three separate trips to Atlanta with Santo Carfora and students to “Walk in the Steps of Dr. Martin Luther King.”


-- Is instructing early childhood programs, adults with developmental disabilities and adults with Alzheimer’s disease for Very Special Arts of Wisconsin and freelance theatre director/producer and theatre-arts instructor.


JUST THE FACTS

Who: United Arts Alliance of Rock County.


What: Sixth Annual Hall of Fame Brunch.


When: Sunday, March 9, starting at 12:30 p.m. with a social time and continuing with a 1 p.m. brunch and 2 p.m. awards ceremony with music and keynote speaker Shelly Birkelo of The Janesville Gazette.


Where: Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St.


Tickets: $15 and available at JPAC’s downtown Janesville office or by telephone with a MasterCard or VISA by calling the box office at (608) 758-0297 by Thursday, March 6.



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