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Elgin Arts Association elects new leadership, honors local arts supporters

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    Ashley Smith (left) and Greg Silkenson (right), both local artists, were recipients of the Pearls of the Community Award. Photos courtesy of Elgin Arts Association
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    Amy Miller (right) was presented the Pearls of the Community Award from incoming EAA president Lucretia Alvarez (left) . The two maintained social distancing during the awards presentation.

Lucretia Alvarez was elected as president of the Elgin Arts Association (EAA) 2020-2022 during the organization’s general membership meeting on June 27.

The meeting, which took place via Zoom, also saw Deborah DeGezelle elected as Treasurer, Dan Kleiner elected of Vice President of Social Media Communications, and Debbie Wahrmund elected Historian. All board members will serve two-year terms for 2020- 2022.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated folks volunteering with this organization,” past president Dan Kleiner said. “Many of our board members have been part of this group for more than a decade and have done incredible things in that time to promote arts and culture in our community.”

The General Membership meeting opened with discussion of annual events that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. EAA has been forced to cancel several events, such as its Spring Arts Camp and Summer Arts Camp, but the group was still able to pull off its annual Pearls of Youth Art Show with a little bit of a virtual twist.

The show transitioned to a digital format this year with submissions from Elgin ISD and Mc-Dade ISD students, as well as several homeschool students, displayed in online galleries hosted on EAA’s website,

Those galleries will remain available for viewing through the end of the summer, and EAA still plans to promote the event and award annual scholarships to students pursuing a career in an arts-related field.

“Two of our board members—Lucretia Alvarez and Deborah DeGezelle—put in an amazing amount of time and work to pull off this digital version of a new virtual gallery art show,” Kleiner said. “To pivot that quickly and execute it in such a well thought out way is simply phenomenal.”

“The sudden shut down of schools and many businesses for the safety of the community was absolutely necessary and beyond our control,” said incoming president Lucretia Alvarez. “We had to think outside the box to still present an avenue accessible to everyone so students could still have an opportunity to showcase their art. We also appreciate those teachers who were able to go that extra step to submit the art digitally to us so the human contact and handling of artwork was in compliance with the new stay home and stay safe restrictions.”

The Elgin Arts Association also honored several supporters of the arts in Elgin over the last several months with its Pearls of the Community award. The award, which is given out annually, recognizes community members who have made significant contributions to the arts in Elgin and the surrounding area.

The 2019 recipients of the award are Ashley Smith, Greg Silkenson and Amy Miller. Smith is the co-owner of The Clever Tiger and a local artist, and has supported many arts initiatives in Elgin in the last few years, including hosting the Pearls of Youth and Pearls Before Swine Art Shows at her gallery, and teaching the art camps for students. Silkenson, also a local artist, has supported multiple arts initiatives over the years and also volunteers with many organizations around the community. Miller has supported the Elgin Arts Association, the Elgin Art Studio Tour, and multiple arts-focused events both in her role with the City of Elgin and as a member of the community.

Each was awarded a unique Pearl trophy designed by Alvarez using local crafts from local businesses, representing their upward spiraling support springing into action with their wellrounded skills and dedication to balance and showcase art in the Elgin community.

Other business conducted at the general membership meeting included reporting on the finances of EAA and discussing upcoming events. Planning will begin soon for the annual Pearls Before Swine Art Show, which takes place each year during the annual Hogeye Festival, and the possible flexibility of presenting art during social distance challenges.

For more information about the Elgin Arts Association, visit