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Nickel Plate Arts Awards

Last week my husband and I were honored to attend the Nickel Plate Arts 5th Anniversary Party. Nickel Plate Arts is an arts organization in Noblesville, Indiana. They support a variety of arts along the old Nickel Plate Railroad. Their main campus houses a number of artists’ studios, but they also feature monthly exhibits and host events that feature musicians, actors, writers, and other creative artists.

My favorite event is Fairyville, an event where the community makes tiny fairy houses for display and I get to lead tea parties with teenagers assisting as “real fairies.” My husband Spike and I are also hosting Superhero University for the first time October 7. We get to be sidekicks! In an exciting script, kids go through a number of activities to learn to be superheroes, then we confront a supervillain. I am currently working on my costume – can’t wait!


Picture courtesy of Nickel Plate Arts

At the Anniversary Party, we got to mingle with lots of other artists and community leaders. I was delighted to see Sue Payne there leading a felting activity. Sue is my longtime partner in crime at Conner Prairie, where we work together to lead the youth spinning teams.  I organize, and she does everything else! By coincidence I also got to sit by Alys Caviness-Gober, my partner in crime at Logan Street Sanctuary.

GuitarLSS white

Alys and I work together to produce NICE (Noblesville Interdisciplinary Creativity Expo) and The Polk Street Review. NICE features art inspired by classic literature, and Polk Street is an anthology of works by Noblesville writers/artists or about Noblesville.

Spike and I also invited our parents because we were up for one of the awards that evening – Arts Entrepreneur. Besides the things I have mentioned above, Spike has started a new theatre in town, Page & Stage Theatre Co. This past summer he ran drama workshops out of Logan Street Sanctuary, everything from auditioning to Shakespeare. We plan to expand the children’s summer drama camp in 2018 and eventually put on full productions for adults as well.


It was an honor to be nominated. We walked away with a Dali-inspired melting egg sculpture (hilarious!) and a door prize painting.


We didn’t win, but I couldn’t be happier with who got the award in our category – our friend John Gilmore, founder and visionary of Logan Street Sanctuary. John bought a barracks-turned-church in the heart of downtown Noblesville about 5 years ago with his own money. His dream was to create a venue where excellent musicians from all over the country could perform in Noblesville but also make a little money. Spike and I both serve on the board with him. He brings in a lot of talent and has some of the most musician-friendly policies around. He is also a superb musician in his own right. Check out this song by his group, Noble Roots.

John Gilmore NPA Awards

Congrats, John! John is a humble guy and we were lucky we convinced him to show up to a fancy shindig, but I think he was happy to be recognized for his hard work. And congrats Alys, who assists him with this mission.

Other winners include:

Emerging Artist of the Year – University High School student Noah Laramore

Emerging Arts Champion of the Year – Brittany Mayfield

Artist of the Year – a TIE! Christine Merchent AND Rodney Reveal

Patron of the Year – The Legacy Fund

So why have evenings like this? To dress up in sparkly dresses? (Well, that’s a good reason, too. The Nickel Plate President Aili McGill had the BEST glitter dress.) What I got out of it was the chance to gather as a community and verbalize:

We support art here. 


The world of art can feel fragmented. Maybe you’re a budding artist and you are just starting to feel out how the art world works. Maybe you’re afraid no one likes your offbeat style and are struggling to find your audience. Maybe you have no artistic talent but you want to be inspired by someone local, someone real you might actually run into at Walmart. Maybe you’re a musician but you have no idea how to connect to painters, actors, and dancers. At events like this, we get to say we care about art. We get to find each other, and connect.

Congrats, Nickel Plate Arts, for a great event and an evening of connection.


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