Announcing the winners of the JAYs - and celebrating them - is such a joyous way to spend an evening. Sure, we could bump up the ticket price and ask people to worry about what they're going to wear. We could hold the celebration in some swanky hall with fancy food and funky drinks. Ice sculptures. We could do ice sculptures.
But Jasper decided a long time ago that our celebration of artists who have had a very good year would not fall into that trap of being a who's who and a see and be seen event. We have way too many of those things in town already! And the reality is that once you pay for those mixologists and finger foods -- not to mention the ice sculptures -- you've not only out-ticket priced the working artists in town who just barely get by financially off their art and their other jobs, and you've created an entirely uncomfortable event that people fret about going to and can't wait to leave so they can go home take their Spanx off.
Last night was another example of how we play at Jasper. We had some of the best people in town on our stage, serving us drinks and food, and doling out big authentic hugs to one another.
Those Lavender Whales, finalists for JAY in music, fully embraced our request that they lead us in Christmas Carols -- and Jessica even donned a Dolly wig and sang Hard Candy Christmas! All three JAY literary finalists - Nicola, Al, and Don - put together a sweet and silly Twelve Days of Christmas number involving all the finalists. Mandy, finalist in theatre, performed some beautiful songs accompanied by Chris, also a finalist in theatre, and Tyler, JAY finalist in music. Jay provided us with our sound system.
Off-stage. we had Phill and Matty pouring beer and wine and Joe and Candy serving up some delicious snacks. Ashley was capturing everyone on camera and Barry was popping those images up on screen as fast as he could. Bohumila, Diane, and Billy had coordinated the ornament auction in which more than two dozen ornaments, made especially for last night by artists like Stephen, Barbie, Matthew, and more, went home with folks as a remembrance of the evening. Kristian judged the living Christmas tree contest -- Bohumila won -- and offered up the prize of a dinner at Bourbon. Intern Jenna checked all the contestants in. And Thomas offered us four of his beautiful paintings for auction -- Barry and Chris each took one home. Kyle and Coralee ran the door, selling not only tickets but also the hand-made all-ages coloring books that Billy, Bob, and I had put together, with art in them from Cedric, Michael, Heidi, Laurie, Dogon, Thomas, Alexandra, and Sean.
At the end of the night we were tired, but sustained by our sense of community and that happiness that comes from having an authentically good time in the company of people we can be ourselves around. It was a joy.
So, without any more tap dancing and horn tooting, we are delighted to announce our winners of the 2017 Jasper Artists of the Year.
Congratulations once again to all the finalists - Nicola, Don, Tyler, Aaron and the gang, Nicole, Cedric, Mandy, and Chris.
Thanks to everyone who voted (and sorry to have to clean out those multiple votes and keep it clean, but that's how Sara rolls!) And thanks to all who came out last night to support and celebrate with us.
Happy Holidays from all of us at The Jasper Project!