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The Arts Community of Easton (ACE) will honor Michiko Okaya, director of the Williams Center for the Arts gallery, as Patron of the Year 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Wardell in Philipsburg, N.J. The award recognizes Okaya’s persistence in helping ACE achieve federal nonprofit status, allowing it to expand its programs and activities.

“I was surprised and delighted to be selected for ACE’s first Patron of the Year award,” she says. “I know there are many others who have contributed to the success of ACE.”

A founding member of ACE, Okaya is actively involved with the organization, serving as a board member. She wrote four successful grant applications to the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts/Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in support of ACE’s activities and funded haiku workshops for the Shad Arts Celebration, an arts festival in conjunction with the annual Forks of the Delaware Shad Fishing Tournament. For the last 12 years, the Williams Center Gallery has exhibited at least one regional artist, including ACE members.

This past August, Okaya was the Easton coordinator for Robert Whitman’s Local Report media project, in which several ACE members participated. Thirty people assigned to different parts of the city called at five-minute intervals and described something they saw at the moment, and the reports were broadcast live. Together, they represented an image of the area at that moment.

She was the Easton coordinator for the successful Miles of Mules public art project sponsored by the Delaware and Lehigh River Heritage Corridor in which ACE members participated. She also was a “mule tender,” maintaining the Easton painted and decorated fiberglass mules throughout the outdoor installation.

“As a long-time Easton resident, I want to live in a vibrant and active community, and the arts play a crucial part in the area’s quality of life,” Okaya says. “The College, and especially the Williams Center for the Arts, is an important regional cultural institution, and I believe having a Lafayette representative involved with ACE benefits all involved.”

Okaya has served on the grant review advisory panels of the Visual Arts, Museums, and Entry Track Programs for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She is a member of the American Association of Museums (AAM), AAM’s Diversity Coalition, AAM’s Asian Pacific American PIC, Asian Arts Initiative, Friends of Terra-Cotta, and Association of College and University Museums and Galleries.

She recently celebrated her 25th anniversary as a member of the Lafayette faculty. Her special interests include painting and paper conservation, 19th century American decorative arts, furniture refinishing, and photography. She earned her B.A. with departmental honors in anthropology from State University of New York at Stony Brook.

According to its mission statement, ACE’s goals are “to encourage and promote the arts of all disciplines, to foster an appreciation of the arts, and enrich the quality of life of the Easton area by offering arts education opportunities and community programming.” In addition to pursuing their own artistic careers, member artists sponsor workshops for children and adults, community mural projects, studio tours, and the River Rites festival, which is the arts component of the annual Forks of the Delaware Shad Fishing Tournament.

The Wardell is located at 9 Union Square, Philipsburg, N.J. Cost of the buffet dinner is $20. Anyone wishing to attend should contact ACE president Anthony J. Marraccini at 610-250-7627.

Categorized in: Academic News