You don’t need a crystal ball to see there’s going to be some familiar names in the roll call of 2016 Nappie Award winners in arts categories. It’s not all old hat, though, since perennials are interspersed with new names and a few reappearances.
Best Local Painter: Devlin Wilson
Wison finished second in 2010 and won in 2008, the last of three previous top nods. Known for his chapeaus as well as his architectural and historic paintings, he has been a recognizable personality on downtown streets for decades now.
When Greer’s wanted something special for their new store at Broad and Government streets, Wilson was their artist. After gathering the proper historical photos, he spent spring 2015 replicating scenes from the Mobile company’s past on its walls.
More of his al fresco work can be found at 400 St. Louis St., just a block and a half from the studio — Innova Arts — he opened with partner Shelley Ingersoll in 2014. He was also honored by inclusion in Mobile’s Oyster Trail.
Best Local Sculptor: Bruce Larsen
A repeat winner from 2015, this Eastern Shore resident’s found-object sculptures have adorned the U.S. Sports Academy, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile Botanical Gardens, the University of South Alabama, USA Women and Children’s Hospital, the Hangout Music and Arts Festival, NASA, Huntsville Museum of Art and Auburn University.
An expert in animal reproductions and animatronics for film work, Larsen has worked on close to 40 movies including “Lincoln,” “The Patriot” and “Planet of the Apes.”
Larsen’s sculptures are in the personal collections of Nicolas Cage, Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Robert Kennedy Jr., Robert Plant, Sting, Mark Ruffalo, Phillippe Cousteau and the Crown Prince of Bahrain.
Best Local Graphic Design Artist: Amanda Pritchard
A new Nappie name, this 2008 University of South Alabama grad has been active. After starts with U.S. Sports Academy and Red Square Agency among others, Pritchard currently does work for Alabama Marmalade designing logos, promotional material, web pages, printed material, show booths and T-shirts.
She also works for the University of Mobile, where she is responsible for all in-house printing and production plus print and digital media for special events. She also coordinates with ad agencies in implementing university public relations campaigns.
Best Mixed Media Artist: Chris Cumbie
Another new artist on our slate, Cumbie is drawn to found-object work. Pieces he calls C.R.E.E.P.S. — Curiously Random Emotionally Elusive Peculiar Specimens — reveal a vaguely Gothic aesthetic reminiscent of Tim Burton’s sensibilities but with Cumbie’s own dark sense of humor.
Cumbie spends a good deal of the year on a festival circuit throughout the U.S. but returns to his Mobile studio in his off time. Last year that coincided with the Mobile Arts Council’s Throwdown on Sept. 18, where he competed with four other artists for the championship.
More of his intriguing work can be found at chriscumbieart.com.
Best Art Gallery: Amber Ivey Lane Art
This showplace at the foot of Spring Hill is home to its namesake, who was voted Best Local Painter in the 2015 Nappies and placed second in the Best Local Artist category in 2013. So when she decided to open her own place in 2014, it was no surprise it quickly became popular for parties, private functions and lessons — a sign she has hit paydirt.
Best Museum: History Museum of Mobile
This cultural showplace placed second in 2014 but now managed to bump the Mobile Museum of Art from the top spot for the first time since 2010. In the last couple of years, the museum has been through upheaval that found it losing its director and most of its staff, so this vote of confidence from Mobilians serves as salve.
Best Theater Group: Joe Jefferson Players
The oldest company in the state is a regular victor in this category. Since 2008, it has placed no worse than second and won four of the last five years.
Best Performance of the Year: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”
In light of the above blurb, it is no surprise JJP took this honor for the Chekhov-derived comedy staged in fall 2015. JJP won the 2015 Nappie for its version of “Aida,” for “Legally Blonde” in 2014 and placed second in 2013.
Best Local Actor: Melanie Petithory
A longtime stalwart of the Mobile stage, the widely liked Petithory wins this award posthumously after she passed away May 13 when a runaway vehicle careened into Sheffield School of Dance on Old Shell Road. Petithory was a lifelong Mobilian who worked in the public schools and had performed on every stage in the area in over five decades.
Petithory displaced 2015 and 2014 winner Brandon Caten from the top spot.
Best Arts Event: LoDa Artwalk
Going strong since its beginning in July 2005, this monthly gallery stroll has been an epicenter of downtown activity and a harbinger for better times for the city’s heart. A repeat winner from 2015, it is hard to see another event displacing this one.