It’s Black & White — Miami County businesses love local artists

_________________________________ November, 2016


I had learned about the Miami County Arts Coalition when I heard about the “Black & White Gala” downtown Paola, Kansas. It behooved me to witness the event. When I did, I beheld a business community embracing its artists, in a creative and classy way.
     Here’s how I stumbled upon it, per se, and learned about the Coalition’s active support of artists.
The introduction
Saturday afternoon, I arrived in Paola, returning via my”Writer in Residence expedition.”
     I dropped my luggage at the “Residence,” then walked to Spudley’s, a comfort food restaurant, for a bite and a cup o’ wine. Once settled, I called a taxi. More specifically the taxi in this quaint community. It was run by the mayor, Artie Stuteville, the sole driver.



     Said hello, hello! Surprised her that I was back in town. Asked what were her hours if I needed a taxi after my late lunch. She said she had to sign off by 5 p.m., as she needed to attend an event.
     No worries at-all, I said. I signed off, and apprised Spudley’s owner Pam Thompson that Mayor Stuteville was unavailable due to attending an event.
     Mrs. Thompson handed me a brochure to the Black & White Gala, and said the Mayor must be going to that.
Black & White Gala
I gazed at the brochure. Twelve tables were featured for the Gala dinner. Each had a culinary host, or “Culinary Champion,” and an honored artist.
     The event was invitation only, Mrs. Thompson informed. Her husband had just dropped off their donation cuisine.
I unfolded the brochure, to see a “flipside”  listing the Tables. Spudley’s was listed as “Champion” for TABLE #1. Their MENU: Sirloin Tips Dinner. Mmm!
     I perused the TABLES to seek other familiar Culinary Champions. Sure enough, there was Casa Somerset, TABLE #7. Their MENU: Tuscan Vegetarian Lasagne. My mouth watered. I knew Casa Somerset owner and chef Michael Hursey prepared it, and ver-ly likely used vegetables and herbs from his gardens.

'Writer in Residence' dress

‘Writer in Residence’ dress

     I did not have an Invitation. By the time I was ready, I would arrive late. Yet as an interested Writer, I hoped they would welcome me to glimpse.
To visit the occasion
What do I have that is black & white and appropriate for a GALA, I pondered. Aw shucks, the perfect dress, my “Writer in Residence” dress that was black with white polka dots, was in storage.
     I had here, plenty of black, in skirt, leggings and shirt. The white had to be in a black and white waist jacket.
My chin high, a ribbon at my ponytail, wearing low-heeled shoes, I entered the event.
A glimpse at the occasion
The place was buzzing. Folks sat at tables with black tablecloths. Exposed brick walls in the background, tall ceilings and hardwood floors.

view of the GALA

view of the GALA

     I walked to the back bar that two ladies attended, wearing black pants and shirts, and asked to meet the event organizer. One of the ladies located her, and I met Miami County Arts Coalition board member Sandra Hartley.
Her eyes shined, and she smiled while I introduced myself. Ms. Hartley did not have time to elaborate now, yet we met days later, and I got the scoop regarding the GALA.
Here ’tis:
● This was the Coalition inaugural event in feting local artists. The festivities celebrated 21 Miami County artists, among them representing painting, sculpture, performing arts and photography.
● Local businesses covered the tickets. This so admission was free for artists and Coalition members to invite their own honored guests.
● Folks dressed for the occasion, enjoyed company with local artists, and delicious cuisine provided by local restaurants and caterers, followed by a presentation that featured slides of the honored artists’ works.
● The GALA was an extension of the Miami Arts Coalition goal to support local artists and to engage them in the community.
     Fabulous! What a stellar model for supporting local artists.
     For more information, visit

Check out the Miami County Arts Coalition REFLECTIONS Galleries, and the exhibits they feature in late 2016: “… take a ‘Gallery visits’ excursion”

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