NEW: Memorial Service for Arts Pioneer Iona Dobbins Sept. 14
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Iona was a significant presence in the Rhode Island arts community. During her tenure as executive director at the State Arts Council, her accomplishments were extensive. She helped to establish the state's public art program, was instrumental in the formation of the Very Special Arts chapter in Rhode Island (now VSA arts of Rhode Island) and in integrating art into the lives of children at Hasbro Children's Hospital, and she helped to set up the Business Volunteers for the Arts. Her early work in supporting arts education continues to benefit students in classrooms throughout the Ocean State.
Visionary work throughout the state
Beyond her work at RISCA, Iona's vision enabled her to find myriad opportunities to bring the arts to Rhode Island, and Rhode Islanders to the arts. She was the original founder of First Night Providence, which gave rise to two ongoing arts festivals, Bright Night Providence and First Works. At the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, she chaired the 250th Anniversary Committee and played an important role in establishing the commemorative stamp issued in honor of this anniversary. As a member of the Providence Art Club, Iona promoted similarly creative programs. As Art Club coordinator, for example, she originated the plan to host an exhibit about the history of pens and pencils, "Design in Hand: The Evolution of Writing Instruments Since 1784," which she coordinated with a major pen fair at the Benefit Street Armory, attracting national attention.
Iona received several honors: in 1986 as a recipient of a Good Citizen Medal from the City of Providence in conjunction with its 350th anniversary celebration; in 2004, she received the Waterfire Community Arts Prometheus Award in tribute to her work for the arts in Rhode Island; and in 2011, she was presented with the Providence Art Club Medal.
Although her passing leaves a huge hole in the hearts of the artists, organizations, patrons, volunteers and colleagues who benefited from her extraordinary vision and generosity, Iona has left an extensive legacy to the arts community and to the Rhode Island public that will flourish for years to come. Iona's leadership and energy made her a welcome presence in so many organizations that she seemed born for public life.
A reception will follow the service at the Providence Art Club.
Special WaterFire tribute this Saturday
A special memorial tribute to Iona Dobbins will be presented at WaterFire on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 at 9:00pm. Friends are invited to join the family at 8:45 on the terrace overlooking Waterplace Basin by the entrance to the tunnel that passes beneath Memorial Boulevard. See www.waterfire.org for an interactive map and other details.
Donations in Iona’s memory may be made to:
THE IONA DOBBINS ART FUND
The Iona Dobbins Art Fund was established anonymously by Iona during her lifetime, with her wish that the fund grow to support Rhode Island non-profit arts organizations working with individuals to encourage their creative new works. The Fund will offer grants to RI organizations in all areas of the arts. Donations may be made to: The Iona Dobbins Art Fund, Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903
THE IONA BLAKE DOBBINS SCHOLARSHIP FOR THE VISUAL ARTS
In memory of “Rhode Island’s First Lady of the Arts” and past president of the Art League of Rhode Island (ALRI), the Art League is pleased to announce The Iona Blake Dobbins Scholarship for the Visual Arts. The scholarship will be awarded to students pursuing the visual arts. Checks** may be sent to: Art League of Rhode Island, Iona Blake Dobbins Scholarship, One Meeting Street, Providence, RI 02903.
**Please make checks payable to ALRI and indicate “Scholarship” on memo line of the check.
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