Local Film, Music, Lit and Arts Stars Converge at Milley Awards Sunday

Jack Beck, Zoe Elton, Jimmy Dillon, Alice Corning and Betty Goerke will be honored for creative achievement and distinguished accomplishments in the arts.

Five days removed from the end of a 35th Mill Valley Film Festival that was both star-studded and laden with likely Academy Award nominees, Zoe Elton has a lot of reasons to celebrate.

Elton, the festival’s longtime director of programming, gets one more reason Sunday night when she’ll be one of five recipients of a 2012 Milley Award, which honors creative achievement and distinguished accomplishments in the arts.

In a MVFF-friendly coincidence, Elton is joined as a 2012 Milley recipient by Mill Valley sculptor Alice Corning, who in 2007 created the MVFF Award doled out each year by Elton and MVFF Director Mark Fishkin to that year’s honored actors and filmmakers, with Dustin Hoffman, Billy Bob Thornton and Mira Nair among this year’s honorees.

“It’s a very nice symbiosis to be honored the same year as Alice,” Elton said. “And it’s another nice way to celebrate our 35th anniversary.”

Elton and Corning are joined this year by Jack Beck, co-founder of the First Tuesday Art Walk and the creator of the Mill Valley Paint-Off, an annual painting competition in the Depot Plaza; veteran guitarist Jimmy Dillon and Betty Goerke, author and College of Marin anthropology professor.

The Milley Award is a bronze statuette created by John Libberton of Sausalito. The event is produced by a volunteer board of directors, under the auspices of the Mill Valley Art Commission.

Here are snippets from the Milley Awards program about each of the recipients:

Jack Beck - Contributions to the Arts Community

In 1966, Sali Lieberman enlisted Jack’s CPA skills to set up the books for the Mill Valley Center for Performing Arts, which later became the Marin Theatre Company. He again used his CPA skills in 1980 for The Antenna Theater, which first performed at Tamalpais High School in 1981. He co-founded the Headlands Center for the Arts (1974) and China Camp Art Center (1982) and Sausalito’s Bay Model Summer Art Show (2002).

Jack founded the First Tuesday Mill Valley Art Walk (1982) with his friend Tyson Underwood. In 1990, during his five-year stint as a Mill Valley Art Commissioner, Jack created the Mill Valley Paint-Off, an annual plein-air painting competition in the Mill Valley Plaza, now in its 22nd year. Jack has each year personally funded the Jack Beck Award for the Most Original Work.

Alice Corning - Achievement in the Visual Arts

A pre-eminent ceramic artist and sculptor who has lived in Mill Valley for 37 years, Corning thinks of her pieces as “good soldiers,” going out into the world to spread the word as to the importance of handmade ceramics in our lives.

In 2007, the Mill Valley Film Festival selected Alice’s abstract female figure (made in clay, then cast in bronze) for its new, annual Mill Valley Film Festival Award. The statuette is given to recipients of the Festival’s special Tributes and Spotlights, which honors and celebrates distinguished artists and innovators in the filmmaking community.

Jimmy Dillon - Achievement in the Musical Arts

Jimmy Dillon is a musical icon who has earned a reputation as a modern musical master. As a gifted composer and arranger, solo performer and recording artist, singer and guitarist, band leader and music educator, Jimmy has done it all.

He was a founding member and front-man for The Edge, one of Marin’s iconic rock bands in the 1980s. He then became musical director and lead guitarist for the late, great Clarence Clemons’ Red Bank Rockers. In the 1990s, Jimmy played around the world with music royalty – Bob Dylan, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, BB King, Carlos Santana – and with Bill Clinton at both his inaugurals. He toured and recorded extensively, backing up greats like John Lee Hooker, and formed the Jimmy Dillon Band.

A stalwart volunteer performer for Bread & Roses for 30 years, Jimmy’s contributions go much deeper. He excels at bringing like-minded performers together to collaborate for higher causes.

On Nov. 10, Jimmy in celebration of receiving a Milley Award, will be doing a retrospective of his career (including many musicians from his past) at the Sweetwater Music Hall.

Zoë Elton - Achievement in the Performing Arts

As the Mill Valley Film Festival’s Director of Programming, Zoë Elton’s work is the foundation of its success. Her name is synonymous with the Festival.

Zoë was the first employee hired by Mark Fishkin and has been Director of Programming since the festival’s inception in 1978. Mill Valley’s ambiance, its intimate setting, and its world-class programming shaped by Zoe, make the event unique.

Zoe’s programming choices are both intriguing and brave, marked by an incredible insight and resonance into the community. She travels worldwide to search for films that are smart, well-crafted, and made by artists who are passionate about what they do. Her understanding of world cultures has honed her uncanny ability to program to an audience that is both sophisticated and well-informed.”

Betty Goerke - Achievement in the Literary Arts

The work of Betty Goerke, College of Marin anthropology professor, has enriched our cultural heritage and created a sense of place and a reverence for the land and the people who first inhabited Marin.

In Betty’s book, Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel and Legend, the man who gave Marin its name comes to life. She looks at a forgotten time, when the Coast Miwok lived through the difficult years of European domination.

The publication of Chief Marin in 2007 generated an apology from Bishop Francis A. Quinn for the mistreatment of Miwok Indians. It also led to the placement of a brass plaque at 48 Locust Avenue, marking Chief Marin’s birthplace in Mill Valley in 1781.

The 411: The Milley Awards are Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Mill Valley Community Center. The program emcee is San Francisco Chronicle Leah Garchik. Tickets are $65. For more details, go to the event’s web site.

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