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Model Builder Tibbals To Receive Fine Arts Society's Top Award

Howard Tibbals, known for "The Howard Bros. Circus Model" at the Ringling Museum of Art will receive the Luminaire Award by the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota.

Circus historian and master model builder Howard Tibbals will be honored Monday with the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota's 2012 Luminaire Award.

The 75-year old retired business man, circus historian, philanthropist, and model builder is perhaps best known locally and globally for The Howard Bros. Circus Model, which is on public display at . He will be presented with the award by Deborah Walk, the Ringling Museum’s Tibbals Curator of the Circus Museum. 

The Luminaire Award is the highest honor bestowed by the society. It recognizes excellence in creativity, philanthropy and advocacy, the elements that are keys to the future growth of the Arts in Sarasota and to an individual who inspires others to follow their lead, the organization said.

Tibbals will receive the award at the society's Celebrate the Arts luncheon on Monday at the Sarasota Yacht Club. 

“Howard’s talent, vision, and philanthropic efforts are a boon to the Ringling Museum and greater Sarasota/Bradenton area,” said Steven High, executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “He brings so much pride to our community, and joy to our visitors, helping further our mission to educate, entertain and share our community’s circus heritage.”

Walk added, “I have worked with Howard for more than 20 years. To this day, he continues to educate me about the circus and inspire the Ringling Museum to achieve great heights. It is such a privilege to be presenting this prestigious award to Howard, who packaged his big dreams for Sarasota and the Ringling Museum in a tiny circus, known as The Howard Bros. Circus Model, in the aptly named, Tibbals Learning Center, which he generously helped fund. He, along with John Ringling and many others, helped earn Sarasota the moniker of Circus City U.S.A."

Tibbals’s circus miniature, which is a replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus during in its heyday, has been a huge draw and crowd pleaser for the Ringling Museum since 2006.

The model resides in the Tibbals Learning Center that houses the Ringling Museum collection, and part of Tibbals’s collection, including circus memorabilia, posters, and costumes. 

The Luminaire Award kicks off a busy week for Tibbals.

He, his wife Janice, and their family, will be joined by Center Ring circus stars, musicians, clowns, and jugglers, and other performers for the Grand Opening of the Tibbals Learning Center’s expanded interactive galleries, which celebrate circus history and its Center Ring performers.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held in front of the Tibbals Learning Center’s expanded galleries at 11 a.m. Jan. 21. Center Ring performers -- the acrobats and aerialists, circus clowns, daredevils, and ringmaster -- will virtually come to life in the new space’s interactive exhibits that spotlight the art of circus performance, including gravity and death-defying feats, the museum said. 

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