Latest ACE recipients announced

The Board of Directors of the New England Carousel Museum and the Bristol Center for Arts and Culture have announced the recipients of the 2015 annual ACE Awards.

The ACE awards, which stand for Art, Culture and Entertainment, will be awarded to local fine artist Rick Fitzsimons and producer/director Mark Mazzarella, at an annual fundraising dinner held in the Carousel Museum building, on Saturday, Nov. 7.

The award was created to honor an individual(s) or organization(s) who have contributed to the art, culture, or entertainment in the Greater Bristol Community.

Rick Fitzsimons grew up in Bristol where he now lives with his wife Bonnie. Rick’s interest in art emerged as a young child and endless hours of drawing occupied much of his time as a youth.

Although fascinated with the different aspects of art, a press release from the museum explained, he never thought he would make it his livelihood. His background in business management led him on an unusual path, circling back to the world of art. Rick and his dad opened an Awards and Sign shop in their hometown. Not long after, customers would request new logo designs for their businesses, which led to applying the images to large signs and vehicles. This service soon began to include painting various landscape pictorials on the signs. As a result, his love for creating and painting was rekindled.

For the pure joy of making art, the press release explained, Rick soon began painting canvas after canvas of landscape and portrait works, which he displayed at his establishment. Almost immediately, but much to his surprise, the release customers inquired about buying his art. At that time, the release said, the lights in his mind turned on. He asked himself, the news release said, “Is it possible that one can actually earn a living by doing that which was never considered to be work?”

Fitzsimons soon began publishing a few of his originals as limited edition prints. Today, Rick Fitzsimons continues to paint numerous works that reflect a mastery of form and an intricate involvement with light. Rick has been a long-time supporter of the arts in Bristol serving on the Carousel Museum Board of Directors and on the museum’s committee for the “Annual Art Contest for Students” as head judge.

In addition to corporate and private commissions, Rick’s work hangs in the private collections of evangelist Billy Graham and radio personality Brad Davis. His work has been exhibited at the Hospital for Special Care “Joy of Art Show,” earning the 2006 “Chairs Award,” the New England Carousel Museum Art Gallery, the Kent Art Gallery, Your Treasured Art Gallery located in Berlin, Artist Haven Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and he was the featured artist in the Artist Corner of the Hartford Courant

Rick’s work was selected to be on display and on sale for the New England Carousel Museum’s 25th Anniversary celebration exhibit in the museum’s Art Gallery. Rick’s work is permanently on display in his studio, located on Jerome Avenue, Bristol, available by appointment.

Rick has donated his art to the Greater Bristol community for many years including paintings to benefit the New England Carousel Museum. He gave the Friends of the Bristol Library a painting titled “Downtown Bristol 1895”, which is permanently displayed at the Main Library. His “Tribute Walkway” painting was donated to the Bristol Veterans Council, and is permanently displayed at City Hall.

Rick has donated his time and talent to the Forestville Village Association, creating the art for their commemorative pewter ornaments since inception and to the Bristol Historical Society for creating the art for their commemorative pewter ornaments including last year’s celebration of Muzzy Field.

Mark Mazzarella is an award-winning director, producer and designer who has created hundreds of films, theatre and television. He most recently received a Tony Award nomination for his outstanding work with his nationally recognized high school theater program, St. Paul Performing Arts.

He began his career as a magician at age 14 and within a few years had toured the world, won rave reviews and was acclaimed as “one of the best magicians in the country” by the New York Times.

His first professional debut came when he was only 19 in the American Premiere of “Houdini” A Circus Opera where his rave reviews from theater critics propelled him to an encore performance in Europe. By age 23, he created a ground-breaking television program for children called “AbraKadabra” a show in which children learned about science, language arts and math, through the art of magic.

His interest in television led to the creation of Mazzarella Media, a family company that produces multi-media experiences to help students learn and teachers teach. Mark and his brothers have been the industry leaders for over 30 years. It was in the early days of their production company where Mark made the transition from performer to producer, director and graphic designer. It was here he honed his skills casting and directing over 100 children a month and creating specialized graphics for every project for media and print.

His passion for the arts led him to creating the first ever documentary called “Stories of the American Puppet,” a tribute to America’s favorite puppets and puppeteers, which aired on PBS and won Mark his first Emmy Award.

He created a theater program from scratch at St. Paul Catholic High School in 2007. In less than two years, St. Paul had become one of Connecticut’s premiere high school theater programs winning numerous awards for their work. St. Paul is now one of the most celebrated high schools in the country having been the only high school to ever make it to the National High School Musical Theater Awards on Broadway three years in a row representing the state of Connecticut.

His work in Connecticut has gained the attention of several top regional theaters and Broadway producers, which led to his directorial debut of an Off-Broadway musical at the York Theater back in 2012, entitled “O’Night Divine”.

A special extravaganza is being produced this year by Ken Ferris in celebration of the New England Carousel Museum’s 25th Anniversary. As a special tribute to the New England Carousel Museum, Ken Ferris & Friends will perform this year at the ACE Awards.  In addition to Ken Ferris, attendees will also be entertained by Richard Guerriere, Patricia Gray, Mary Lynn Gagnon, Caleigh Lozito, Maria Salice, Kim Hazelton/Tony Dipetro, and Jordon Boss, accompanied by Sally Kish, Stacy Cahoon. Richard Theriault, and Greg Caputo.

The ACE awards will be presented at an annual fund raising dinner on Saturday, Nov. 7 and will include a social hour (bring your own libation), buffet dinner with wine provided at each table, an awards ceremony, a 50/50 raffle, and a musical performance produced by Ken Ferris. The event begins at 6 p.m., and tickets are $50 each or $400 for a reserved table of eight. Tickets can be bought at the Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave. in Bristol. The proceeds from this event will benefit the general operations and educational programming of the New England Carousel Museum.

For more information or to order tickets, call the Carousel Museum at (860) 585-5411 or visit

Mark Mazzarella

Mark Mazzarella

Rick Fitzsimons

Rick Fitzsimons