FRANKFORT — Gov. Matt Bevin has selected five individuals and five organizations whose contributions have raised the level of quality and awareness of the arts in the state as recipients of the 2016 Governor’s Awards in the Arts.
“Just as the wheels of commerce and industry are important to moving Kentucky forward, so too are the arts,” said Gov. Bevin. “Each work of art tells a story and is a reflection of its maker’s unique journey through life.”
“I’m excited about the recipients of this year’s Governor’s Awards in the Arts. They exemplify the best of Kentucky’s creative spirit and foster a love for the arts in our communities,” Bevin added. “These accomplished artists come from every corner of the Commonwealth and we look forward to hosting them for the awards ceremony.”
The Governor’s Awards in the Arts ceremony, which is coordinated by the Kentucky Arts Council in cooperation with the Governor’s Office, will be in October in the State Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. The arts council will announce the date in the near future.
The 2016 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients include:
Milner Award – Chester and Msiba Ann Grundy
Each having been born and raised in different parts of the segregated South, Chester and Msiba Ann Grundy have dedicated their lives to empowering African-American Kentuckians, often through the arts. They have done so through a variety of initiatives, like the Lexington Roots and Heritage Festival, a summer educational camp for youth called “The Nia Project,” establishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center at the University of Kentucky and UK’s renowned Spotlight Jazz series. Through those combined initiatives, the Grundys have brought prominent African-American figures like Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Alex Haley, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Sarah Vaughan and Sonny Rollins to share their talents on visits to Kentucky.
Artist Award – Guy Gerard Kemper, Versailles
Glass artist Guy Gerard Kemper has been the subject of two television documentaries in the United States and one in Germany, and has exhibited and been commissioned to do work in Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. He was commissioned by Alltech cofounder Deirdre Lyons for a work that will grace the front facade of Alltech’s St. James Distillery Visitors Center in Dublin, Ireland. Other major public works include pieces at Bellarmine University in Louisville, the Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City and the Mount Baker Light Rail Station in Seattle.
Business Award – Owensboro Health, Owensboro
The arts are an integral part of Owensboro Health’s mission, within its own organization and in the community at large. The presentation of works of art and performances in Owensboro Health facilities is written into company policy and is part of its corporate culture. The health care organization recognizes art’s role in contributing to the community’s health and wellness. Owensboro Health also annually provides partial funding to arts organizations in Owensboro/Daviess County. Over the last five years, Owensboro Health has invested more than $1 million in the arts regionally.
Community Arts Award – The Affrilachian Poets, Lexington
The term “Affrilachian” was coined in 1991 to describe the people of African-American descent living in America’s Appalachian region, and serves as a reminder of the diversity of the region. The Affrilachian Poets represent writers from the entire region, not just Kentucky. Among its founders are former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker, former University of Kentucky professor Nikky Finney, and Crystal Wilkinson, Appalachian writer in residence at Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Since 1991, the Affrilachian Poets have been writing together and continue to reveal relationships that link identity to familial roots, socioeconomic stratification and cultural influence, and an inherent connection to the land. The collective celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2016.
Education Award – Miles Osland, Lexington
Miles Osland has been director of jazz studies at the University of Kentucky for more than 25 years. From nominator and past Governor’s Award in the Arts recipient Vince DiMartino: “Miles Osland’s most valued contribution to the state of Kentucky is the quality of his students and what they are doing in performance and education. His teaching is responsible for the elevated level of jazz education that we experience in the public schools statewide. His students are at the helm of virtually every excellent high school jazz program in the state.”
Folk Heritage Award – Hindman Dulcimer Project, Hindman
The master and apprentice luthier pairing of Doug Naselroad and Mike Slone, respectively, have helped cement the Hindman Dulcimer Project as an important initiative in defining Appalachia’s contributions to folk music and luthiery. Using the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman as “headquarters,” Naselroad and Slone were instrumental in securing National Endowment for the Arts funding to start the Hindman Dulcimer Project. That support was integral to beginning the annual Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming, which for the past two years has brought luthiers, dulcimer musicians and other enthusiasts to Hindman for the three-day event. The homecoming incorporates concerts, workshops, seminars and exhibits. Under Naselroad and Slone’s ministrations, as many as 13 apprentices have been trained to make the iconic Hindman dulcimer, conserving that tradition for the next generation of luthiers.
Government Award – Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Frankfort
The Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing produces the biennial DeaFestival-Kentucky, a daylong celebration of deaf culture, language and art. The festival began in 1996 with the first DeaFestival-Kentucky in Danville on the campus of the Kentucky School for the Deaf with about 3,000 in attendance. In the 20 years since that inaugural festival, DeaFestival-Kentucky has grown to an event that has hosted as many as 13,000 people, and is known nationally for the spotlight it puts on visual and performing artists who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Media Award – Paducah Life Magazine, Paducah
The arts in Paducah have a friend in the staff of Paducah Life magazine. From nominator and Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond: “Reading a random issue of Paducah Life is like reading a publication on the arts in Paducah, McCracken County and the region of far western Kentucky … The consistent articles in Paducah Life both expose and promote the work of local and regional artists. It is difficult to put a dollar value on the public awareness of the artwork and creative services so beautifully presented to the public through the magazine. I believe each and every artist featured would testify to the effectiveness of the public awareness and economic rewards received through Paducah Life.”
National Award – Wendy Whelan, Louisville native
Wendy Whelan’s love of dance was born in her hometown of Louisville when she attended a performance of Louisville Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” a work in which she would later perform as a young dancer. She left Louisville as a teenager to study at the School of American Ballet and in 1984 she was named an apprentice with the New York City Ballet, joining the corps de ballet a year later. In 1989, she was promoted to soloist and then to principal in 1991. Whelan retired from dancing in 2014 after a 30-year career with the New York City Ballet.
Nominations for the Governor’s Awards in the Arts are accepted annually from the public. The nomination process opens on Sept. 1 and closes on Nov. 1 for the next round of awards. Nominees who are not selected are retained in a file for future consideration. The Kentucky Arts Council coordinates the nomination and selection process for recommendation to the Governor.