A version of this story appears in Thursday’s The Oklahoman.
Governor’s Art Awards presented at Oklahoma Capitol
The Oklahoma Arts Council honored Wednesday 17 individuals and two organizations for their efforts to improve Oklahoma communities and schools through the arts.
The Oklahoma Arts Council honored 17 individuals and two organizations at the 38th annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony Wednesday at the state Capitol.
Gov. Mary Fallin, Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples and Arts Council chairman James Pickel presented the medals and praised the recipients for making a difference in their communities.
“Our honorees have done so much to further the arts,” Fallin said. “I am a big supporter of the arts in Oklahoma because … it helps us preserve our history, it helps us talk about our wonderful culture, it certainly enhances our quality of life. It helps us attract and retain businesses in our state. And it also, I think, helps our children get their creative juices flowing, which is very, very important so that when they become adults they can become innovative and creative.”
Dr. G. Barry Epperley, of Tulsa, and Chuck Tweed, of Midwest City, received the Governor’s Award, recognizing longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts.
The Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation garnered the Business in the Arts Award.
The Media in Arts Award went to Carlos Ortiz, chief editor of the Hispanic weekly newspaper El Nacional de Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, and Kimberly Powell, assistant director of programming for KCSC Radio in Edmond.
Dr. Brad Benson, Norman; Jeanine Berrong, Weatherford; Tyler Bridges, Shawnee; M. Teresa Valero, Tulsa; and the Tulsa Youth Symphony Orchestra, earned the Arts in Education Award.
The Community Service Award honorees were Marjorie Bontemps, Tulsa; Russell Crosby, Sapulpa; Thamazin Harrison, Alva; Anita Caldwell Jackson, McAlester; Mary Blankenship Pointer, Oklahoma City; and Dwane Taylor, Yukon.
Debby Williams, of Norman, received the George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award for an Oklahoma government official or entity for outstanding support of the arts. The retired director of the Oklahoma Art in Public Places program, Williams is now executive director of Artspace at Untitled in Oklahoma City.
Nationally known sculptor Paul Moore, of Norman, garnered the Special Recognition Award for an individual or organization that has made a unique contribution in support of the arts.
Jeannette Sias, of Edmond, was given the Marilyn Douglass Memorial Award, which recognizes an outstanding Arts Council member.
“These people are no only impacting their communities but certainly our entire state,” Pickel said. “Our recipients come from throughout the state, from communities of all sizes, from rural areas that are enriched by community theaters, volunteer arts councils and unique cultural festivals. And they come from large metropolitan areas with vibrant cultural amenities, booming downtowns and neighborhoods that are being revitalized through the arts.”
An Edmond North High School quartet, led by Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Peter Markes, provided pre-ceremony music. Acclaimed opera singer Leona Mitchell, an Enid native who was honored as Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador at the 2003 Governor’s Art Awards, sent her powerful soprano soaring through the fourth-floor rotunda as the ceremony’s special performer.
“I’m just thrilled to be here today to just continue on this art that we have in this great state. I am so proud of Oklahoma,” she said. “I have represented you all around the world … and I am so proud to be an Oklahoman.”