The Oklahoma Arts Council honored 11 individuals and eight organizations for their contributions to the arts at the 37th annual Governor's Arts Awards ceremony held Thursday at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Gov. Mary Fallin was joined by Arts Council executive director Kim Baker and Arts Council chairman James Pickel to make the presentations.
“This is a remarkable time to be in Oklahoma and you are making a huge impact on the state through your contributions to the arts,” Fallin told this year's recipients. “You help us tell the story of our culture, our values, our history and our nation.”
The Governor's Arts Award, which recognizes longtime leadership and significant contributions to the arts, was given to Charles Ward, an architect whose designs include the Gilcrease Museum's special exhibits gallery and the Tulsa Central Library; Christian Keesee, chairman of the Kirkpatrick Foundation and president of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund; and Don Betz, president of the University of Central Oklahoma.
“When I first heard about receiving this award, I kept thinking about all of the people on whose shoulders these awards rest,” Betz said. “It's this unbroken thread that has been created by artistically motivated people along the way who have provided opportunities for everyone.”
The recipient of the Business in the Arts Award was AVB Bank of Broken Arrow.
Media in the Arts Awards were given to KOSU Radio of Stillwater, OKIE Magazine of Lawton and RSU Public TV of Claremore.
Community Service Awards went to Bob Palmer of Bethany, Dolores McClure of Enid, Laurie Thompson of Mangum, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, and Mary Bryant, Nancy Harris and Marlene Woods, all of Arnett.
The George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award recipient was Mayor Bill Shewey of Enid.
A Special Recognition Award went to painter and sculptor Mike Larsen of Perkins.
The Arts in Education Awards honored Choregus Productions of Tulsa, the Firehouse Art Center of Norman and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
“We are thrilled with this award,” said Oklahoma City Philharmonic executive director Eddie Walker. “We share it with our partner in philosophy of music education, the Oklahoma City Orchestra League. We consider music education the most important work we do.
“It meets critical individual needs today but it lays the foundation for building tomorrow's audiences, arts leaders and good civic citizens. We invest heavily in the financial and human resources that are required to mount 18 different education programs that span preschoolers through senior adults.”
Governor's Arts Awards recipients are selected from names submitted by members of the Governor's Arts Awards selection committee. The awards have been presented since 1975. In 1989, former Oklahoma Arts Council executive director Betty Price designed a medallion that is given to all recipients. The gold medallion features a detail of Allan Houser's sculpture “As Long As the Waters Flow.”