WILKES-BARRE, Pa., May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- On behalf of Governor Edward
G. Rendell, First Lady Marjorie O. Rendell today announced the recipients
of the 2006 Governor's Awards for the Arts, honoring outstanding artists,
arts organizations and patrons of the arts in Pennsylvania for their
excellence and achievement in the arts.
"It is often said that each generation stands on the shoulders of the
one that came before," Judge Rendell said. "If that is so, then future
generations of artists and those who nurture and support the arts will
stand very tall indeed. It will be a great pleasure to recognize this
year's remarkable recipients of the commonwealth's highest recognition for
artistic talent and service. They ably represent the invaluable
contributions of Pennsylvania's cultural community and inspire others to
achieve and serve."
The 2006 honorees are:
-- Internationally renowned master artist Nelson Shanks of Andalusia will
receive the first of two, 2006 Distinguished Arts Awards presented this
-- The acclaimed The Dixie Hummingbirds of Philadelphia will be recognized
with the 2006 Artists of the Year Award.
-- Tony Award-winning film and theatrical designer Santo Loquasto of New
York, NY, (originally of Wilkes-Barre) will receive the second 2006
Distinguished Arts Award.
-- Bradford County Regional Arts Council (BCRAC) will receive the 2006
Outstanding Leadership and Service in Arts in Education Award.
-- Marlene O. "Linny" Fowler of Bethlehem will receive the 2006 Patron
-- Dr. Vernell A. Lillie of Pittsburgh will receive the 2006 Pennsylvania
Creative Community Award.
Governor Rendell will present the awards at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June
20, at The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre,
Luzerne County. The ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will
include presentations and special performances. A ticketed reception will
immediately follow the ceremony.
An open call for nominations for the 2006 Governor's Awards for the
Arts was issued to arts organizations, artists, arts patrons, elected
officials and members of the public. More than 140 nominations were
received for 88 different nominees. A panel comprised of members of the
Arts Council and its executive director reviewed the nominations and made
their recommendations to Governor Rendell.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Profiles of the 2006 honorees follow:
Working from his home and studio in Bucks County, master artist Nelson
Shanks, the recipient of the first of two 2006 Distinguished Arts Awards,
has created a vast body of work whose artistic value and renown enriches
the commonwealth. An internationally celebrated painter, his work is in
distinguished European and American collections and has been exhibited in
many museums and galleries across the country. An exhibition of his
paintings was held at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1996.
His commissioned portrait of former President William Jefferson Clinton
was recently unveiled to much acclaim by The National Portrait Gallery of
The Smithsonian Institution. Shanks was chosen by President Clinton to
paint the portrait and the new work joins the nation's only complete
collection of presidential portraits outside the White House.
Shanks' portrait of Pope John Paul II was hailed by the Director of
Exhibitions at The National Gallery of Art as destined to be "the most
enduring painted image of one of the pre-eminent religious and historical
figures of [the 20th] century." Commissioned portraits of noted figures
include: Her Royal Highness, Diana, The Princess of Wales, His Majesty King
Gustav and Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Julianna of the
Netherlands, former President of the United States Ronald Reagan, Lady
Margaret Thatcher, Luciano Pavarotti, Katharine Graham, and Surgeon General
C. Everett Koop.
Shanks has further demonstrated a lifelong commitment to teaching and
has taught at the University of the Arts, George Washington University, the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Art
Students League and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In October of 2002, Shanks opened Studio Incamminati in Center City,
Philadelphia, to provide a place where artists can study realist painting
and learn other skills necessary to be successful in artistic careers.
Artists from across the country and around the globe flock to study with
the master artist.
The Distinguished Arts Award recognizes a Pennsylvania artist of
international fame or renown whose creations and contributions enrich the
commonwealth. Past recipients in the Distinguished Arts category include
actor Jimmy Stewart; artist Andrew Wyeth; opera singers Marian Anderson,
Paul Plishka and Marilyn Horne; authors James Michener, John Updike and
Chaim Potok; film director M. Night Shyamalan; dancer Judith Jamison; and
musician Paul Winter.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, and a graduate of Kings College, Santo Loquasto
is an award-winning designer for film, dance, drama and opera. He has
collaborated with Woody Allen on more than 20 films and enjoys ongoing
creative partnerships with contemporary choreographers Paul Taylor, James
Kudelka and Twyla Tharp.
Inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2005, Loquasto has won Tony
and Drama Desk Awards and his costume designs for Woody Allen's Zelig, and
production design for Radio Days and Bullets over Broadway were nominated
for Academy Awards.
Twyla Tharp's Push Comes to Shove marked the beginning of his
relationship with American Ballet Theatre. In his work with ABT he also
collaborated with choreographers Jerome Robbins, Mikhail Baryshnikov,
Kenneth MacMillan, Agnes de Mille, and Mark Morris. As designer for the
Paul Taylor Dance Company, he has designed such works as Speaking in
Tongues, Spindrift, Company B, and Funny Papers.
Last year, his scenic design for the Broadway revival of David Mamet's
Glengarry Glen Ross was nominated for a Tony Award and won the 2005 Drama
Desk Award. He won both the Tony and Drama Desk awards in 1989 for his
scenic design of the New York Shakespeare Festival's Cafe Crown, and in
1990, he again won both the Tony and Drama Desk awards for this costume
design for Grand Hotel. He received his first Tony in 1977 for costume
designs for The Cherry Orchard. Other productions for which his designs
have received Tony nominations include Long Day's Journey into Night, That
Championship Season and Ragtime.
Last season, he designed Faust for the Metropolitan Opera and An
Italian Straw Hat for National Ballet of Canada.
Most recently on Broadway, Loquasto's work has been represented in the
productions of Three Days of Rain (with Julia Roberts) and Movin' Out
(Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp).
The 2006 Artists of the Year, The Dixie Hummingbirds, have passed their
75th anniversary as a musical phenomenon and celebrated with a cut on the
soundtrack of Bob Dylan's film Masked and Anonymous, a richly detailed book
published by Oxford University Press that documents their legacy and an
album, Diamond Jubilation. One of the most influential groups in gospel
music, they began their remarkable journey in 1920s Greenville, South
Carolina, organized by gospel great James B. Davis, then 12 years old.
In 2000, the "Birds" were awarded a prestigious National Heritage
Fellowship recognizing their stature as the last of an entire generation of
artists who provided the foundation of Black music in the U.S. today. While
they have always remained deeply rooted in the gospel tradition, their
influence has made itself known far and wide in American popular music.
Artists they have influenced include the Temptations, James Brown, Stevie
Wonder, Bobby Blue Bland, Al Green and Shirley Caesar.
The group broke into the popular consciousness in 1966 when they
prompted a standing ovation at the Newport Folk Festival, and still greater
fame was in store in 1973, when they backed Paul Simon on his smash hit
"Loves Me Like a Rock." The Birds' own rendition of the tune won them a
Grammy in 1974.
The group moved to Philadelphia in the early 1940s, where easy access
to a range of venues allowed them to make a name for themselves on a larger
scale after 10 years of 'wildcatting' - taking their act on the road to
build a reputation - in the South. By 1942, they were wowing audiences at
Cafe Society, New York's first integrated nightclub, backed by legendary
saxophonist Lester Young. In the 1950s, they routinely brought down the
house at the Apollo Theater.
Jerry Zolten of The Pennsylvania State University describes their
journey in a highly acclaimed history Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie
The Artist of the Year Award, which is known as the Hazlett Memorial
Award (named for the first chairman of the Pennsylvania Council on the
Arts), recognizes an artist for his or her contributions to the excellence
of the arts in Pennsylvania. Past recipients of the award have been pianist
Lang Lang, conductor and composer Andre Previn, dancer LaVaughn Robinson,
poet Gerald Stern, architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown,
sculptor Thaddeus Mosely, ceramist Rudolph Staffel, and photographer Mark
The 2006 Patron Award will be presented to Marlene O. "Linny" Fowler of
Bethlehem, PA. During the last 17 years, Fowler has become the Lehigh
Valley's leading arts philanthropist, providing not only monetary support
but also her time, talent and wisdom to countless arts and cultural
organizations. Her philanthropy and hands-on advocacy is credited with
having made a greater impact on the accessibility of the full range of
artistic and cultural opportunities to children than anyone else in the
Much of her energy is devoted to introducing children at-risk to the
arts, supporting educational programs for youth and improving the quality
of life through art for all people. A longtime advocate for arts in
education, she recognizes the importance of the arts in the development and
education of all children. An artist herself, she provides art supplies and
lends a hand in art lessons to the poorest of elementary schools and Head
Start Centers. She supports art therapy at Valley Youth House for runaways.
Through "Linny's Kids," a scholarship program at the Baum School of Art,
she provides support for children to attend art classes at the school. Her
sponsorship of Free Sundays at the Allentown Art Museum has increased
attendance by those who might not otherwise be able to enjoy the Museum's
treasures and this single act of generosity has benefited 30,000 visitors.
She has served on the boards of directors of Lehigh Valley cultural
organizations for more than 30 years and supports many more. Without her
leadership and vision, the Banana Factory, a community arts center and
gallery in Bethlehem, would never have been established. She was involved
in the project from the beginning, serving on a committee to find the right
abandoned building to develop so artists could have individual studios and
children could learn art. Her initial contributions spearheaded a
successful capital campaign of which she was co-chair.
Most recently, she was the major donor for the Fowler Family South Side
Campus of Northampton Community College, which will be the hub for 16 arts
organizations and the Cops n' Kids literacy program.
Past recipients of the Patron Award have included Marguerite and Gerry
Lenfest, The Heinz Endowments, Regina Gouger Miller & Marlin Miller, Jr.,
Francois Bitz, Lois Lehrman Grass, PNC Bank Foundation, Meyer P. and Vivian
O. Potamkin, and Binney & Smith Inc.
The Rendell administration initiated two award categories for its Arts
Awards - the Outstanding Leadership and Service in the Arts for Youth
and/or Arts in Education Award and the Pennsylvania Creative Community
Award. These categories reflect the administration's recognition of the
significant benefits of involvement in the arts for Pennsylvania's youth
and the potential for positive community impact through utilizing the arts
to address important local issues.
The Pennsylvania Creative Community Award was created to celebrate and
recognize those who have used arts and culture to address issues of
importance at the community level. The recipient of this year's award will
be Dr. Vernell A. Lillie of Pittsburgh whose role as a mentor, leader,
catalyst and tireless advocate for African American theatre and culture has
fostered the cultural unity of African Americans in Pittsburgh.
Named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1998, Lillie
co-founded Pittsburgh's Kuntu Repertory Theatre with the late playwrights
Rob Penny and August Wilson in 1974. An associate professor of Africana
Studies at the University of Pittsburgh since 1972, Lillie, who is retiring
from the university at the end of this academic year, has been acknowledged
as a "living legend" by the National Black Theatre Festival.
In her capacity as artistic director of Kuntu Repertory Theatre and as
a professor, teaching artist and role model, Lillie has written and
directed over 250 plays and has launched the careers of numerous artists.
Kuntu Repertory Theatre produces works that capture the essence of culture
from the African continuum. The theatre strives for excellence; promoting
the West African Bantu philosophy that art is functional and is a way of
preserving the positive dimensions of one's own culture. The name, Kuntu,
comes from a Bantu word meaning the "way" of a community - the essence, the
cultural unity of a people.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Lillie received the Career
Theatre Award in Education from the Association for Theatre in Higher
Education in 2003. Previous recipients of this award include Athol Fugard
and Edward Albee.
The past recipients of the Pennsylvania Creative Community Awards have
been Donna N. Brown & Alfred Brown and the Point Breeze Performing Arts
Center; and Art Sanctuary and Asian Arts Initiative.
The award for Outstanding Leadership and Service in Arts in Education
will be presented to Bradford County Regional Arts Council (BCRAC). Since
1995, BCRAC has developed an exemplary program for arts education in 27
rural school districts in Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga and
Wyoming counties. When it began its arts in education work, BCRAC had only
one artist on its regional directory and only three days of residency work.
Since then, it has grown to promote and support 25 high-quality artists
working in 27 school districts. In 2004-05, the total number of students
served was 15,532 for a total of 312 artist residency days in 23
Selected through a rigorous application and review process to partner
with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to provide arts in education
services in the northern central part of the state, BCRAC assembled and led
the Northern Tier Alliance for Arts in Education. It identified a
doubly-underserved population - both rural and pre-school (0-6 years of
age) - for in-depth service and formed the Learning Early Network with
other early childhood programs in the region. In 1999, this work was
recognized as a "Best Practice" in the arts by the Pennsylvania Department
of Education and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
In 1998, when the local community sought to respond to the tragic
suicide of a young child, it sought out BCRAC and the Learning Early
Network to employ their work with the arts and communication skills, which
in turn led to the development and implementation of the program Learning
Communication Skills through the Arts.
Working with 16 Head Start Centers in the Northern Tier region, BCRAC
provides the services of specially trained artists whose arts activities
are designed to improve communication skills in children. In the first year
of the project, it brought music, storytelling, dramatic play and visual
arts activities to approximately 300 children in the Bradford-Tioga Head
Start program. Each of the Centers receives 16 visits from one or more
artists and attends at least one live performance in a historic theatre.
Learning Communication Skills through the Arts attracted the attention
of an education consultant for the Arts Council of England, who traveled to
Bradford County for a week in August of 2004. She subsequently initiated an
international exchange program with Northern Tier artists and artists from
England. The Learning Communication Skills program will be featured as one
of three international models for work with early childhood and the arts.
Past recipients of the Outstanding Leadership and Service to Youth/Arts
in Education Awards are Carole Haas Gravagno, Dr. Sarah Tambucci, and a
Lifetime Award was presented to children's author Lloyd Alexander.
The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out
more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us.
Heather Doughty (Arts Council)
717-787-6883 ext. 3039
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor