Lexington is very well represented in the recipients of the 2016 Kentucky Governor’s Awards in the Arts, which were announced Wednesday afternoon.
The 2016 awards are the first under Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in November 2015. The Kentucky Arts Council takes nominations and makes recommendations to the governor, who signs off on the final recipients. The winners will be honored in the Capitol Rotunda in an October ceremony customarily led by the governor. The date of the ceremony will be announced later.
Leading the honorees are Chester Grundy, a longtime University of Kentucky administrator, and his wife Msiba Ann Grundy, who will received the awards’ top honor, The Milner Award. “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,” a news release from the Kentucky Arts Council said. Among the couple’s individual and joint contributions cited are the Lexington Roots and Heritage Festival, the summer youth camp The Nia Project, the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center at UK and the Spotlight Jazz Series.
Also hailing from UK is saxophonist Miles Osland, director of jazz studies at the university for more than 25 years, who will receive the education award. Osland was nominated by fellow arts educator and past Governor’s Award recipient Vince DiMartino, who leads the DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra with the sax man. Nominating Osland, the trumpeter wrote, “His teaching is responsible for the elevated level of jazz education that we experience in the public schools statewide.”
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The artist award will go to Versailles glass artist Guy Gerard Kemper, whose public artworks are displayed at places such as Louisville’s Bellarmine University, the Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero in New York and Seattle’s Mount Baker Light Rail Station. Kemper’s work has been exhibited and commissioned around the world, including a new work that will be on the front facade of Alltech’s St. James Distillery Visitor’s Center in Dublin, Ireland.
The Lexington-based Affrilachian Poets will get the community arts award. The organization was founded in 1991 by a group including former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker, former University of Kentucky professor Nikky Finney, and Crystal Wilkinson, who is Appalachian writer in residence at Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Affrilachian Poets have worked to highlight the cultural diversity of the Appalachian region and its influence.
The folk heritage award will go to the Hindman Dulcimer Project, an initiative by master luthier Doug Naselroad and apprentice Mike Slone to establish Appalachia’s contributions to folk music and luthiery. Through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the project’s accomplisments have included the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming, which attracts musicians, luthiers and other enthusiasts each year.
The Frankfort-based Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will receive the government award. Among the group’s initiatives is the now-20year-old biennial DeaFestival-Kentucky, a celebration of deaf culture and art. The event attracts more than 13,000 people.
The national award, for artists from Kentucky who have had a national impact, goes to Louisville’s Wendy Whelan, who recently retired from the New York City Ballet after a 30-year career with the company. She was named a principal dancer with the company in 1991, and was the subject of a KET Kentucky Muse documentary a few years ago.
The business award will go to Owensboro Health, cited for inclusion of arts in its practice and funding of arts organizations.
Paducah Life Magazine will receive the media award. In her nomination, Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond wrote, “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.”
Follow Rich Copley on Facebook and Twitter, @copiousnotes.