Nine Kentucky artists and arts supporters were honored by Gov. Steve Beshear on Tuesday with the 2012 Governor's Awards in the Arts.
The awards, the highest arts honor in the commonwealth, were presented in the Capitol Rotunda, and recipients included two Lexington entities: Latitude Artist Community, an organization that primarily works with artists with disabilities, and the UK Healthcare Arts in Healing program, which has brought a wide variety of visual and performing arts in the new University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
"I'm not big on awards, but this is very gratifying," said Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at UK. "It seems to say we have accomplished what we intended to accomplish: making this an empathetic building. We've had such positive feedback on our art program, and this seems to be an affirmation of that."
UK Healthcare won the business award, which Karpf said was a little surprising because "people often don't recognize hospitals as businesses."
Latitude won the community arts award.
"To be recognized in that way as a community arts center is really touching," Latitude co-director Bruce Burris said. "In social services, we don't have that many opportunities for recognition — not that we do it for recognition, but it's nice."
Other honorees Tuesday included Lawrenceburg author Bobbie Ann Mason, who won the national award; Morehead music educator Christina Hartke-Towell, who won the education award; and Prestonsburg philanthropist and arts advocate William G. Francis, who won the Milner Award, the original Governor's Award in the Arts, which is considered the top prize.
Cecilia basket maker Leona Waddell won the folk heritage award; Owenton letterpress operator Gray Zeitz won the artist award; Louisville Courier-Journal music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett won the media award; and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, won the government award.
Each honoree received an original sculpture by Louisville artist Mark Needham as his or her award.
At UK Hospital, Karpf said, the piece — a sculpture of aluminum, plastic, glass and resin called Art Is the Tree of Life — will be displayed around the hospital with the hospital's many other original works of Kentucky art.
Burris said the piece will be part of a special day of celebration at Latitude on Wednesday, and he said the two Lexington winners will team up early next year with a Latitude exhibit at the hospital.
"It will be a look back at what we have accomplished over the last 12 years," Burris said. "So it was good to be honored with them and have that connection."