State

Jordan Smith of ‘The Voice,’ a fiddler and a basket-weaver win governor’s arts awards

Harlan County native Jordan Smith, winner of the ninth season of “The Voice,” performed in June 2016 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington on one of the final dates on his inaugural headlining tour.
Harlan County native Jordan Smith, winner of the ninth season of “The Voice,” performed in June 2016 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington on one of the final dates on his inaugural headlining tour. rcopley@herald-leader.com

A winner of “The Voice” and a Lexington high school student are among the artists selected by Gov. Matt Bevin as recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

This year’s awards included two new categories, the Kentucky Arts Council announced Thursday.

Vocalist Jordan Smith, the Harlan County native who took top honors on “The Voice” two years ago, received a new award honoring an emerging artist, and Adrian Partridge, a senior at Henry Clay High School, received the first award in the Young Artist category.

The awards, a bit belated this year, honor people and organizations “whose contributions have raised the level of quality and awareness of the arts in the state,” according to a news release.

Jahi Chikwendiu, a native of Fayette County and a former Herald-Leader photographer who has been a staff photographer at The Washington Post since 2001, received the National Award.

Lexington Parks & Recreation received the Government Award.

Other winners included:

▪  Milner Award — Barren County businesswoman Ruthie Bale.

▪  Artist Award — Roger Cooper, a Lewis County fiddler.

▪  Business Award — Kroger-Louisville Division, Jefferson County

Community Arts Award — Norton Center for the Arts, Danville.

▪  Education Award — RiverPark Center, a performing arts and civic center in Owensboro.

▪  Folk Heritage Award — Jennifer Zurick, a basket-maker from Madison County.

▪  Media Award — Western Kentucky University Mountain Workshops, a visual storytelling training program based at WKU in Bowling Green.

Lexington artist Mary S. Rezny created the framed magnolia photo collage award that will be given to this year’s winners.

MaryRezny_Magnolia
Lexington artist Mary Rezny photographed magnolia blossoms in several seasons to create the collage to be given to recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Awards in the Arts. Kentucky Arts Council

“For the Governor’s Awards in the Arts, I chose to study a southern symbol that is very familiar to all of us, the magnolia tree,” Rezny said in a news release. “I am drawn to it because of the simplicity and beauty of the blossom and its most interesting and unusual seed pod. I photographed it throughout the spring, summer and fall as the blossom and seed pod developed. The collection is a study of a beautiful flower and the metaphor of transitory change.”

The awards ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 2 in the State Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.

The public nominates artists to receive the awards, and the Kentucky Arts Council coordinates the process, making recommendations to the governor.

The announcement for the 2017 awards came months later than is typical.

The 2016 awards were announced in August 2016.

Lydia Bailey Brown, the executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, resigned in September, less than a year into her tenure. Brown left to care for an aging relative who lives out of state. Chris Cathers is interim executive director.

Last year’s awards announcement was followed by a bit of a stir when The Affrilachian Poets declined the award, citing the governor’s stances on education, the humanities and universal health care, criminal justice reform and the LGBTQ community.

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