March 19, 2009
Governor’s Arts Award Recipients Announced
Awards will be presented on April 14 at the War Memorial Auditorium
NASHVILLE - - Tennessee’s highest honor in the arts will be awarded April 14 to eight recipients that exemplify the state’s finest cultural traditions. Established in 1971, the Governor’s Arts Awards will be presented by Governor Phil Bredesen and First Lady Andrea Conte in a special ceremony produced by the Tennessee Arts Commission.
“The 2009 recipients represent the very best from the state’s arts community,” says Rich Boyd, executive director of the Commission. “The awards recognize the highest excellence and the public value of the arts in Tennessee.”
Recipients were selected from 56 nominees to receive awards in three different categories. The Folklife Heritage Award recognizes folk artists or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to artistic tradition. The award is intended to honor long-term achievements within art forms that are rooted in the traditional culture of Tennessee.
Receiving Folklife Heritage Awards are Robert Belfour of Memphis, a powerful blues singer and guitarist who represents the folk blues tradition of the Mid-South region; Charles J. Horner, who lives outside of Rockwood in the Westel community of Cumberland County , is a renowned maker of fiddles and mandolins; and Newberry & Sons Chairs, whose Macon County family tradition preserves much of the 19th century approach to chairmaking.
Arts Leadership Awards will be presented to Jack Murrah of Chattanooga, and Molly Leach Pratt of Nashville. Recipients in this category may come from arts organizations, business, educators, patrons, arts administrators, corporations, or volunteers who have demonstrated significant support or participation in activities which foster excellence in, appreciation of, or access to the arts throughout the state.
For over 30 years, Jack Murrah led Chattanooga, the state, and region in forceful new directions in art and culture. He influenced the way Tennesseans live in cities, how children are educated, and how artists are supported. Through his work with the Lyndhurst Foundation in Chattanooga, his grant making has been bold, creative, wide-ranging and change oriented, yet his vision, insights and guidance have been just as important.
Molly Leach Pratt, an esteemed and enduring arts advocate, has donated enormous amounts of personal and professional time to arts-related causes. She has impacted the arts across the state by completing a five-year term on the Tennessee Arts Commission, during which time she served as secretary, vice-chair, and chair. She has also served on the Metro Nashville Arts Commission as chair. She is currently serving on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Board. The impact of her advocacy and leadership will be felt in Tennessee and beyond for years to come.
The Distinguished Artist Award recognizes artists of exceptional talent and creativity in any discipline, who over the course of a career, have contributed to the arts and have helped guide and influence directions, trends, and aesthetic practices on a state or national level.
Three outstanding Tennessee artists have been named as recipients of the Distinguished Artist Award. They are: John Baeder of Nashville, one of America’s most admired realist painters, known for his paintings of isolated roadside diners and eateries; Cherry Jones, born and raised Paris, Tennessee, one of the foremost theater actresses in the United States who currently portrays the first female president on the Fox television series 24; and Bets Ramsey of Nashville, who has a long distinguished career in the quilt world in many roles as a curator, educator, historian, writer, project director, organization founder, and award-winning fiber artist.
The recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards will be honored at an invitation-only reception on Tuesday, April 14 at the War Memorial Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The awards will be presented by Governor Phil Bredesen during a special ceremony later that evening.
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