Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recognized the late Don Page, native of Glasgow, W.Va., and Cathey Crowell Sawyer of Lewisburg with the top honors, the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, for their significant accomplishments in the arts at the 2014 Governor’s Arts Awards gala on Thursday evening, March 13, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts presented the awards on the governor’s behalf. The event was hosted by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.
Page, who died this year at age 83, devoted more than 50 years of his life to promoting and developing arts and crafts in West Virginia. He was a coordinator of the state’s effort to train and assist craftspeople in the early 1960s, serving as the director of the arts and crafts division of the Department of Commerce. He was instrumental in establishing Hearth & Fair, the predecessor to Goldenseal magazine. Both publications were outgrowths of the state’s ongoing efforts to promote traditional crafts, tourism and economic development. The Mountain State Art and Craft Fair and the West Virginia Art & Craft Guild also began operating under his leadership. A skilled craftsman in 25 disciplines from tumbled gemstone jewelry to woodworking, Page was an early advocate and founding board member of Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. The industrial arts major from West Virginia Institute of Technology mentored many West Virginia artisans.
Sawyer, of Lewisburg, has worked with the Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s (GVT) board of directors and local community and state leaders to secure funding to expand the GVT from a summer operation performing in a temporary structure into a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Lewisburg. Today the facility serves as the theatre’s primary performance venue and a hub for community activities. Sawyer has served as the theatre’s artistic director since 1992, and helped launch its reputation for excellence to the national level. The long-time vocalist for the West Virginia Jazz Orchestra, actress, playwright, director and former Rotarian of the Year also developed educational classes for children ages 4 – 18 and cooperative programs with local schools and classes at New River Community and Technical College.
Other awards presented include the “Distinguished Service to the Arts “ award to Carnegie Hall and John Gillispie; “Leadership in the Arts” award to the Community Music Association in Charleston and Susan L. Adkins of Lewisburg; “Arts in Education” award to the Clay Center Explore and Soar 21st Century Community Learning Center in Charleston and Sandra Shaw of Beckley; and “Artist of the Year” award to Barrie Kaufman and Nina Denton Pasinetti, both of Charleston.
Distinguished Service to the Arts
Carnegie Hall, in Lewisburg, annually serves more than 75,000 patrons with live performances by outstanding companies and artists from around the world, award-winning arts in education progamming, classes and workshops, fine art exhibits and more. The performance hall has operated as a regional center for the visual and performing arts since 1983, with such notable performers as Taj Mahal, Gillian Welch, Isaac Stern, Ralph Stanley and George Winston.
John Gillispie uses his journalism experience, originality and creativity to produce award-winning commercials, posters, event invitations and more to promote the Huntington Museum of Art, where he has served as director of public relations for nearly 15 years. The former newspaper reporter is a professional advisor to Marshall University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and writes a weekly column for The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington. He is an occasional soloist with the Sacred Heart Church Choir in Huntington, has twice been a member of the Marshall University Choral Union and served as an adjudicator for several Huntington Dance Theatre productions.
Leadership in the Arts
The Community Music Association in Charleston is celebrating its 80th anniversary of bringing national and international entertainment to West Virginia. Generations of West Virginians have been able to experience the beauty of ballets, operas, symphonies, soloists and more at affordable prices because of the association’s commitment to the arts. Its performances have included pianist Arthur Rubinstein, soprano Beverly Sills and one of the most popular operas of all time, La Boheme.
Adkins, a music teacher and executive director of Carnegie Hall, played a key role in expanding the performance hall’s arts and education programs and updating the venue to include a state-of-the art sound system and energy-efficient lighting while maintaining its historic integrity. She helped raise the hall’s operating budget so its programs now serve thousands of people annually with activities such as Kids’ College, Ivy Terrace Concert Series, Mainstage Performance Series and Carnegie Children’s Choir.
Arts in Education
The Clay Center Explore and Soar 21st Century Community Learning Center is using STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) through art and science integration to improve grades, increase test scores and supplement classroom learning. Students receive one-on-one tutoring, homework help and special apprenticeship opportunities with professional artists, scientists and business leaders. They also take educational trips to the Clay Center to enjoy performances that have included Kevin Reese in Apollo to the Moon; the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Concerts of Stories and Legends and Jungle Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.
Shaw is an award-winning artist who has been a visual art teacher for 34 years and was named the West Virginia Art Education Association’s Art Educator of the Year in 2007 and 2013. As the current Fine Arts Department Chair at Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, Shaw is known for instilling a love of learning in her students and bringing art to life. She has twice served as a delegate to the National Art Education Association’s national convention and twice as president of the West Virginia Art Education Association.
Artist of the Year
Kaufman, of Charleston, is an award-winning artist, Mountaineer Montessori School art teacher and an art therapist. She has used art to help child victims of abuse heal while encouraging hundreds of adults to unlock their creative passion. Kaufman developed a program to bring art to nursing homes in West Virginia and worked with the late African-American poet and playwright Elaine Blue of Huntington to illustrate issues of homelessness and abuse. Trained as a printmaker and painter, she is expanding her creative talents to include glass. She is one of the state’s most accomplished and internationally-shown artists; her work has been featured in Taiwan, Australia, Sweden, Canada and the United States.
Denton Pasinetti has been passionate about the arts since the age of five, when she began studying ballet. While attending Morris Harvey College, she spent her summers studying with the National Ballet of Canada, Ballet West in Colorado, and the Cecchetti Ballet Council of America in Michigan. A former Miss West Virginia and high school math teacher, Denton Pasinetti opened the Ballet and Musical Theatre Dance Arts Inc., originated the Appalachian Youth Jazz-Ballet and served as president of Dance West Virginia, where she arranged master classes and dance scholarships to professional schools for talented dancers throughout West Virginia. She became a choreographer for the Charleston Light Opera Guild in 1971 and its artistic director in 1983.
The evening’s program included performances by the Appalachian Children’s Chorus under the direction of Selina Midkiff; Capital High School Dance Company under the direction of A. Michelle Legg; Greenbrier Valley Theatre Cabaret with artistic director Cathey Crowell Sawyer; Grace Pritt, the 2013 Poetry Out Loud Runner-Up; Kari Safford Blankenship, Miss West Virginia 1996; and the Cabell Midland Jazz Knights under the direction of Timothy James.
For more information, contact Renée Margocee, director of arts for the division, at (304) 558-0240, ext. 145.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
– 30 –
Media Note: Photos of the Governor’s Arts Awards gala are available from our website at http://wvculture.zenfolio.com/gaa