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City of Seattle
Mike McGinn (former Mayor)
SUBJECT: Mayor announces 2012 Mayor's Arts Awards recipients
6/5/2012  11:00:00 AM
Lori Patrick  (206) 733-9764

Mayor announces 2012 Mayor's Arts Awards recipients
10 honorees mark 10th anniversary of award, ceremony and
preview of Bumbershoot Visual Arts Exhibits set for Aug. 31

SEATTLE - Mayor Mike McGinn today announced the recipients of the 2012 Mayor's Arts Awards. To mark the 10th anniversary of the award, 10 recipients will be honored this year.

The honorees include three individuals and seven organizations: two dancer/choreographers, a public artist, a producer of theatrical wonders, a nonprofit acting studio, an all-ages arts venue, an alternative radio station, a cinema with a focus on LGBT film, a nonprofit literary organization and a performance group of youth from the Duwamish Tribe.

The Seattle Arts Commission recommended the recipients from a pool of more than 500 public nominations. The Mayor's Arts Awards recognize the contributions made by artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members who make a difference through arts and cultural activities.

"Seattle's creative energy is one of the many qualities that make it a great city. The arts inspire and connect. They are also good for our economy, creating jobs and generating revenue." said McGinn. "This year's award recipients reflect the diversity of arts and culture in our city and together demonstrate a commitment to access for all to enjoy and participate in the arts."

The honorees are:

  • Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio
  • KEXP 90.3 FM
  • Li Hengda, choreographer, dancer and artistic director
  • Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders
  • Seattle Arts & Lectures
  • Buster Simpson, public artist
  • Three Dollar Bill Cinema
  • TilibSedeb (Singing Feet), Duwamish Tribe youth performance group
  • The Vera Project, all-ages arts venue
  • Olivier Wevers, dancer, choreographer and artistic director

The recipients will be honored at the Mayor's Arts Awards ceremony, noon, Friday, Aug. 31 at Seattle Center on the North Fountain Lawn. Presented in partnership with Bumbershoot: Seattle's Music & Arts Festival, the outdoor, public awards ceremony will also mark the official opening of Bumbershoot's 2012 Visual Arts Exhibits. The free public preview of the exhibits will follow the ceremony and take place from 1 to 9 p.m. in the Seattle Pavilion and the Fisher Pavilion. The broader festival gets underway Sept. 1.

Bumbershoot's Visual Arts & Spectacle program will celebrate "The Past, The Present and The Future" of Bumbershoot's home, Seattle Center, which is in the midst of a Next 50 celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

The exhibits will include "Skyward!", contemporary artwork and installations inspired by the 1960s futuristic theme of life in the sky, curated by Shelly Leavens and Jana Brevick; "This is Glass," glass art depicting the experimental nature of the studio glass movement in the Pacific Northwest, curated by Sarah Traver and Grace Meils; and "NOW," a large-scale, suspended neon sculpture designed by Dylan Neuwirth. Curator Beth Sellars will present a tribute exhibition to the late, urban plein-air painter Christopher Martin Hoff, who died earlier this year; Elvis experts and curators Marlow Harris and JoDavid will present an "ELVIStravaganza" of art, music and performance; and Seattle Art Museum and Olson Kundig Architects will present "SAM Record Store," a vinyl record collection intended to serve as a "storefront of ideas."

Bumbershoot's Visual Arts Exhibits and the 2012 Fine Arts Poster, featuring artwork by Seattle artist James Martin, are presented with support from the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

The Mayor's Arts Awards are nonmonetary. To reflect the diversity of artistic achievement throughout the city, the awards do not have set categories. For more information about the Mayor's Arts Awards, including past recipients, visit

The Mayor's Arts Awards are presented in partnership with media sponsor City Arts, a free monthly magazine that covers art, music, film and everything creative in the Puget Sound region, and awards sponsor Chihuly Garden and Glass, a new art experience showcasing the most significant works of internationally acclaimed artist and pioneer Dale Chihuly.

The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs promotes the value of arts and culture in communities throughout Seattle. The 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council, supports the city agency.

2012 Mayor's Arts Award recipients

Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio
Freehold Theatre Lab/Studioengages people from all walks of life in cultivating audacity of spirit through the practice of theater. A creative haven since 1991, Freehold is a thriving collective of artists, teachers and students collaborating to explore both the mind and the heart. Through education, experimentation and performance, Freehold works toward a theater practice that illuminates the human condition and serves the full, diverse spectrum of the theater community. Freehold provides a place that nurtures risk in all aspects of the practice. Freehold is a laboratory for working professionals, a studio for emerging artists, and above all, a destination where anyone with an inquisitive spirit can join in the celebration of the inherent risk of being human.KEXP 90.3 FM
KEXP 90.3 FM is more than a radio station – it's a dynamic arts organization that provides rich music experiences on air, online and on the streets. KEXP's unique services benefit music lovers, artists and the arts community. Beginning as a tiny 10-watt station in 1972, KEXP has grown into an innovative, influential cultural force in the Seattle community and beyond that brings national attention to Seattle as a music city. KEXP's programming features variety and specialty shows with the emerging sounds and long-time favorites from the Pacific Northwest, the country and throughout the world. Artists championed by KEXP are not typically supported by traditional media outlets. They are inventive, contemporary musicians creating new work in popular genres that include rock, hip hop, reggae, country, Latin, modern global and more.

Li Hengda
Choreographer and artistic director Li Hengda fuses Chinese and Western dance to form a unique dance style. Founder of the American Asian Performing Arts Theatre and Hengda Dance Academy in Seattle, Li has created more than 20 popular dance works and directed 25 large-scale professional performances combining local and international Chinese artists together to promote the Chinese performing arts. Performances have included the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Performance in 2008 and the world-class performances of the China National Acrobatic Troupe in 2009. Officially recognized in China as a "National Premier Dancer" in 1987, Li was a main soloist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet from 1991 to 1996. Li was also a recipient of the 2011 Artist Trust Fellowship award for his exceptional original work and its impact on the community.

Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders
Lucia Neare is artistic director of Lucia Neare's Theatrical Wonders. Since 2006, her company has created acclaimed, free, large-scale, site-specific theatrical works, bringing living dreams to thousands of audience participants. These site-based, participatory, outdoor performances involve hundreds of performers, giant set pieces, larger-than-life costumes, and live orchestra and dance. The works unfurl across the landscape of the city, its waters and the calendar year, drawing people of all ages into parks, beaches and urban thoroughfares. Works include Ooo La La: a May Day Spectacular, which transformed downtown Seattle into a grand corridor of delight in 2008, and Lullaby Moon, a year-long series of performances that brought bedtime whimsy to Seattle's public spaces on each new moon beginning in 2008.

Seattle Arts & Lectures
For 25 years, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) has presented transformative programs with acclaimed writers that foster diverse ideas, the imagination and a love of reading and writing. SAL's Literary Arts Series brings outstanding authors to Benaroya Hall's Taper Auditorium. SAL Presents features the best fiction and non-fiction writers speaking about their latest books at venues in Seattle and on the Eastside. The Poetry Series debuted in 2000, as did SAL U, offering courses for adults taught by distinguished University of Washington professors. Since 1994, Writers in the Schools (WITS) has placed local, professional writers in public school classrooms to develop writing and reading skills. WITS annually serves 5,000 students at 25 schools throughout the region and at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Buster Simpson
Buster Simpson, an active artist since the 1970s, has worked on major infrastructure projects, site master planning, signature sculptures, museum installations and community projects. Simpson is a recipient of numerous awards including National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and the Americans for the Arts Artist of the Year Award in 2009. Installations include Effluence of Affluence (1991) at Seattle Art Museum; Face Plate (1989) at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and Incidence (2003) at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Simpson often melds social and ecological issues into an aesthetic to inform lasting public works. Recent completed commissions include Bio Boulevard (2011) at the Brightwater Treatment Plant in Woodinville and Carbon Veil (2011) at SeaTac International Airport.

Three Dollar Bill Cinema
Since 1996, Three Dollar Bill Cinema has been the premiere arts organization representing LGBT film and media in the Northwest. The organization provides access to films by, for and about LGBT people and their families, and is a forum for LGBT filmmakers to share and discuss their work. Three Dollar Bill's chief program is the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Celebrating its 17th year, the 11-day festival has become the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and has garnered national recognition for showcasing extraordinary and award-winning work. Three Dollar Bill Cinema also hosts many film events for the community, including the free, summer film series in Cal Anderson Park, celebrating diversity in a family-friendly environment.

TilibSedeb (Singing Feet)
Singing Feetis the Duwamish Tribe's language and culture group. The youth group teaches the Duwamish Tribe, especially the children, their ancestral Puget Sound language Lushootseed and their heritage through singing, dancing, oratory and cultural traditions. Duwamish Tribe Chair Cecile Hansen founded the group in 2001 to instill Duwamish family and community values, recruiting Puget Sound Salish educator ?esweli (The Emerging One), alsoknown asZeke Zahir, to teach the Duwamish children their language and traditions. The group was founded on the belief that learning traditional values and taking pride in accomplishments can help youth avoid drug and alcohol addiction and become contributing members of their community and society. The group also presents to other First Peoples and the broader Seattle community.

The Vera Project
The Vera Project is an all-ages, volunteer-fueled music and arts venue. By engaging participants at all levels of music production and community organizing, Vera fosters a participatory creative culture through popular music concerts, arts programs, experiential learning and volunteer opportunities. Vera's programs focus on young people ages 14 to 24 and include audio engineering training, youth-driven governance, visual art exhibits, live and studio recording, leadership training, silkscreen printing/classes, event production training and weekly concerts. Vera's programs and volunteer-driven structure give youth the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions. Vera engages thousands in the arts, helps develop the future of the music industry and supports a vibrant Seattle culture.

Olivier Wevers
Choreographer and artistic director of contemporary dance company Whim W'Him, Olivier Wevers is a creative force in Seattle. One of Pacific Northwest Ballet's (PNB) most beloved dancers for 14 years, Wevers has performed lead roles in major classical ballets as well as contemporary works by the world's most noted choreographers. In 2009 he founded his dance company Whim W'Him. The company premiered at On the Boards to sold-out houses and critical acclaim. He has choreographed works for companies in the United States and abroad, as well as PNB and Spectrum Dance Theater. In 2011, he received a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship, a prestigious award given to only two choreographers in the United States each year. Presenting his work both locally and internationally, Wevers helps bring awareness to Seattle as a world-class center of dance.

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