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Austin Visual Arts Awards

The first class of Fearings

By Robert Faires, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009

Bob Daddy-O Wade
Bob "Daddy-O" Wade

For a time, the first Austin Visual Arts Awards looked like they would be more about who wasn't present than who was. Kelly Fearing, the 91-year-old pioneering Texas modernist who was due to receive a lifetime achievement award (and whose surname was being taken for the awards' nickname), sent his regrets for the Dec. 4 ceremony, blaming his absence on the day's icy weather. That, alas, also deterred Peggy Frary, who was to accept a posthumous lifetime achievement award on behalf of her late husband, Michael, the great painter of Lone Star landscapes and Fearing's colleague on the faculty of the University of Texas Department of Art & Art History. Another lifetime achievement award in memoriam was presented to another UT art instructor and artist, Robert Dale Anderson, who died suddenly in May of this year. Will Klemm, recipient of one of the first President's Awards of Excellence, as selected by Austin Visual Arts Association President Bill Keese, was missing, as were Michael Smith and Roberto Guerra, 2009 Artist of the Year winners in the categories of new media and photography, respectively. The 250 people packed into the Austin Museum of Art – Downtown conference room took all their absences in stride, however, preferring to focus on the fact that the city's visual-arts community was at long last gaining some recognition for its work. And as it turned out, there were plenty of honorees in the house, including Bob "Daddy-O" Wade, who accepted the Collectors Circle Award, joking that it was going to him because he was the oldest guy in the room. Keese, who had made it something of a personal mission to establish the awards, expressed pleasure with the large turnout – AVAA had expected about 100 attendees – and told the crowd to expect next year's event to be bigger and better.

The 2009 Austin Visual Arts Award Winners

Artist of the Year 2 Dimensional Art: Erin Curtis

Artist of the Year 3 Dimensional Art: Beili Liu

Artist of the Year Photography: Roberto "Bear" Guerra

Artist of the Year New Media: Michael Smith

Heather Tolleson
Heather Tolleson

Artist of the Year Early Career: Heather Tolleson

Collectors Circle Award: Bob "Daddy-O" Wade

Service to the Arts: Jana Swec, Shea Little, Joseph Phillips for East Austin Studio Tour

President's Award of Excellence: Will Klemm, Roi James

Arts Patron of the Year: Becky Beaver

Lifetime Achievement: Kelly Fearing

Lifetime Achievement in Memoriam: Robert Dale Anderson

Lifetime Achievement in Memoriam: Michael Frary and Peggy Frary

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