Austin Visual Arts Awards
"And the Fearing goes to ..." II
For the sophomore presentation of the Austin Visual Arts Awards, the setting was changed, but the sentiment was much the same. The Austin Visual Arts Association, which sponsors the honors, shifted the ceremony from the Austin Museum of Art community room to a ballroom in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas campus, which relieved the congestion of the inaugural ceremony – to be fair, AVAA hadn't expected 250 people to show up – and gave it the ambience of a more traditional awards show. But the sense of community, the gratitude for Austin's welcoming inclusiveness best expressed last year by Beili Liu after being named Artist of the Year 3 Dimensional Art, was back. Artist of the Year Photography Santiago Forero, who moved here from his native Colombia in 2007, said that he feels more like an Austin artist after three years than he ever felt like a Colombian artist. In accepting the 2010 President's Award of Excellence, British artist Edward Povey said that he and his artist wife, Donna, moved here from Wales because of all the places they'd ever visited, Austin was "the most real."
Povey looked a bit gobsmacked when AVAA President Donna Crosby announced him as the recipient, which had been kept a secret (as had been the winner of the Service to the Arts Award, which caught this humble reporter completely off-guard, thus accounting for the overly long and rambling thank-you). But Povey was as charming on the receiving end of an award as he'd been on the giving end; in presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to the unstoppable 88-year-old Don Snell – who was at the ceremony despite having broken his hip just days earlier – Povey brought a top hat to the podium so he might literally take off his hat to Snell. He noted pointedly, however, that the award is in a sense premature, as Snell is "not yet done" – and seeing the vitality of this artist deep into his 80s may have sent more than one artist scurrying from the ceremony right back to the studio.
The Austin Visual Arts Awards, nicknamed "Fearings" in honor of longtime Texas artist Kelly Fearing, started this year with 100 nominations submitted from 16 area arts organizations, galleries, studios, media outlets, and museums. The artists receiving the highest scores were named finalists. A selection committee made up of seven arts professionals scored each finalist independently, and the artists with the highest scores were recognized with awards. The full list of winners is inset.
The 2010 Austin Visual Arts Awards Winners
Artist of the Year 2 Dimensional Art: Lance Letscher
Artist of the Year 3 Dimensional Art: Jade Walker
Artist of the Year Photography: Santiago Forero
Artist of the Year Early Career: Carlos Rosales-Silva
Artist of the Year New Media: Ryan Hennessee
Collectors Circle Award: Ken Hale
Art Patron of the Year: Mike Chesser
Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Snell
Service to the Arts Award: Robert Faires
President's Award of Excellence: Edward Povey