In town: Governor’s Arts Awards celebrate real treasures

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Lillie-Beth Brinkman

American poet laureate Joy Harjo and Emmy-winning actress and singer and Tony Kristin Chenoweth will be among the winners at the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Awards at the Oklahoma Capitol at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Harjo will be named as Oklahoma’s 14th cultural treasure, and Chenoweth will be named Oklahoma’s seventh cultural ambassador at the ceremony on the Capitol’s fourth-floor rotunda, according to a press release. Neither designation is given each year.

In addition to Harjo and Chenoweth, the Governor’s Arts Awards will recognize 14 individuals and three organizations that contribute to the arts in Oklahoma. These include: Barbara Smith of Miami, who will receive the Governor’s Award; Ambler Architects, Bartlesville, Business in the Arts Award; Dennis Spielman, Norman, Media in the Arts Award; and Bob Blackburn, Oklahoma City, and Lonnie Yearwood, Colony, The George Nigh Public Service in the Arts Award.

The recipients of the Arts in Education Awards are also Ashley Wells, The Village; Bring back the music, Spencer; Hui Cha Poos, Edmond; and Randy Tinker Smith and Jenna Smith LaViolette, Pawhuska. Community service awards will go to Alberto Rivas, Lawton; David Hornbeek, Edmond; Dian Jordan, broken bow; Donald Moore, Okemah; Red Dirt Relief Fund, Tulsa; and Wallace Owens, Guthrie. Harvey Pratt, Guthrie, will receive the Special Recognition Award.

Oklahoma Arts Council Executive Director Amber Sharples said in the press release that Harjo and Chenoweth represent the influence of Oklahomans on the global arts and culture scene.

“The Oklahoma Cultural Treasure and Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador designations are reserved for those who have shaken the lines in their respective artistic disciplines nationally and internationally,” said Sharples. “It will be an honor to add their names to these exclusive designations of individuals who have garnered Oklahoma’s positive attention around the world for the excellence our state has produced in the arts.”

Harjo is an internationally renowned artist and writer from the Muscogee Nation who is fulfilling her third term as the 23rd United States Poet Laureate. She is the first Native American to have obtained this designation. She is the author of nine books of poetry, several plays, children’s books and two memoirs, and she has produced seven award-winning music albums.

Chenoweth’s career includes film, television, voiceover, and stage. She won an Emmy Award for her role in Pushing Daisies, a Tony Award for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch in Wicked. In 2015, Chenoweth launched the annual Kristin Chenoweth Broadway Bootcamp in partnership with the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center for students to train with professionals from Broadway, film, and the stage.

To note

In Tahlequah, Northeastern State University will dedicate a new monument Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Veterans Day to honor those who served the country in the military. The plaza and monument “NSU Veterans: Serving and Communicating Through the Decades” will be unveiled east of the seminar hall, near the roundabout in front of the Performing Arts Center. The unveiling will include a small Veterans Day ceremony featuring Brig. Jon Harrison, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Oklahoma National Guard and former student of the NSU.

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