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Governor’s Arts Award Winners Announced

Governor’s Arts Award Winners Announced

Governor Recognizes Educators, Arts Advocates with Arts Award

Tuesday, December 29, 2020/Categories: Montana Arts Council/Tags: Governor Bullock , Arts , Governor's Arts Awards , Montana Artists , Art , montana arts council , award , Sculpture in the Wild , Blackfoot Pathways



Press Release Issued by the Montana Arts Council                                                       
December 28, 2020
Agency Contact Information:
Eric Heidle                                                        
(406) 444-6133


Governor Recognizes Educators, Arts Advocates with Arts Award

Helena, Mont., December 29, 2020. Governor Steve Bullock is honored to announce Montana’s Governor’s Arts Award honorees for 2020. The awards are bestowed on those working in creative fields who demonstrate artistic excellence, dedication to Montana and ongoing contributions to its cultural community.

The Governor is proud to name the following honorees:

Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild, Sculpture Park in Lincoln

Patty Bergquist, Director of the Montana Art and Gallery Directors Association

Arlynn Fishbaugh, Retired Executive Director of the Montana Arts Council

Gordon McConnell, Artist, Curator, Writer

Willem Volkersz, Artist and Educator

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Governor’s Arts Award medals will not be presented in person at its traditional ceremony held at the Capitol in Helena. Recognition of each honoree’s career and his or her contributions to the arts, along with commentary by the fellow creatives and arts leaders who nominated them, will be distributed by the Montana Arts Council, and published in the Winter 2021 State of the Arts newspaper.

Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild has carved an unexpected and unique presence into its 26-acre space just east of Lincoln. Centered around a salvaged teepee burner used in Lincoln’s timber industry, Sculpture in the Wild currently includes 18 permanent, site-specific sculptural installations. In addition, it’s a teaching facility which hosts international artist-in-residency programs and school visits in which students build temporary sculptures of their own from materials found on site.

Patty Bergquist retires at the end of 2020 following 31 years as director of the Montana Art and Gallery Directors Association (MAGDA). During her tenure, she’s guided and grown MAGDA despite the gradual decline of national funding for touring shows, leading 10-15 such shows a year. Her commitment is all the more remarkable for the fact that her stewardship of MAGDA has happened in addition to Patty holding a second, full-time job and raising a family. “Patty is a state treasure,” writes Lu Shomate, past president and longtime MAGDA board member. “She literally is a walking, talking, first-class exhibition.”

Arlynn Fishbaugh served as the executive director for the Montana Arts Council from 1992 till her retirement in 2016, during which she became, in the works of Stephen Kalm, former dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Montana, “one of the most prominent arts administrators in the United States and a source of great pride for UM and the state of Montana.” This is borne out in her service as board president for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), board member for Grantmakers in the Arts and her collaborative approach to working with Montana’s legislature to promote the arts from an economic as well as aesthetic perspective.

“No one has done more for art in Montana – as an artist, curator, and all-around spark plug – than Gordon McConnell,” writes Mark Stevens, who nominated him for the Governor’s Arts Award. Gordon’s career as a curator would be impressive alone, having mounted more than 60 exhibits for the Yellowstone Art Museum and many more in Montana and Wyoming. But his own paintings add considerably to his legacy, having been shown throughout the west, nationally and internationally, and his written art criticism has been noted for its honesty and clarity.

Willem Volkersz has come along way as an artist and educator. His early childhood in the Netherlands was shaped during World War II and after immigrating to the United States began pursuing a career in art and arts education. He eventually came to Montana State University in 1986, directing its art department and teaching until his retirement in 2001. Volkersz’ mixed-media artwork, often incorporating wooden suitcases, neon, and bits of roadside Americana, attest to his travels across the US and worldwide and his responses, both humorous and somber, to the events he’s witnessed in his lifetime.

The Governor’s Arts Awards are administered by the Montana Arts Council, the state agency which supports the cultural and economic benefits of the arts for all Montanans. Past Governor’s Arts Awards honorees include Myrna Loy, Debra Magpie Earling, Ivan Doig, Kevin Red Star, Jessie Wilber and many other prominent Montana creatives. Similarly, organizations and institutions such as the Archie Bray Foundation, the Fort Peck Summer Theatre, the Missoula Art Museum, Montana’s Shakespeare in the Parks and the Yellowstone Art Museum have been honorees as well.

For more information about each of this year’s Governor’s Arts Award honorees, click the following link.

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