Mayor's Awards for the Arts recipients honored

The Mayor's Award for the Arts together on the stage of Organix Wearable Arts 2013.

The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council honored the recipients of the Sixth Annual Mayor’s Awards for the Arts on Sunday, during the second show of the Wearable Arts Extravaganza at Centennial Hall.


Mayor Merrill Sanford presented the award to each of the recipients.

Here are the JAHC’s descriptions of why each of these locals was honored with a Mayor’s Award.

Artist: Christy NaMee Ericksen, spoken word artist, is the creator and driving force behind the Wooosh Kinaadeiyi Poetry Slam, which brings 50-100 Juneauites of all ages together every month to share original poems and spoken word. The Woosh K Poetry Slams encourage expression, originality and passion in a supportive and environment. In 2011 Christy organized a poetry block party that over 800 people attended. She teaches spoken word and offers writing retreats in the schools and community, from elementary through adult aged students and teachers. She contributes passionately to building community through spoken word. She is a role model as an organizer and as an exceptional artist in her own right.

Arts in Education: Gastineau School fourth & fifth grade teacher Shgen George uses place-based arts to inspire children to learn history, social studies, and mathematics. She incorporates Tlingit language into the classroom, teaches geometry through weaving cedar bark baskets, and measurement through building bentwood boxes. Through using traditional methods of creating skin drums, from fresh hide to the completed painted instrument, Shgen helps children gain respect for the land and animals while also learning about history, social studies and storytelling through music and song. By thinking locally about how stories are told, her students gain a global understanding of how histories of different cultures and regions are kept. An accomplished artist herself, Shgen shares her talents to help young people in our community find meaning in their classroom studies through the arts.

Professional Leadership in the Arts: Amy Fletcher, editor of the Juneau Empire “Arts & Culture” section provides deep, comprehensive, well-written, well-researched coverage of the many arts events in our town. She actively seeks out information about events that may go otherwise unnoticed. The Empire’s commitment to the arts in our community is evidenced through this section under Amy’s direction. Strong journalistic support for the work that our artists do makes a significant difference at a local and at a broader level. Juneau is well-represented through her coverage of the arts.

Visionary Application of the Arts: Guo Hua Xia has been teaching young violinists in Juneau for 17 years. He currently teaches with Lorrie Heagy in the Juneau Alaska Music Matters program at Glacier Valley, inspiring our youngest students to take pride in their abilities, to strive to achieve. He continues his private instruction, building a cadre of talented young string players who now perform with the Juneau Symphony, who are continuing their studies in music, and who represent Juneau proudly. Over the years, he has taken two groups of students on tour of China, and is preparing to take a third group this coming summer, using music to provide bridges between countries. A talented violinist himself, he truly can hear the future in our children.

Arts Organization: Celebrating its 39th year as Alaska’s most amazing music gathering, Alaska Folk Festival brings musicians and fans from all over the country to Juneau each April, filling our halls, our homes, and our town with music. A week-long celebration with free performances, dances, breakfasts, workshops, and jams, this Juneau tradition is all volunteer driven, it features our friends and neighbors, and it is amazing. The Alaska Folk Festival truly transforms our town.

Advocate for the Arts: Bruce Botelho works tirelessly to promote the arts. It was his request, as Mayor, that prompted the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council to create these annual awards to shine light on the impact the arts have in our community. Bruce led the Assembly that agreed to open the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. He worked to help provide seed funding for the proposed expansion of the current facility. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the organization in the past, is on the Board of the Juneau International Folk Dancers, the Juneau World Affairs Council, and active in efforts to bring the Humpback Whale sculpture to completion. His inspirational comments opening Poetry Out Loud each year speak to the power he finds in the arts.

• Volunteer for the Arts: Kathy Ruddy is widely known and respected in the Juneau community for supporting and championing a large number of arts-related causes and organizations. It is difficult to name a Juneau arts organization with which Kathy is or has not been actively affiliated, as a Board member, a volunteer or an advocate. She has served on the Boards of the Juneau Symphony, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, the Alaska Youth Choir, was a founding Director of Juneau Jazz & Classics, where she continues to serve as Board Chair, she plays a leading role in the Alaska Whale Project and is deeply involved with Alaska Native Culture Projects.

Kathy epitomizes volunteerism by giving tirelessly and generously of her time, her talents, her intellect and her creativity. She has devoted thousands of hours as a passionate supporter and spokesperson for the arts in Juneau and I can think of no better way to recognize her significant contributions than by presenting her with the Mayor’s Award.

Lifetime Achievement in the Arts: Natalee Rothaus led the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council in its formative years, laying the foundation for the strong active arts community we now enjoy. She is an outspoken and positive voice for the arts and artists. She has been encouraging of young artists and supportive of all artists’ endeavors. She sees the artistic beauty in everything from the theatre and movies to print and conceptual art...and even includes being a judge for the Gastineau Humane Society Pet Fashion show in her many volunteer activities. She volunteers at the Jensen Olsen Arboretum, shares her expertise as a Master Gardener, and works to support and encourage Juneau’s creative spirit any way she can.

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