JAHC names Mayor's Awards for the Arts recipients

The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council has announced the selection of the recipients for the Seventh Annual Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, to be presented at the Sunday Wearable Arts Extravaganza on Feb. 9 at 3 p.m., at Centennial Hall.


Here are this year’s honorees.

• Artist: Dan Fruits

Dan Fruits has been painting in and around Juneau since 1991 after touring the state through the 1970s and ‘80s as an Artist in the Schools. He taught at the University of Alaska Southeast as well as in schools around the state. His works in oils and acrylics are included in the Alaska State Museum’s permanent collection, where he has exhibited his work. He has also exhibited several times at the Juneau City Museum.

• Arts in Education: Jan Neimeyer (awarded posthumously)

The late Jan Neimeyer inspired, motivated and supported scores of Juneau students throughout her teaching career. She began teaching with the Juneau Indian Studies program, sharing Northwest Coast art and culture in elementary classrooms, and transitioned into working with secondary students at Juneau Douglas High School, and then at Thunder Mountain High School as it was created. She taught ceramics, graphic arts, printmaking, and photography. The original, progressive vision for Thunder Mountain, as a collaborative, creative venue with “houses” of students working on thematic studies appealed to Neimeyer’s creativity and commitment to meaningful, relevant, student-centered education.

Neimeyer had the opportunity to design and teach digital arts at Thunder Mountain, developing a program that had a statewide reputation. During that time her students participated and competed in “real world” projects, with the world expanding from Juneau to Beijing. They created tennis shoe designs in the VANS shoe contest. They designed the plaques that go with the Taylor White car, where Niemeyer was “proud of my students with their final designs, but more importantly, for their empathy, thoughtfulness and compassion for all those involved.”

Her students submitted designs in the National Doodle contest for GOOGLE, and the Adobe Imagination Photoshop Contest. After several weeks of immersion in animation software with visiting Artist in Residence Averyl Veliz her students produced movies that received honors at a state sponsored technology contest for teachers. Thunder Mountain received $10,000 as a result, and student projects were showcased at the International Student Film fest in Shanghai as well as at our own JUMP festival in Juneau.

In these and other projects Neimeyer was a fierce advocate for her students and for the arts. She strongly, consistently believed the arts are central to our humanity, that all students need the arts as part of their educational careers. She testified at School Board budget meetings, wrote grants to fund projects and professional development, joined state and national visual arts associations, wrote advocacy letters and spent hours contributing her voice and her ideas in meetings and conferences.

Neimeyer’s legacy in the Juneau School District will long endure — the energy with which she taught and worked with students in and outside of school, her caring advocacy for each and every student, including her own son, Igor, and her determination to make the arts important.

• Business Leadership in the Arts: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines supports local arts groups through continued and generous contributions of tickets and travel. Just in the past year, they have helped make it possible for numerous student groups to travel to Scotland, Japan, and California, to name a few, to participate in educational activities.

“Two Alaska Airlines Tickets” is a welcome and frequent raffle item throughout our community, including in the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council’s “Mile High Raffle,” a major fundraising effort for the organization.

• Visionary Application of the Arts: Mudrooms

Mudrooms takes everyday stories from ordinary people to create a community event that both helps bind people together and supports local charities. Now in its third year, the event is roughly based on an event held in Anchorage called Arctic Entries, which in turn is based on the Stoop Story Telling project in Baltimore. Held monthly during the winter, each event has a theme, begins at 7 p.m., costs $7 (which is donated to charity) and often includes music. Each story-teller has seven minutes to tell their tale. The events, which are regularly full, are now held at Northern Light United Church.

• Arts Organization: Juneau Symphony

Juneau Symphony celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Founded in 1962 by Cliff and Gladys Berge, the Symphony offers local musicians an opportunity to share their love of orchestral music with the community. Ten years ago, Kyle Wylie Pickett became the conductor, sharing his time between Juneau and North State Symphony in California. Under his direction, the Symphony grew significantly, and now enjoys large audiences throughout the season.

The Symphony also offers a Student Symphony that provides both young and old music students the opportunity to develop as musicians, often then transitioning to the regular symphony. And the organization supports music education in the schools by offering free concerts to 4th and 5th graders every year, and by supporting music scholarships for aspiring young stars.

• Patron for the Arts: Wendy Wolf and John Osborne.

Long-time resident Wendy Wolf served on the Board of Trustees for the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council from 1986 through 1996, serving as vice president for two years and as president for two years. She has dedicated much of her energy and leadership to improving and expanding the arts in Juneau, in particular serving as the chairperson for the City and Borough of Juneau’s Performing Arts Center Commission, an advisory committee to the Assembly on the need for performing arts space in Juneau. With her assistance, the Commission conducted a feasibility study for a Performing Arts Center. At the recommendation of that Commission the Assembly acquired the retired National Guard Armory, now known as the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

Wolf and her husband, John Osborne, continue to advocate for a performance facility designated for the arts in Juneau: Their support takes tangible form this year with a commitment of a contribution to the Willoughby Arts Complex project in the amount of $10,000.

• Volunteer for the Arts: Lyle James

Lyle James founded and directs the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group, whose mission is to perpetuate and preserve the Southeast Alaska Native cultures, languages, traditions and values through storytelling, drumming, song and dance. Through dances and drumming, the group shares both contemporary and traditional knowledge and encourage family and community participation, instilling cultural pride and respect. The group performs regularly at celebrations and ceremonies throughout the community.

James grew up in Hoonah and Kake, is of the Kaagwaantaan and Kiks.adi clans. He teaches Alaska Native Song and Dance at the University of Alaska Southeast and spends much of his time teaching language, song and dance at summer culture camps, in the schools. He has also served as a cultural specialist with Goldbelt Heritage.

• Lifetime Achievement in the Arts: Sharron Lobaugh

Sharron Lobaugh has been a practicing artist in oils, prints, and watercolors in Juneau since 1964. One of the founding members of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Lobaugh also served on the Alaska State Council for the Arts board. A teacher in the Juneau High School and the University of Alaska Southeast, she also has led numerous workshops in watercolor through out the state.

Her work is included in major Alaskan collections such as the City and Borough of Juneau; University of Alaska, Juneau and Fairbanks; and Alaska Pacific University; and the Alaska State Museum. Pieces of her work were selected by the Alaska Council on the Arts for the Alaska Art Bank and for several major exhibits sponsored by the State including the Governor’s Art Exhibits and the Alaska Smithsonian Exhibit.

Two pieces of Lobaugh’s work can be seen on board vessels of the Alaska Marine Highway system which were obtained as part of the 1 Percent for Art program. Her work has been included in numerous juried exhibits, garnering many awards. Most recently, the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council opened its 40th Anniversary Season with an exhibit of paintings of Juneau done through the years by Lobaugh.

For more information, call Nancy DeCherney at 586-2787.


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