The finalists were chosen from 59 nominees, whose names were submitted after an open call issued last fall. Volunteer panels reviewed the nominations, assessing not only contributions to the arts, but also dedication to the arts and range of individuals or groups served by the nominee’s efforts.
The awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, in conjunction with the Office of the Governor. Arizona Citizens for the Arts advocates for arts and culture throughout the state. The annual awards, launched in 1981, have recognized more than 200 people to date.
Awards will be presented in several categories, recognizing contributions by individuals, organizations, businesses, community members, and philanthropists.
More than half of this year’s finalists are based in metro Phoenix, including three people nominated for the Artist Award.
Craig Bohmler composed the opera Riders of the Purple Sage, which Arizona Opera premiered in 2017. Julia Chacón founded Flamenco Theatre, which has performed in Arizona since 2013. Bobb Cooper is producing artistic director for Valley Youth Theatre, which was founded in 1989.
The Artist Award finalists were chosen from a group of nominees that also included Liliana Gomez, Ron May, Yvonne Montoya, Scott Spenner, Rashaad Thomas, Michael Vax, and Bobby Zokaites.
Several additional finalists are well-known to those who frequent the downtown Phoenix arts scene – including Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix Center for the Arts, and PSA Art Awakenings. Art Awakenings operates the Warehouse 1005 art space in Roosevelt Row, where people living with mental illness create and exhibit artwork.
Two Individual Award finalists have long ties to the metro Phoenix theater community. Hope Ozer has been a significant supporter for Valley Youth Theatre since heading its first board of directors. Vincent VanVleet has spent two decades as managing director for Phoenix Theatre.
Other finalists are based in Bisbee, Casa Grande, Tucson, Yuma, and Wickenburg.
Artist: Craig Bohmler, Julia Chacón, Bobb Cooper
Arts in Education (Individual): Edith Eubank, Erica Herman, Tate Rich
Arts in Education (Organization or School): Act One, Arts for All, Sounds Academy
Business (Large): Desert Financial Credit Union, Nationwide, The Storytellers Project
Business (Small): Benner-Nawman, Lisa Sette Gallery, Manley Films and Media
Community: City of Yuma/Littlewood Fine Art & Community Co-Op, Phoenix Center for the Arts, PSA Art Awakenings
Individual: Hope Ozer, Michael Fenlason, Vincent VanVleet
Finalists were announced during a reception for nominees, which took place at Park Central on February 8. Awards will also be given in two additional categories.
The 2019 Shelley Award will go to Joanie Flatt of Scottsdale, whose advocacy helped pass taxes supporting arts and culture in both Mesa and Tempe. She’s also served more than two decades on the board of directors for the Tempe-based theater company Childsplay. The award takes its name from Shelley Cohn, former executive director for Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Philanthropy Awards will be presented to two couples — Susan and Bill Ahearn of Phoenix, and Louise and James Glasser of Tucson.
Winners receive original works by Arizona artists. Event invitations and program feature artwork by Chandler-based Shachi Kale, whose watercolor landscape reflects her Indian heritage and fascination with the desert.
Governor’s Arts Awards Gala. 5 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 100 North First Street. Tickets are $300. Visit azcitizensforthearts.org.