Vermont Arts Council

2018 Governor’s Arts Awards

The Vermont Arts Council, in association with the Governor’s office, recognizes outstanding individual and organizational contributions to the arts each year. Awards are given to educators, artists, performers, advocates, administrators, volunteers, and scholars. Honorees this year include two sculptors, a cartoonist, a photographer, a musician, and a poet. The Council will be recognizing the contributions of these Vermonters in five different categories during a celebration held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, November 14 at the Vermont State House in Montpelier (accessibility information). There is no admission fee, but we ask that you RSVP.

Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

Governor Phil Scott announced that sculptors Chris Miller and Jerry Williams would receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at a ceremony at the Vermont Granite Museum. Both artists have been working there on a new statue — Ceres, a representation of agriculture — that will be placed atop the State House in November. In presenting the highest honor for an artist by the state of Vermont the governor said, “Chris Miller and Jerry Williams are both talented artists who have had long and successful careers. Examples of their artistic excellence and skill can be seen throughout Vermont and the U.S. We also honor them for carrying on Vermont’s longstanding tradition of exceptional stone craftsmanship that is recognized around the world.”

ChrisMillerBW267sqChris Miller, Calais

Chris works in granite, wood, and marble, creating figurative and representational sculpture for indoor or outdoor installations. He began carving in 1976 and is largely self-taught. Chris studied art in college and then anatomy and sculpture with the late Lothar Werslin of Sandgate. He also pursued his interest in drawing and anatomy under the tutelage of Billy Brauer of Warren. He has worked alongside and collaborated with several of the country’s top stone sculptors. His work, in private collections and galleries in Vermont and New England, includes a September 11 memorial in Staten Island, New York; a topographical interpretive watershed table at the University of Massachusetts’ Dorchester Science Center; and a renowned 74-foot zipper at Studio Place Arts in Barre.

Jerry Williams, Johnson

Jerry has worked as a sculptor in central Vermont since 1986, when he established Barre Sculpture Studios following his apprenticeship with Frank Gaylord. He attended the fine art program at Northern Vermont University (formerly Johnson State College) and has since made art in bronze, granite, marble, limestone, slate, clay, and plaster. His practice is centered on public and private commissions of representational sculpture. His pieces, ranging from small scale to monumental, can be seen in locations across New England, Texas, and the greater Midwest.

Read more about the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts

Alison Bechdel, Bolton

Alison created the countercultural comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” which ran in lesbian and gay publications from 1983 to 2008. In 2006, she gained a wider readership with the publication of her graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” named Best Book of the year by Time Magazine. A musical based on “Fun Home,” written by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, won five Tony Awards in 2015, including best musical. In 2017, Alison was named Vermont’s third cartoonist laureate. She is a 2014 MacArthur fellow and is currently working on a graphic memoir called “The Secret to Superhuman Strength.”

Read more about the Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.

Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education

John Willis, Dummerston

John is professor of photography at Marlboro College. He was a co-founder of In-Sight Photography Project, a program offering free photography classes to Brattleboro area youth. He also co-founded the Exposures Project, a cross-cultural youth arts program. Willis received a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2011. His work is included in numerous permanent collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and, the National Museum of Native Americans. He has published two books, “Recycled Realities” and “Views from the Reservation.”

Read more about the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education.

Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy

Allison Coyne Carroll, Hinesburg

Allison is the director of Middlebury College’s acclaimed Performing Arts Series, curating visiting artist performances and residencies for the Middlebury community. She frequently serves as a grant panelist and advocates for the arts, specifically in regard to issues relating to cultural diplomacy, immigration, and taxation for artists from abroad. After studying music education and french horn at both the Manhattan and Crane Schools of Music, Allison worked as the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s chorus coordinator and assistant to director Robert DeCormier before joining the Middlebury staff in 1997. As a musician, she has performed with numerous Vermont ensembles, has been a featured vocal soloist, and has sung choral works on four record labels.

Read more about the Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy.

Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts

Judith Chalmer, Burlington

Judy began employing inclusive practices as a teacher of creative writing to nontraditional college students and seniors with disabilities. From 2005 to 2017, she was devoted to inclusive arts as executive director of VSA Vermont. She is the author of a collection of poems, and is co-translator of two collections of haiku and tanka. Her poems have been published in more than 50 journals or anthologies. In 2001 she received the Great Performances Award from the Onion River Arts Council for a dance-narrative she created with immigrants and refugees.

Read more about the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts.

Attend the November 14 celebration.