Gallery Beat

Gallery Beat

Julie Wolfe's "Meta 1" installation on the side of the Capitol Skyline Hotel, part of the "South Capitol Skyscape" series funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Public Art Building Communities grant program.
Julie Wolfe’s “Meta 1” installation on the side of the Capitol Skyline Hotel, part of the “South Capitol Skyscape” series funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Public Art Building Communities grant program.

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) has announced the special honorees and finalists of the 29th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. The awards are the highest honors conferred by the District of Columbia in recognition of artistic excellence and service.

For the last two decades or so, it has been my honor to serve as one of the advisory panelists to DCCAH on multiple panels dealing with artists’ awards, grants, fellowships, funds, etc. A constant and recurring surprise is the lack of participation by visual artists in these processes. And although some of these are restricted to DC residents, some (such as the Art Bank process) are open to all Greater DC area artists.

It is puzzling why visual artists are not a bigger piece of the submission process, and my personal theory (having dealt with visual artists for decades) is the common affliction of leaving everything to the last minute, and then it is too late.

Rachel Kerwin  Untitled Oil and image transfer on panel 7"x7" 2014
Rachel Kerwin
Untitled, Oil and image transfer on panel, 7″x7″, 2014

For the Mayor’s Arts Awards, special awards will be given to several individuals and organizations, recognizing their outstanding support to DC’s arts, entertainment, and creative industries. This year’s chosen finalists demonstrate the wide range of talent the District of Columbia arts community has to offer. Finalists were selected by the Mayor’s Arts Awards Advisory Jury comprised of prominent members of the District’s arts community with expertise in dance, music, theatre, literary arts, visual arts, arts service and arts education.

Those receiving special recognition are Dr. James Billington, The Librarian of Congress; Cathy Hughes, Chairperson, Radio One and TV One; Maida Withers, founder and artistic director of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company; Victor Shargai, theater advocate and interior designer, Victor Shargai and Associates Inc.; and Rebecca and Hugo Medrano, founders, GALA Hispanic Theatre.


The finalists for the 29th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards are:

Excellence in an Artistic Discipline
Children’s Chorus of Washington
DC Jazz Festival
The In Series
Washington Jewish Film Festival


Excellence in Service to the Arts
DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative
Washington Project for the Arts
Women in Film & Video


Innovation in the Arts
The Embassy Series
Lance Kramer
Urban Corps Transatlantic Urban Dance Festival


Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education
Washington Performing Arts Society
Young Playwrights’ Theater


Outstanding Emerging Artist
Tarik Davis
Rachel Kerwin
Alan Paul
Tommy Taylor Jr.


Excellence in Arts Teaching
Nakia Espinal
Bryan Hill
Garwin Zamora


“The District of Columbia is a national and international arts leader largely due to the drive and talents of our city’s artistic individuals and organizations,” said Mayor Gray. “This year’s nominees celebrate DC’s cultural capital and spotlight the significance of our city’s vibrant arts and entertainment community. Arts education, artistic service and the myriad contributions of local artists influence our city and make it a great place to create.”

“The Mayor’s Arts Awards celebrates the District’s thriving and diverse arts community,” said Judith Terra, Chair of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “The nominees represent the artists, arts organizations and educators who have made the District a world-class cultural capital.”

 “The Commission is proud to honor the District’s premier individual artists and arts organizations,” said Lionell Thomas, Executive Director of DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. “The District’s arts, entertainment and creative industries are booming, contributing to our sustainability and helping to make the city a better place to live, work and play.”

Written by: F. Lennox Campello 
Authors Note: The event took place on October 29th at the renowned Lisner Auditorium. Andrea Roane, Morning Anchor, WUSA 9, was host to the evening’s festivities.
Since the Crier went to press prior to the awards, I can’t let you in on who the winners are in this column, however, they will be posted on the website in the Gallery Beat section. –

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