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Bluegrass, miniatures and Black history: 2022 Governor’s Awards in the Arts honorees announced

The flute award was designed by Fred Nez-Keams and is made from red cedar wood from Nez-Keams' home county of Mercer.
Kentucky Arts Council
The flute award was designed by Fred Nez-Keams and is made from red cedar wood from Nez-Keams' home county of Mercer.

Nine artists and organizations make up the 2022 Governor’s Awards in the Arts honorees. The Kentucky Arts Council oversees the annual awards.

“The Governor’s Awards is the commonwealth’s highest honor for the arts and recognizes Kentuckians who have positively influenced our cultural landscape,” Kentucky Arts Council vice chair Dior Cotten said Tuesday.

This year’s physical award is a wooden flute designed by Kentucky artist Fred Nez-Keams. Nez-Keams, a member of Navajo/Diné nation, is known for his handmade flutes and other works promoting indigenous culture and practices.

Nez-Keams used red cedar wood found in his home in Mercer County.

“Every flute I make carries a piece of me and where I come from,” Nez-Keams said.

Here are the 2022 honorees:

Milner Award: Kaye Savage Browning is the curator and creator of the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collections at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville.

The collection of miniatures Browning has created has become internationally known, but her passion for creating began in her youth in Maysville.

Her collection features miniature versions of working tools, Kentucky decorative arts and historic buildings.

Artist Award: Amanda Matthews wears many hats, including sculptor, CEO of Prometheus Art and chair of the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

Matthews's work consists of large-public pieces of art and places those pieces of art are housed. She said her work has been informed by people’s connection with the nature around them.

“We are all born from the same stars, sculpted from the same source and contain the same life,” Matthews said in her artist’s statement.

Business Award: Independence Bank has locations throughout the state including in Graves County where a deadly tornado hit in Dec. 2021.

The location in downtown Mayfield wasn’t heavily damaged by the tornadoes, but the surrounding businesses and the town itself were. The bank and its staff have worked to help the community recover.

This included the Horses of Hope Project, which aimed to bring attention to relief efforts and help monetarily support the Mayfield Graves County Art Guild.

Community Arts Award: Murray Art Guildwas established in 1967 by Calloway County residents with the aim of creating a space for local artists to make and sell their work.

Since then, the center where the guild operates from has expanded to include educational programming, exhibits and studio space for the community.

Education Award: Nan Moore worked at Louisville Male High School for 39 years leading the band. While there, she helped establish the program as one of the best in the country.

“It’s a privilege to watch these young people grow, not into better musicians, but into successful adults,” Moore said. “I think many of them have taken some of the skills that they learned in music class, taken them with them to become successful adults and I’m so proud of all of them when I see them.”

Following her retirement, Moore continues to guest conduct and serves as chair of the Kentucky Music Educator Association’s selective list committee.

Folk Heritage Award: Maxine Ray doesn’t want anyone to forget the historically Black neighborhood she grew up near Bowling Green.

The Jonesville community was destroyed in the 1960s by an expansion at Western Kentucky University. Ray used her time as a master’s student at WKU to collect the stories and memories of the people from Jonesville and another displaced Black community.

“I had no idea that my research I started over 40 years ago of my family and tracing my family tree would be used to help tell the history of the Jonesville community,” Ray said.

Government Award: Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission works to highlight the place and impact native communities had and continue to have on the state.

While there are no federally recognized native communities in the state, native history is inextricably linked to Kentucky history. .

The commission aims to ensure their place in the state is not erased through promoting and highlighting native art and culture.

Media Award: Morgan Cook Atkinson is a Louisville-based documentarian whose work largely focuses on Kentucky, including the state’s obsession with high school basketball.

Currently, Atkinson is working on a documentary about the Ohio River.

He said he focuses his work on the state and people because it enriches the lives of current residents.

National Award: Bobby Osborne is a well-known bluegrass musician hailing from Leslie County.

Alongside his brother, Osborne created the music group the Osborne Brothers. This group had firsts for the genre, including the first bluegrass group to perform at a college campus, at the White House and the first to win the Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year.

“I have devoted my life to bluegrass music, to country music, any kind of music,” Osborne said. “Other than my military duty, I couldn’t see me working anywhere else, especially with bluegrass music.”


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