Vermont Arts Council Announces 2022 Vermont Arts Awards | Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Arts Council Announces 2022 Vermont Arts Awards


Published August 1, 2022 at 5:34 p.m.

  • Courtesy of Vermont Arts Council
  • Larry Bissonnette
Six Vermont artists, arts educators and advocates for the arts are winners of the 2022 Vermont Arts Awards, the Vermont Arts Council announced on Monday. The award recipients include a visual artist and disability rights advocate from Williston; a dancer, choreographer and educator based at Middlebury College; and a Burlington radio DJ.

Two people received this year's Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts: Larry Bissonnette, the visual artist and advocate from Williston, and Jarvis Green of White River Junction. Green is founder and artistic director of JAG Productions, an African-American theater company in the Upper Valley and New York City.
  • Courtesy of Vermont Arts Council
  • Jarvis Green

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts is “the most distinguished recognition bestowed by the State of Vermont,” according to the arts council’s press release. “[I]t is reserved for Vermont artists who have had a profound impact on their field within the state of Vermont and beyond.”

In the press release, Gov. Phil Scott spoke directly to each recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Of Bissonnette, Scott said: "Your art and story are truly inspiring, showing strength and resilience, and setting an example for all."

Talking about Green, the governor said: "Your work is most deserving of this recognition. With the creation of JAG Productions, you have helped elevate Black voices and added to Vermont's culture."

Christal Brown, associate professor of dance at Middlebury, is winner of the 2022 Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. Each year the award is given to a person who has “made a sustained contribution to the arts and had an impact on Vermont’s cultural life,” according to the release. Brown is a teacher, dancer and choreographer,  and founder of INSPIRIT, Project: Becoming.

Brown, who moved from New York City, where she was a performing dancer, to Middlebury to teach at the college, said the award is a "distinct honor."

"I understand that the cultural landscape of Vermont is built a lot on relationships and connections," Brown said. "And I really  feel honored to be weaved into the tapestry of the people who were here before me and doing amazing work — and honored to be recognized in a peer-to-peer type of way."

  • Courtesy of Elisabeth Waller
  • Christal Brown
In every sector of her life and work, Brown said she's guided by two core values: love and trust. "I don't do anything I don't love, and I don't work with people I don't trust," she said. 

The Walter Cerf Medal resonates for Brown, she said,  because it recognizes the "larger extension of my craft and gift: which is love, connection, communication and expression."

Judy Dow of Essex, won the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts. Dow is a basket weaver and teacher of “traditional Abenaki culture and native practices,” according to the release. She is executive director of Gedakina, an “organization that supports Indigenous youth, women and families across New England.”

Musician Robert Resnik of Burlington is the winner of the Margaret L. (Peggy) Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy.  For 26 years, Resnik has hosted “All the Traditions," a Vermont Public radio show that features folk songs and world music.

Eugene Uman of Brattleboro, a jazz pianist and composer and the director of the Vermont Jazz Center since 1997, is the recipient of the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education.

Karen Mittelman, executive director of the Vermont Arts Council, said the recipients of the arts awards are “testament to how incredibly rich and deep and diverse the pool of creative talent is in the state.”

Describing the scope and breadth of the winners' work and interests, Mittelman noted: “Vermont’s creative landscape is so much more diverse than people think. This year’s arts awards are an absolute testament to that.”

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