Tomb, others honored for efforts in the arts
The suspense has been lifted. Next, it’s time for the glamour.
The traveling presentation of the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania takes place nine weeks from now at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, and the slate of award winners announced Thursday in Indiana is heavy in representation of western Pennsylvania talent and advocacy for the arts.
At the center of the celebration of the arts and its value to the state is local attorney Myron Tomb, who will be honored in his hometown with the arts award for Leadership & Service, recognizing his advocacy for arts education across the state.
Susan Corbett, wife of Gov. Tom Corbett, revealed the winners at a program at the Jimmy Stewart Museum. Awards for Mark Pasquerilla, of Johnstown; Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum; and Robert Qualters, of Pittsburgh, add to the regional emphasis of the awards. Jennifer Higdon, of Philadelphia, has been chosen for the Distinguished Arts Award.
Corbett, the chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts — “the most engaged cultural leader we’ve ever had in her position,” said council director Philip Horn — said she shared a decade of service alongside Tomb on the Council on the Arts.
Tomb, a partner in the law firm Tomb, Mack, Kauffman & Fritz, sat on the arts council board from 1992 to 2011. He is being saluted “for his visionary work promoting the benefits of art in education for all Pennsylvanians. … Tomb chaired the council’s subcommittee on arts and education, and worked diligently to foster participation in the creative process in school and community settings,” Corbett said.
“Tomb’s tireless leadership helped build the council’s nationally recognized statewide infrastructure of exemplary cultural and educational organizations that serve as the council’s regional partners.”
Corbett said the partnership network provides artist residency programs, teacher training, workshops, professional development, and consulting and referral services, with goals of improving student performance and teacher effectiveness throughout Pennsylvania.
Tomb has served on the boards of the Indiana Arts Council, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Foundation for IUP. He received a Distinguished Alumni award from IUP in 2005.
The other award winners:
• Pasquerilla, the president of Pasquerilla Enterprises and former president of Crown American Corp., recipient of the Patron Award, “has extended and deepened the family tradition of arts and cultural giving with his own leadership and service,” Corbett said. “He believes, as do we, that arts and culture serve as a vital and vibrant infrastructure of a community.” He is being recognized for his family’s support of the Johnstown Area Heritage Associations, Pittsburgh Opera, River City Brass Band and the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
• The Andy Warhol Museum, the Arts Innovation Award, coinciding with its 20th anniversary celebration this year. The museum, through a redesign of its galleries, intends to “both engage and educate guests so that everyone leaves with a true understanding of who Andy was and why he matters so much,” Corbett said. “The museum attracts diverse audiences that are able to creatively interact with Andy’s art and life. It is constantly changing and redefining itself.” Most recently, the museum has commissioned creation of PDA apps enabling users to turn photos into virtual silkscreen prints like those created by Warhol.
• Qualters, a painter, installation artist and printmaker, has been named the Artist of the Year by the governor.
“Earlier this year, a celebration of his career and legacy started with a retrospective exhibition titled ‘Robert Qualters Alive’ at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts,” Corbett said.
His work includes traditional painting, murals and collaborations with other Pittsburgh-area artists, and his career has been celebrated in an autobiographical book and a documentary film, produced in honor of his 80th birthday, according to Corbett.
She cited art executive Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, who hailed Qualters, “possessed of distinctive style and palette, (his) work stands as rich testimony to his long life of observations matched by great powers of avocation.”
• Higdon, a winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for her composition “Violin Concerto,” will receive the Distinguished Arts Award as one of America’s most frequently performed living composers.
Her works have been commissioned and performed by orchestras around the world and recorded on three dozen CDs, Corbett said.
“Miss Higdon’s commitment to the highest level of artistic achievement and the quality of her work across a diversity of musical genres has earned her many national and international honors,” Corbett said. “A gifted teacher, she has inspired a generation of young composers and musicians at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.”
The Council on the Arts annually presents thousands of dollars in grants to dozens of organizations across the state, and presents the Governor’s Awards as the highest recognition of contributions to the arts, honoring excellence by artists and support of arts by people and organizations in the state.
Gov. Richard Thornburgh instituted the award program in 1980 and included Indiana native actor James Stewart in the first class of honorees.
The council presented the awards in Harrisburg until 1996, and since then has moved the events from city to city across the state, according each town the nickname, “Pennsylvania Cultural Capital for a Day.” Indiana is the first university town selected to host the presentation.
The award ceremony is set for Sunday, Sept. 28, at Fisher Auditorium on the campus, giving the university a chance to showcase its growing IUP Performing Arts Center.
IUP Vice President Timothy Moerland said it’s fitting for the awards to be given this year at the university, because of the history of campus appearances by high-profile artists as speaker or performers, including past Governor’s Award winners Peter Nero, Bill Cosby and John Updike. Award winners Stewart, Fred Rogers and David McCullough had received honorary degrees from IUP.
“We are accustomed to hosting large-venue, big-name events at IUP. We’re ready,” Moerland said. “All of this might be impressive — and it is — but as the chief academic officer of the university, I am grateful for the opportunity because our students will have the opportunity to learn from the program.
“Many of them will be directly involved one way or another, and others will have opportunities to benefit from the arts activities on that day. These experiences fit in with our vision and our mission to provide students with real-life situations that enhance their experiences in the classroom.”