press releases


May 02, 2008

contact: Doug Svetnicka, 505-827-4378
Department of Cultural Affairs

2008 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts

Eight artists and arts supporters will receive New Mexico’s highest artistic honor

SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson and First Lady Barbara Richardson, along with the New Mexico Arts Commission, have announced seven individuals and a high-profile classical radio station as recipients of the 2008 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

“This year’s recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts are artists and contributors who exemplify the energy and creativity of New Mexico,” said Governor Richardson. “I applaud their achievements and congratulate these outstanding artists.”

First Lady Barbara Richardson said, “The Governor and I celebrate this year’s award winners with the same enthusiasm that they bring to their work each and every day. Without these people and organizations, our lives would be less full, our communities less vibrant.”

The 2008 Governor’s Arts Awards recipients are:
Harry Benjamin of Silver City for Painting; Tammy Garcia of Santa Clara Pueblo for Visual Arts – Pottery, Sculpture and Glass; Jack Loeffler of Santa Fe for Ethnomusicology and Writing; Noel Marquez of Artesia for Painting and Mural Artistry; Eugene Newmann of Ribera for Painting; Alice “Ali” MacGraw of Tesuque – Major Contributor to the Arts; Eileen A. Wells of Santa Fe – Major Contributor to the Arts; and KHFM Radio 95.5 of Albuquerque – Major Contributor to the Arts.

The 2008 Governor’s Arts Awards ceremonies will be held on Friday evening, September 12, 5:15 to 7:00 pm at the St. Francis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe. The ceremony is preceded by an afternoon reception and exhibition opening, 3:00 – 4:30 pm, in the Governor’s Gallery, 4th Floor, State Capitol. Both the awards ceremony and gallery reception are free and open to the public.

The Governor's Arts Awards were established in 1974 by Governor Bruce King and First Lady Alice King to celebrate the enormous roles – both economic and cultural – that artists, craftspeople and arts supporters play in the life of New Mexico. During its 34-year existence, a diverse and prestigious list of painters, weavers, sculptors, dancers, musicians, storytellers, poets, actors, playwrights and potters have been honored. Past awardees include Georgia O’Keeffe, Laura Gilpin, Max Evans, Wilson Hurley, Joy Harjo, Bill Mauldin, John Nichols, Pablita Velarde and Cipriano Vigil.

Nominations for the awards are invited each year from arts groups and interested New Mexicans. All nominations are reviewed by a committee of the New Mexico Arts Commission, which sends its recommendations to the full Commission and to the Governor. The 2008 Awards Selection Committee consisted of Charmay Allred of Santa Fe as chairperson, Janice Spence of Hobbs, John Rohovec of Silver City, Glenn Cutter of Mesilla, Karen Cotter of Albuquerque and Chuck Zimmer, interim manager of the state public art program for New Mexico Arts. Loie Fecteau, executive director of New Mexico Arts, and media manager Virginia Castellano served on the committee in a nonvoting capacity.

Brief profile of Tammy Garcia, the 2008 Governor's Arts Awardee:
While it might seem unusual to give a lifetime achievement award to a 38 year-old, Taos artist Tammy Garcia’s accomplishments in introducing unique contemporary design to ceramics, jewelry, pottery and sculpture are unparalleled. Nominator Bob Nurock notes that the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis has held a retrospective of Garcia’s work and that the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. will have a major exhibition of Garcia’s work this coming August. “She will be the youngest featured artist ever in its history,” Nurock said. “Both of these bring wide recognition to the State of New Mexico.” Garcia is a descendent of the renowned Tafoya family of distinguished potters, and she learned her art from her mother Linda Cain and her grandmother Mary Cain. Garcia is also known for being an artist who gives back to the community. She donates works of art to benefit numerous nonprofits in New Mexico including the Buckaroo Ball and the Santa Fe Indian Market. Through her Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, she helps promote other Native American artists and organizes traveling shows in the major art markets in the United States, noted JoAnn Lynn Balzer in her letter of support. “I believe Tammy Garcia is one of the best artists working today – anywhere,” Balzer said. “Although firmly grounded in and informed by her pueblo heritage and tradition she has taken the art form into a new dimension. …She creates pottery and sculpture that are simply breathtaking and her talent seems to have no limit in expression of artistic creativity.”