Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf Honor Recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Lancaster, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf this evening recognized the recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts during a ceremony at the Lancaster County Convention Center.

The Governor’s Awards are the commonwealth’s most prestigious recognition for the arts, honoring outstanding Pennsylvania artists, arts organizations, cultural leaders and patrons who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the arts. Recipients are selected from public nominations, then reviewed and recommended by an advisory panel.

“Here tonight, we see clear evidence of the many different ways that people pursue, celebrate, and support the arts,” said Governor Wolf. “It is my great honor to present these awards to this year’s honorees. The great range of discipline, execution and value of the arts visible in their work helps to illustrate how the arts pay homage to aspects of life that are often difficult to distill into words.”

“This event is an opportunity to not only honor the artists receiving awards tonight, but it is also a time to acknowledge all those in the commonwealth who make art, teach the arts, support the arts, and love the arts,” First Lady Frances Wolf said. “Their efforts advance the great cultural heritage of Pennsylvania, and build our creative legacy for the future.”

This year’s Governor’s Awards recipients are:

Pepón Osorio, Philadelphia – Distinguished Arts Award: Internationally-recognized visual artist whose work includes large-scale installations inspired by personal and community experiences. He is the Laura Carnell Professor of Community Art at Tyler School of Art/Temple University and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Barry Kornhauser, Lancaster – Artist of the Year Award: Nationally-recognized playwright, director and educator, whose works have been performed nationally and internationally and commissioned and produced by renowned theatre festivals and Tony Award-winning theaters.

Ann Benzel, Hollidaysburg – Patron Award: Dedicated arts advocate and patron of the arts who has served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She is a long-time member of Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania.

George Junior Republic (GJR) Pointing the Way Program, Grove City – Arts Leadership & Service Award: An award-winning public/private art partnership program linking art making with community. GJR is a private, nonprofit residential treatment community for at-risk, delinquent, and dependent youth. Communities across western Pennsylvania have worked with GJR to complete and install more than a dozen sculpture projects to-date, through which participating GJR students gain a broad range of life and cognitive skills.

The Honorable J. Richard Gray & Mrs. Gail Gray, Lancaster – Special Recognition for Public Leadership in the Arts: Visionary public leader who, together with his artist wife, has implemented a path and process for Lancaster that has transformed the city into a thriving arts destination, coupled with modern amenities—welcoming visitors, enriching the lives of residents, and providing an environment that nurtures many artists and performers.

Each year, the Governor’s Awards for the Arts takes place in a different location within the Commonwealth. This enables the host city to showcase its unique cultural assets to an audience of cultural leaders from across Pennsylvania. All expenses related to the ceremony are paid for with private contributions.

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts are administered by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA), a state agency under the Office of the Governor. The Council’s mission is to foster the excellence, diversity and vitality of the arts in Pennsylvania, and to broaden the availability and appreciation of those arts throughout the state. For more information about the PCA, visit arts.pa.gov or call 717-787-6883.