Governor Kate Brown recently announced two artists and three organizations as winners of the newly relaunched 2017 Governor’s Arts Awards. Two of the winners were nominated by the Museum—Portland artist Arvie Smith (Lifetime Achievement Award) and The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. In many ways, they both have made important contributions to the Museum and the Portland community. Other winners include Yoncalla artist Esther Stutzman, Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, and Portland Opera.
The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation envisions an Oregon where the arts thrive in supportive communities. The Foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through the support of classroom education and the performing, visual and literary arts. The Miller Foundation is the most astute arts funder that the Museum works with. They ask good questions, reward excellence, provide multi-year support for operations, and work to advance the arts and culture sector across the entire state. The Museum is grateful for the Foundation’s support for exhibitions and programs, and even more thankful for the work they do to make art accessible to all Oregonians.
Arvie Smith is an artist, educator, and dedicated citizen engaged in building a more just, equitable, and connected community here in Portland and across Oregon. Rooted in his African-American heritage and life experience, his impressive career in painting, teaching, and advocacy has spanned more than 40 years, and made an indelible mark on people of all ages throughout the state. After graduating with his BFA from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, he returned to teach art there for 25 years. His paintings have been featured in dozens of exhibitions across the country, including the Museum’s recent APEX exhibition. Smith’s paintings have sparked a series of critical dialogues about race, identity, and history within our museum and across our community at a particularly tumultuous time.
As an educator, Smith has been passionately dedicated to youth engagement and community impact—working with Self Enhancement Inc., Caldera Arts, Portland Public Schools, Rosemary Anderson High School, and youth from Multnomah County’s Donald E. Long Juvenile Center. He was recently profiled in Portland Monthly, noted as “easily one of the city’s most technically skilled painters.”
In the closing words of Governor Kate Brown, “Not only do the arts enrich our quality of life and local economies, arts education is key in fostering a spirit of creativity and innovation in our youth. The awards are a great way to celebrate Oregon’s artistic treasures and honor the impact they have had to our state.”