Cleveland Arts Prize

Submitted by lmcshane on Mon, 05/26/2008 - 11:58.
06/26/2008 - 18:00

That's right--the time is upon us, again.  Mark your calendars for June 26th!


Cleveland Play House Cleveland, OH
United States

2008 Cleveland Arts Prize Winners Announced

       The Cleveland Arts Prize, established in 1960, is the oldest award of its kind in the United States.  Each year it honors several artists, and others who have expanded the community’s participation in the arts. Three of the awards come with cash prizes – the Emerging Artist Award ($5,000), given to an artist living in Northeast Ohio who shows remarkable promise and has created a significant work or project; and two Mid Career Awards ($2,500 each), given to artists who have received national recognition, in addition to regional and local acclaim, and have lived in Northeast Ohio.


There is also a Lifetime Achievement Award, given to an artist who has worked in Northeast Ohio over several decades and whose career and achievements have brought great distinction to himself and the region; and two special award categories: the Robert P. Bergman Prize, for an individual who has shown passionate leadership and opened his or her field more broadly; and the Martha Joseph Prize, for individuals or organizations that because of exceptional commitment, vision, leadership or philanthropy have made a significant contribution to the vitality and stature of the arts in the region.


This year’s winners are:


Emerging Artist Award: Dan Visconti (Music)


The young composer, who grew up in the Cleveland area and studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, divides his time between Cleveland and Washington, D.C. He has received commissions from several major U.S. orchestras as well as ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet. He has also received several awards and grants.



Mid Career Awards: Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson (Visual Arts) and Angela Johnson (Literature)


Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, a native of Iceland studied architecture at Kent State University, attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, and received a BFA and MFA from Kent State. She has held solo shows in Reykjavik, Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art and FAVA (Firelands Association for the Visual Arts) Gallery in Oberlin and her drawings and weavings have been exhibited in Barcelona, Paris and Rouen. She has received awards from the Ohio Arts Council and her work is in the collections of National City Bank, Progressive Corporation and University Hospitals.



Angela Johnson, who was born in Alabama, but grew up in Kent, where she still lives, is still in her 40s, but she has published more than 40 books since 1989.  Her works include children’s books, young adult novels and poetry. Among the awards she has won are the Coretta Scott King award for five works; an American Library Association; the "Best Books" pick by School Library Journal, the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and she is a 2003 MacArthur Fellow.



Lifetime Achievement Awards: Melvin Rose (Design) and Craig Lucas (Visual Arts)


Melvin Rose has produced major projects in decorative metal work, some of his own design and other produced in collaboration with major Cleveland artists such as Viktor Schreckengost, for more 70 years as head of Rose Iron Works, the oldest decorative metal work company in the United States, which was founded by his father and still operates from its original location in Cleveland. Many of his creations, such as the decorative metal work for the Cleveland Garden Center are local landmarks.


Craig Lucas has been living and working in this region for over 40 years. He served as a professor of painting for 35 years at Kent State University.  His abstract paintings have been featured and collected by numerous regional institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Akron Art Museum and the Canton Art Museum. His work has also been exhibited at galleries and museums around the U.S. and in other countries. In his work, Lucas strikes a sound balance between formal exploration and metaphoric relevance.



Special Prizes


The Robert P. Bergman Prize: Mitchell Kahan


Mitchell Kahan’s unusually long tenure as director of the Akron Art Museum – 21 years – is in itself a testament to his success. In recent years, he has led the evolution of not only the museum, but of Akron as well. The museum’s bold, edgy and striking new $36 million-dollar expansion – which the world architectural press has called not only important for Akron, but important for the country – tripled the museum’s gallery space from approximately 8,000 to 20,000 square feet. At the same time, under Kahan’s leadership, the institution also increased its endowment by $8.5 million. Kahan has also championed local artists and was one of the founders of Summit Art Space, adjacent to the museum, a collaboration between the arts community and the county. 



The Martha Joseph Prizes: Michael Symon and Michael Ruhlman; Richard Gildenmeister; Graham Grund; Don Vanderbrook



Michael Symon and Michael Ruhlman


Michael Ruhlman is a nationally recognized author who has written several non-fiction books about food preparation, including The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef, and The Elements of Cooking, and collaborated with the esteemed chef Thomas Keller on The French Laundry Cookbook. He has received awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and won a James Beard Award for Magazine Writing, and he has been nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award.


Michael Symon has been at the leading edge of Cleveland’s latest culinary revival with his popular restaurants in Tremont and downtown, Lola and Lolita (he also opened a successful restaurant in New York City). He has been recognized as one of the country’s best new chefs in national publications including Food and Wine magazine.  He is also the Food Network’s newest Iron Chef. A champion of fresh, natural and locally grown foods, his culinary creations are always exciting.


Both Ruhlman and Symon have brought national attention to Cleveland’s food scene and have taught Clevelanders something about food as well.



Richard Gildenmeister has been promoting books and authors for more than 50 years.  He sold books for 18 years at Higbee’s downtown store, managed Burrows Shaker Square Store (and was buyer for all 36 Burrows bookstores). In 1976 he opened his own bookstore at Shaker Square.  Since that store closed, he sold books at Booksellers in Beachwood, Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights, Joseph-Beth’s at Shaker Square and Legacy Village store, where he continues to this day.  In the 1950s, he co-founded what became the Cleveland Plain Dealer Book and Author Luncheon as well as Higbee’s Meet the Author Luncheon Series, which raised money for the Women’s City Club.  As a longtime board member of the Friends of Cleveland Public Library, he has been active in many benefit used-book sales, and lent his own extensive collection of rare and autographed books.



Graham Grund, a longtime Cleveland arts leader and activist created "Access to the Arts" in 1990 to bring the arts to people who can’t go out to experience it. The program sends young singers, dancers and actors to thousands of people in hospitals, hospices, senior centers and retirement communities, now reaching nearly 17,000 people a year. It also serves as a means for these young artists to hone their skills and display their talents. A spin-off, “Arts on the Air,” is a series of arts interviews broadcast over WCLV 104.9 FM since 1998, in which live audiences (along with the radio audiences) have heard speakers including Philip Johnson, Viktor Schreckengost, Frank Gehry and Christoph von Dohnanyi. Grund’s decades of arts advocacy include service to the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland International Piano Competition and the Cleveland Museum of Art.



Don Vanderbrook, a Newark, New Jersey native, served in the army, and then graduated from Cornell University with a degree in landscape architecture. He moved to Cleveland, where he purchased a 10-acre farm and converted it into formal English and wild flower gardens, featuring unusual flowers from England, Holland, Canada and other parts of the United States. He has become internationally recognized, creating floral designs for many major national events, while being featured in several national magazines.




The 2008 Cleveland Arts Prize Awards Ceremony will take place on June 26, at the Cleveland Play House, where winners will receive their prizes and make acceptance speeches.  The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Play House lobbies with an hors d'oeuvres reception and cash bar. The ceremony starts at 7:00 in the Bolton Theater.


Tickets – $50 each ($15 tax deductible) for regular tickets; $100 each for patron tickets ($65 tax deductible); and $500 each for sponsor tickets ($465 tax deductible) – are available online at or by sending a check to Cleveland Arts Prize, PO Box 21126, Cleveland, OH 44121.


For more information about the Cleveland Arts Prize, call 216-321-0012, e-mail info [at] clevelandartsprize [dot] org&YY=85403&y5beta=yes&y5beta=yes&order=down&sort=date&pos=1&view=a&head=b">info [at] clevelandartsprize [dot] org, or visit