He went to college to study chemistry and never dreamed of being an artist. Today, artist Kes Woodward of Fairbanks was awarded the 2012 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist Award, which recognizes artists with stature and a history of creative excellence and accomplishments in the arts with $25,000 in unrestricted funds. Woodward is the ninth Alaskan artist to receive the award, which was announced at a morning ceremony in Anchorage.
“No Alaska art collection is complete without a northern landscape painting by Kes Woodward,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “This award not only recognizes his beautiful paintings and drawings, but his contributions to Alaska’s arts through his teaching, books and all the ways he has given back to developing other artists.”
Woodward was the Curator of Visual Arts at the Alaska State Museum and Artistic Director at the Visual Arts Center of Alaska before moving to Fairbanks in 1981. He taught at UAF for more than 20 years, retiring from teaching in 2000 to devote himself to painting full-time. He has painted the northern landscape for 25 years and his mountains, rivers, snow, ice, tundra, forests, and especially birch trees, are instantly recognizable. Woodward’s work is included in all major art collections in Alaska and in museum, corporate and private collections across the country. An art historian and curator, he has produced eight books on Alaska art and he has lectured on art of the circumpolar north around the world.
In addition to the Distinguished Artist Award, Rasmuson Foundation also awarded 26 $5,000 project grants (worth up to $5,000 each) and 10 Artist Fellowships (worth up to $12,000 each). These artists were chosen from a total of 305 applicants, whose applications were judged by an esteemed national panel of artists and arts leaders. A complete list is available here.
At the same time that the Individual Artist Awards were announced live today in Anchorage, they were also announced live from the virtual online community of Second Life in the Rasmuson Foundation Gallery of Alaskan Artists in Second Life. The Gallery is open year-round and features exhibits of art and provides artist information showcasing previous Individual Artist Award grantees.
About the Individual Artist Awards
In December 2003, the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors launched a multi-year initiative to make a significant investment into the arts and cultural resources of the state. Designed with the help from artists and arts organizations from around the state, the initiative prioritized support to practicing artists themselves as a key strategy to ensure Alaska enjoys a vibrant art and culture community.
This is the ninth year of the Individual Artist Awards program, and as of today, the program has awarded 267 grants, totaling $1.9 million dollars, directly to Alaska artists. The purpose of the awards is to allow artists to seek a variety of creative opportunities, including providing them with the time necessary to focus on creative work.