This year’s Mayor’s Arts Awards go to a star-studded group, including best-selling local author Daniel James Brown (“The Boys in the Boat”) and artist Akio Takamori.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has named three individuals and two cultural organizations as the winners of the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. Author Daniel James Brown, artist Akio Takamori, and university professor Robin K. Wright were recognized along with the jazz education program JazzED and the Japanese-American history organization Densho.
The award honors cultural contributions to the community that take a variety of forms, from cultural preservation to increasing the community outreach of the arts. The five winners were chosen from among 400 publicly nominated candidates.
Brown is the local author of the international best-seller “The Boys in the Boat,” the story of the University of Washington crew team that shattered expectations at the 1936 Olympics. The book spent a year on The New York Times best-seller list and has been optioned for a film.
Takamori, who was born in Japan, has ceramic sculptures in museums locally and internationally and his work is sought by galleries and collectors. He is professor emeritus at the University of Washington, where he taught from 1988-2014, and his “Three Women” at the Whole Foods Plaza on Westlake Avenue downtown, and the ceramic figures in his installation “Love” at Harborview Medical Center, are well-known pieces.
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Wright has taught about Native arts of the Pacific Northwest as a professor of art history at the University of Washington since 1985. Since 2003, she has run the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art learning center, which emphasizes increasing public access to research about Native art.
JazzED was founded to expand the reach of top jazz instruction by making financial aid available to any student. The organization offers master classes, big band ensembles and summer camps, as well as giving students opportunities to volunteer in the community.
Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project is a nonprofit digital-history organization focused on curating and making available firsthand accounts, documents, and images about Japanese-Americans who were interned in camps during World War II. Densho provides public access to more than 800 oral history interviews and 50,000 digital photographs and documents.
The awards presentation will be part of the opening ceremony of Bumbershoot, Seattle’s end-of-the-summer arts celebration, on Sept. 4 at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre.