by Gary John Gresl

The recipients of the first annual Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Awards were disclosed during a ceremony on May 2nd, held at the West Bend Art Museum. Out of a possible 50 names on the ballot, 11 names were voted to be part of this first class recipients called by the WVALAA “Wisconsin’s Cultural Treasures”.

The three founding institutions of the WVALAA are the West Bend Art Museum, The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, and Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors, Inc. Each of these organizations shares in the goal of elevating the status of Wisconsin’s visual art in the public eye, to exhibit and recognize the wealth in history and contemporary art that exists in the State, and to honor those who have contributed exceptionally to our region’s visual art culture.

A select Nominating Committee consisting of 15 experienced individuals involved in the visual arts provided the names of worthy persons and institutions that might receive the awards, and this committee then voted to select the names receiving the awards in this first time ever event.

The WVALAA program included a talk by Professor William Gerdts, internationally known author of such books as the “Art Across America” series, comments by the three Chairs of the WVALAA, a $600 monetary gift presentation to the West Bend Art Museum for its use by the Milwaukee Visual Artist Roundtable, and the presentation of awards to representatives of the winners. The West Bend Mutual Insurance Company provided underwriting of this event and participated in the awarding ceremony.

It was also announced that the WVALAA has a website displaying examples of the work and bios of all the individuals honored. This website can be reached at WWW.WVALAA.COM OR WWW.WVALAA.ORG.

Plans for the next WVALAA nomination and voting processes of 2005 will begin soon and will be announced as they are determined. For more information contact Gary John Gresl, WP&S, 414-357-6822; or Randall Berndt, WI Academy of Science Arts and Letters, 608-263-1692; or Tom Lidtke, Director, West Bend Art Museum at 262-334-9638.

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