For Immediate Release

January 9, 2009

Media Contact:  Margaret DeMott, Director of Artist Services, Durham Arts Council,  (919) 560-2720


Recipients to be Honored at 25th Anniversary Celebration

(Durham, NC) -- Durham Arts Council announces the seventeen local area artists selected to receive Emerging Artists Grants in 2009.   Artists will be honored at the 25th Anniversary Emerging Artists Awards Ceremony in the spring of 2009.   The 25th Anniversary Celebration will include a tribute to the late Ella Fountain Pratt, who collaborated with Dr. James H. Semans and the North Carolina Arts Council to found the Emerging Artists Program in 1984.        

The Emerging Artists Grant Program, administered by Durham Arts Council, is designed to enable individual artists who have mastered the basic techniques of their art form to complete projects that will establish or enhance their professional careers.  Grants may not exceed $1,500.  Criteria for making the awards include the accomplishment and commitment of the artist, the feasibility of the proposed project and the impact the project will have on the applicant’s career.  This year a total of $23,900 was awarded.  Ninety-three artists applied to the program.

Durham Arts Council's Emerging Artists Committee coordinates this program in partnership with the arts agencies of adjacent Chatham, Orange, Granville and Person Counties.  This joint effort provides an efficient, non-duplicative administration that allows artists in all five counties to participate in the Emerging Artists Program.  The cooperative nature of the program has also helped build relations between arts organizations in these counties and encouraged networking between artists in the region. 

The Emerging Artists Program is cited repeatedly by local artists as providing important financial support and significant public recognition of their professional achievements.  Counting the current recipients, 389 grants have been made to area artists during the program’s 25-year history.  Past recipients include six-time Grammy-nominated, jazz vocalist, Nnenna Freelon; painter and Guggenheim Fellow, Beverly McIver; and violinist and Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Nicholas Kitchen.  Sauda A. Zahra, an Emerging Artists Grant recipient in 2007, is a Master Quilter whose work has just been selected for Quilts for Obama: An Exhibit Celebrating the Inauguration of our 44th President, at The Historical Society of Washington, DC. 


The 2008-2009 Emerging Artists Grant Recipients by County

Durham County – contact: Margaret DeMott, Director of Artist Services, Durham Arts Council, (919) 560-2720

Beverly Botsford, Music, purchase multi-track recording equipment for composing and arranging, for creating current work samples and recording CDs.

Jessye McDowell, Film/Video, work with local performers to create five tableaux vivants based on the instructions of an 1860 text, record them on HD video, and create images for projection.

Gillian Parke, Craft, build a kiln shed for a gas kiln.

Gary Pohl, Sculpture, reinvent the "high striker" machine, more elegant and complex than any other.  Rather than measuring strength, this sculpture will "Test Your Socio-Economic Worth."

Mikel Robinson, Photography, create a hand-bound limited edition book of his landscape photographs titled, "Under These Stones: Vanishing Reflections of Rural North Carolina."

Sydney Scherr, Craft, purchase computer software and hardware, and art books to use during a two year appointment at Raffles International College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Carolyn Shull, Music,  release a CD of a concert for which she received a grant from the Chicago Downtown Sound Gallery series.

Leah Sobsey, Mixed Media, work with Lynn Bregman Blass to create a public art installation and a series of community art workshops for the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Public Art Commission.

Orange County – contact: Martha Shannon, Executive Director, Orange County Arts Commission, (919) 245-2335 

Lynn Bregman Blass, Mixed Media, to work with Leah Sobsey to create a public art installation and a series of community art workshops for the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Public Art Commission.

Grey Brown, Literature, work with a graphic artist to create a website to promote her forthcoming collections of poetry and to further her career as a poet.

Ellen Giamportone, Photography, produce a portfoloio of limited edition large format photographs created at night, distingushed by enhanced lighting and ambiance.

Annemarie Gugelmann, Painting/Drawing, paint, in oil, five large-scale canvases (6 ft. x 6 ft) of cityscape works that reflect the life and development of downtown Durham.

Daniel Harris, Painting/Drawing, attend 2009 Penn Relays in Philadelphia to sell his work illustrating track and field events.

Victoria Ralston, Installation, create a theatre piece "Hungry Ghost" which is a shadow and marionette puppet performance, based on the Asian belief that haunting, unearthly beings roam among unwitting humans, both tricking and confusing.

Reuven Sadeh, Installation, create "Cycles of Life' - a functional innovative installation sculpture, which is a fully tunable, self-sustained musical instrument operated by the power of falling water.


Chatham County – contact: Molly Matlock, Executive Director, Chatham County Arts Council, (919) 542-0394 

Wendy Spitzer, Music, hire an audio engineer to record the last three songs of her album, and to have the entire album professionally mastered.

Person County – contact: Doug Newell, Executive Director, Person County Arts Council, 336-597-1766

Arthur Knowles, Craft, create and market a new line of handcrafted wood items - furniture, jewelry, wall pieces, and cremation urns - using a state-of-the art bandsaw.

Emerging Artist Program Funding


Durham Arts Council’s Emerging Artists Grant Program is funded by grants from the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the state of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Chatham County Arts Council, the Orange County Arts Commission, the Granville Arts Council, the Person County Arts Council, gifts to the Durham Arts Council Annual Arts Fund, the Ella Fountain Pratt Fund, the Wainwright Fund for New Works and support from other interested organizations and individuals. 

Durham Arts Council

In 2008, the Durham Arts Council celebrates 54 years of “Creating Community Through the Arts.”  Durham Arts Council, Inc. is a private, not for profit, 501 c (3) organization that promotes excellence in and access to the creation, experience and active support of the arts for all the people of our community.  DAC is one of the oldest arts councils in the United States, and one of the largest in North Carolina.  DAC manages the historic Durham Arts Council building at 120 Morris St., a public facility in downtown Durham that attracts over 290,000 visitors a year, and houses the offices of nine arts organization, three galleries, two theatres, a community arts school, art production facilities, classrooms, event venues and rehearsal spaces.  DAC’s year-round programs include grants and technical assistance for arts organizations and individual artists, art exhibitions, classes in the performing and visual arts, artist residencies in the public and private schools, arts and cultural planning, advocacy and fundraising, Durham Art Walk, and CenterFest, Durham’s annual street arts festival. Through the DAC Annual Arts Fund, Dinners a l’ Art, grants, and earned income, DAC raises nearly $2 million each year to provide programs and services and support the arts in Durham.  For more information visit Durham Arts Council.



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