(TRENTON, NJ) -- On February 13, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts held its first public meeting of 2018 at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City. The unique facility is home to a growing number of active artist studios, exhibition spaces, arts organizations, and more, and served as the perfect backdrop for the Council's announcement of this year's Artist Fellowship awards. Eighteen artists from New Jersey received monetary awards intended to help give them the ability to keep creating art.
The recipients included:
Crafts - James Jansma (Hopewell); Won Ju Seo (Englewood Cliffs); Amy Wilson (Jersey City); and Kate Wilt (Spring Lake).
Photography - Adam Bell (Verona); Hagit Dror (Jersey City); Mark Ludak (Lambertville); Irena Pejovic (Cranford); Ira Wagner (Montclair); Tanesh Webber (Jersey City).
Playwriting - Deborah Brevoort (North Bergen); Rachel Diken (Maplewood); Joseph Gallo (Hoboken); Ben Marshall (Plainfield); John Pietrowski (Long Valley); Lia Romeo (Hoboken); Lesley Scammell (Montclair); Ruth Zamoyta (Millburn).
"Whether it's sculpture, poetry, or theater, New Jersey has long been a forerunner in the arts," said Acting Secretary of State Tahesha Way. "Our arts history is incredibly rich and its pages are thick with distinguished emissaries like William Carlos Williams and Alice Barber Stephens. I have full faith and confidence that our newest generations of artists, like those supported through this excellent program, will not disappoint."
"We are extremely proud of these artists and grateful for the chance help lift them up." said Council Chair Elizabeth Mattson. "The Fellowship program is designed to make it just a little easier for artists of all kinds to focus on their work; to contribute to communities, families and individuals in immeasurable ways."
The Individual Artist Fellowships are competitive awards to New Jersey artists in 12 rotating disciplines granted solely on independent peer panel assessment of work samples. The anonymous process is focused on artistic quality, and awards may be used to help artists produce new work and advance their careers. New Jersey artists applied for awards this year in the categories of crafts, photography and playwriting. This program is carried out in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and has been managed for many years by the Council's Director of Artists Services Don Ehman. Mr. Ehman is set to retire at the end of the month after 29 years of service with the State.
Having recently announced his own upcoming retirement, Nick Paleologos, outgoing Council Executive Director remarked, "There are a million things I'll miss about the Council and New Jersey's awesome arts community. But getting to know Don Ehman is at the top of that list. His love for the work we do, and his role in supporting New Jersey artists is obvious to anyone who spends more than a minute with him. No exaggeration. He's that smart, thoughtful, generous, and just plain fun kinda guy that any high performing organization would love to have on their team. We sure will miss him."
The Council also heard presentations by the event hosts and special guests, including Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the International Sculpture Center, and Theresa Colvin - the new Executive Director of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, created in 1966, is a division of the NJ Department of State. The Council was established to encourage and foster public interest in the arts; enlarge public and private resources devoted to the arts; promote freedom of expression in the arts; and facilitate the inclusion of art in every public building in New Jersey. The Council receives direct appropriations from the State of New Jersey through a dedicated, renewable Hotel/Motel Occupancy fee, as well as competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. To learn more about the Council, please visit www.artscouncil.nj.gov.