Let’s nominate a Deaf artist

Nominations sought for state artist, musician and poet

by Jeff Wentworth

State Senator, District 25

Renaissance English author Sir Thomas More described literature, poetry, painting, music, religion and architecture as the great gardens of the world, adding “. . . that the soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.”

The Texas Legislature, with the assistance of the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA), annually honors a musician, artist and poet whose work nourishes Texans’ souls by naming a state poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist or sculptor.

In 2001, the 77th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1043. This bill formalized the selection process for a Texas state artist in the disciplines of music, art, poetry and sculpture. The selection is underway for the 2007 and 2008 nominees. To ensure that the state’s most qualified artists are nominated, TCA needs your help in reaching out to the state’s vast artistic population.

Nomination forms may be obtained by contacting TCA at its toll-free number, 800-252-9415, or on the Internet at the TCA Web site: www.arts.state.tx.us. Completed nominations may be submitted online or mailed to Texas Commission on the Arts, Post Office Box 13406, Austin, Texas 78711. All nominations must be postmarked by Monday, September 11, 2006.

Top nominated artists will receive notification in mid-to-late September asking them to submit samples of their work, which will be reviewed by a TCA committee. After making its selections, the TCA committee will submit 10 names per category to a legislative committee. In accordance with the provisions of Senate Bill 1043, final selections are made by a committee consisting of seven members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives.

Nominees must live in Texas and have been residents for at least five years. In addition, they must have received recognition for high levels of excellence and success in their respective disciplines and been critically reviewed in regional, state and national publications.

State artists will receive not only statewide recognition but also the chance to participate in TCA events and promotions with previous state artists, such as Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, 2006 Poet Laureate Red Steagall, and artist Kathy Vargas. Selected artists also may use their position as a public forum to promote arts education in schools.

Recognizing artists by bestowing on them titles of honor is a longstanding practice. I encourage you to join the Texas Commission on the Arts in its efforts to recognize Texans who have exhibited exceptional ability in portraying the beauty of this state, some facet of its history or the proud spirit of its people. Please help elevate awareness of the arts in Texas by nominating your favorite artist, poet, musician or sculptor for this prestigious honor.

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