2015 Carol. R. Brown Creative Achievement Awardees Announced
Theater director, documentary filmmaker are winners of the 2015 Carol. R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 2, 2015 – Two Pittsburgh-based artists will receive this year’s Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards. The awards, a shared commitment of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments to invest in local artists, recognize exemplary artistic achievement and the promise of maintaining that level of excellence in future work. Two recipients — an established artist and an emerging artist – are each awarded $15,000.
This year’s Established Artist Award will go to Karla Boos for her 25-year career as founder and artistic director of Quantum Theatre. Documentary filmmaker and artist Brett Kashmere will receive the Emerging Artist Award. The winners will be recognized during the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s annual reception and meeting Nov. 16 at 3:30 p.m. in the August Wilson Center theater. Candidates for the awards were nominated by artists and regional arts leaders and chosen by an independent panel that reviewed applications and work samples. There were 34 submissions this year.
“The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments jointly established the Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh Region Artists Program so that we could directly support artists making extraordinary work that inspires and challenges people in our community and around the world,” said Germaine Williams, senior program officer for arts and culture at The Pittsburgh Foundation. “It is gratifying to see that so many creative professionals choose to stay in the region throughout their careers because of the supportive community here.”
Investing in Professional Artists is a multi-year program that aims to support creative development of professional artists; to create career advancement and recognition opportunities for artists; to encourage creative partnerships between artists and local organizations; and to increase the visibility of working artists in the region’s cultural life.
Janet Sarbaugh, senior director of the Arts & Culture Program at the Endowments said that, “The awards honor important local artists, and they also celebrate the work of one of Pittsburgh's greatest arts leaders, Carol Brown. Carol is best known for her incredible work in building Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Just as important, if less well known, is her lifelong championing of individual artists.”
About Karla Boos: Karla Boos founded Quantum Theatre in 1990 and serves as artistic director. The company makes original work, produces contemporary theatre from around the world and stages updated classics in atypical performance sites across the city. Boos often directs or acts for the company. She recently led the collaborative teams that created the world premieres of Baroque pastiche “The Winter’s Tale” and “All the Names,” adapted from José Saramago’s Nobel Prize-winning book, and appeared in Quantum’s own translation of Jon Fosse’s “Dream of Autumn.”
Her original texts, such as “The End of the Affair” adapted from Graham Greene and “The Howling Miller” adapted from Arto Paasilinna, are often on Quantum’s schedule. The company’s work has been featured in national magazines, including “American Theatre,” “Live on Stage” and “Stage Directions.” Boos received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She is a Salzburg Seminar Fellow and a member of both the National Theatre Conference and the International Women’s Forum.
“I’m proud to have been a part of 25 years of an evolving art scene in Pittsburgh,” says Boos in her artist statement. “I’m very optimistic about the city, if not necessarily the world… I really want other artists, younger artists, to benefit from my experiences and, to the extent that they’re meaningful to anyone else, from my insights — embracing the not knowing, and wrestling … across language barriers [both] literal and figurative.”
Boos received the Emerging Artist Award in 1998, which she described as “a vote of indescribable affirmation.”
Regarding this year’s Established Artist honor, Boos says, “It is so beautiful to be recognized now and here, where I’ve chosen to live and make work all these years. Quantum is a platform for collaborating and asking questions together. I’ll continue to be the same experimenter I have always been, and these experiments will take me and Quantum and our audiences further.”
About Brett Kashmere: Brett Kashmere is a Canadian-born, Pittsburgh-based documentary filmmaker and artist who uses sports as a tool for engaging audiences in a conversation about collective memory, popular culture, the archive, obscured histories and the notion of "edutainment." His works include the acclaimed video essay “Valery’s Ankle,” which examined the spectacle of hockey violence in North American media, and the feature documentary “From Deep,” which charts the history of basketball over the last century, including its rapid cultural rise in the 1980s and its merger with hip-hop culture. Kashmere’s current multidisciplinary documentary project, “Ghosts of Empire,” investigates the intersecting arcs of NFL Films, 16mm film manufacturing and the concussion crisis in American football. This spring, Kashmere received a $10,000 grant from the Investing in Professional Artists program for the “Ghosts of Empire” project.
Kashmere’s work has been exhibited internationally at the BFI London Film Festival; Milano Film Festival; Images Festival, Toronto; Kassel Dokfest; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Cinematheque Quebecoise, Montreal; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; UnionDocs, New York; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, among others; and locally at VIA Festival, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and 3 Rivers Film Festival. Kashmere is also the founding editor and publisher of “INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media.”
"The documentaries I make are nontraditional, noncommercial and explore sports, power and identity in ways that traditional channels like broadcast television simply do not,” Kashmere says. “I don’t make work with the idea of selling it. Because my research stems from a desire to respond to and affect the culture around me, I rely on grants and public funding. This award will support my current project, ‘Ghosts of Empire,’ which examines football’s grip on the collective American psyche, particularly football as a proxy for war, and the looming concussion crisis."
History of the Carol R. Brown Awards: The awards were conceived in 1991 as the Creative Achievement Awards by Carol R. Brown, who was president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001. Brown oversaw the transformation of a 14-square-block area of downtown Pittsburgh from a red light district to a nationally recognized model for arts-based community redevelopment. The awards went on hiatus from 2002 to 2011. In 2012, as part of their Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh Region Artists Program, which supports working artists and their creative processes from concept to completion, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments resurrected the awards and renamed them the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards.
Recipients of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards from 2012 to the present are:
Year Emerging Artist Established Artist
2015 Brett Kashmere (multidisciplinary) Karla Boos (theater)
2014 Lenka Clayton (multidisciplinary) Jon Rubin (multidisciplinary)
2013 Tami Dixon (theater) Roger Humphries (music)
2012 John Peña (visual arts) Toi Derricotte (literature)
About the Ceremony: The awards ceremony will occur at Moving Forward: the 2015 Annual Meeting and 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC), taking place Monday, Nov. 16 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture theater. The awards ceremony is first on the agenda. A 5:30 to 7 p.m. cake buffet reception will take place in the lobby following the annual meeting. The event is open to the public and is free to GPAC members and $20 for nonmembers. Moving Forward’s keynote speaker, Mayor Bill Peduto, will discuss the vital role of the arts in city and civic development. The results of recent GPAC vision sessions will also be shared and Peduto will name the recipient of the Mayor’s Award for Public Art. Reserve tickets to the event at http://www.pittsburghartscouncil.org/events-and-workshops-etc/gpacevents/event/328