Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts 2011

Judy Chicago lives in Belen with her husband, photographer Donald Woodman. As an artist, author, educator, and feminist her career spans over four decades. Her work has been widely exhibited in the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in art from the University of California-Los Angeles, Chicago turned her energy to women’s history in 1974, and started to create her most recognized work – The Dinner Party. This large-scale, multimedia project, includes weaving, china painting, ceramics, and needlework, and is a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization. The Dinner Party has been seen by more than a million viewers during sixteen exhibitions at venues in six countries, and is now on permanent display in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Other high-profile Judy Chicago ventures include the Birth Project, a series of birth and creation images for needlework, originally exhibited in more than 100 venues and now in the collection of the Albuquerque Museum. In 1978, Chicago founded the nonprofit Through the Flower to serve the general public, especially K-12 schools, with educational programs that communicate the power of art through exhibitions, workshops, seminars, and lectures, as well as a website and study center. The New Mexico Museum of Art holds more than twenty of Chicago’s works in its collection.

Arnold Herrera of Cochiti Pueblo and lifelong New Mexico artist is a master of several traditional Pueblo art forms, a cultural interpreter, and preservationist. He is best known as a drum maker, but is also celebrated for his silverwork jewelry and red willow baskets, as well as his skills as a Keresan song composer and traditional dance choreographer. Herrera was class valedictorian of Santa Fe Indian School and obtained a psychology degree from New Mexico Highlands University. In addition to his achievements in the Pueblo arts, Herrera has worked for the National Park Service at both Bandelier and Pecos National Monuments, and for the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has also worked with the Santa Fe Indian School and many New Mexico Pueblos teaching young people crafts and leadership skills. In 1998 and 2000, he represented New Mexico’s Pueblo culture with drum making demonstrations at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife in Washington DC. He currently serves as a member of the New Mexico Humanities Council’s Speakers Series.

Las Cruces artist Robert Highsmith’s dramatic New Mexico landscapes have inspired artists, art-lovers, and critics alike with their strong statements and technical ability in watercolor. Highsmith received his art training from New Mexico State University and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. He has had numerous solo and group shows throughout the country and is represented in private and corporate collections including the New Mexico Capitol Art Foundation Collection, Hartford Insurance, Southern New England Telephone, and U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Highsmith’s work is featured in the travelling Paint the Parks Top 100 Exhibit and is featured on the cover of the February/March Santa Fean magazine. He is a signature member of both the New Mexico Watercolor Society and the American Watercolor Society.

Chimayó native and Santa Fe resident Amadeus Leitner is a 13th generation Chimayóso, descendent of famed weaver Reyes Ortega. Although he is receiving a Governor’s Award for his photography, Leitner has worked in various Spanish Colonial folk art traditions including bulto carving and retablo painting. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of New Mexico where he interned with renowned architect Antoine Predock. Following graduation in 2004, Leitner moved to San Francisco and managed architectural projects from small residences to large-scale commercial projects such as a new school and synagogue in Oakland, California. He moved back to New Mexico in 2008 to pursue landscape photography full-time. Leitner is a juried member of the Santa Fe Society of Artists and participated in more than twenty shows with the 75-member group. His photos have appeared in magazines including Interior Design, Atomic Ranch and The Santa Fean. His photography is recognized for its technical skill, aesthetic sense, and subtle and powerful imagery in the creation of fine art prints.

Bill Wiggins of Roswell began working in oil in 1940, started exhibiting his art in 1952, and has never stopped. The 93 year-old Wiggins was born in Roswell in 1917 to early homesteader parents. He has lived in New Mexico his entire life, leaving only for brief periods to attend college in Abilene, Texas, to join the U.S. Army during WWII, and to stay in England after the war to attend art school. He continues to live and paint in Roswell in his family home.

Wiggins has exhibited at Peter Eller Gallery in Albuquerque, Arkansas National Gallery in Jonesboro, Marietta College in Ohio, New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and Roswell Museum and Art Center. He has made numerous contributions to the arts in New Mexico beyond his own successful artwork. For ten years from 1953, he taught art classes for children and adults at the Roswell Museum, and in the 1960s served on an “unofficial” state arts council with notable artists Randall Davey, Elmer Schooley, Eric Gibberd, Raymond Jonson, and Frederick O’Hara to assist with issues relevant to artists of the time. In recent years, Wiggins has suffered from macular degeneration, but despite his dwindling eyesight continues to paint almost daily in a new medium watercolor.

Bruce and Mary Anne Larsen of Santa Fe contribute their time, expertise, and much-needed funding to New Mexico’s arts and culture through their support of New Mexico museums and performing arts. Bruce Larsen has been a member of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Board since 1999, serving four years as chairman. During that time, the Foundation raised more than $26 million in support of the construction and an endowment for the New Mexico History Museum that opened to the public in May 2009. Mary Anne Larsen played a central role in negotiations to expand the Aspen Ballet of Colorado to Santa Fe – forming the Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet. She is a past board chair of the nationally-prominent performing arts organization. The Larsens also support the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Futures for Children, and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

Now in its 17th year, the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference has made a major contribution to the arts in New Mexico by showcasing the vibrant Mexican and New Mexican cultural traditions of mariachi and ballet folkloric dance. Since 1994, the educational programs of the Mariachi Conference have hosted some 13,000 youth and adult musicians and dancers, and reached more than 150,000 audience members through public performances. Workshops are central to the annual five-day conference held each November in Las Cruces, and between 750 and 800 students are provided with the opportunity to work with world-renowned visiting artists. Many students from the conference have gone on to study mariachi and classical music at the college level, eventually organizing their own musical groups.