Ohio Arts Council honors eight Heights artists
On April 20, the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) honored eight Heights artists with its 2016 Individual Excellence Award. The awards, given to 75 Ohio artists chosen from 392 applicants, recognize artists for the exceptional merit of a body of their work that advances or exemplifies the discipline and the larger artistic community, and provide support to the artists' growth and development, recognizing their work in the state and beyond.
The artists were judged via an open-panel review by other professional artists, and on the merit of completed works. Each winner received a $5,000 grant for “quality arts experiences that strengthen Ohio artistically, educationally and culturally,” according to OAC's May 3 press release which announced the winners.
Awards are made in six categories: choreography, criticism, fiction/nonfiction, music composition, playwriting and poetry.
The eight Heights-resident winners are:
- George Bilgere (Cleveland Heights, poetry), an acclaimed poet who has been has been featured on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion.” He hosts his own radio show, "Wordplay," on WJCU, the radio station of John Carroll University, where he teaches English.
- George Brant (Cleveland Heights, playwriting), a playwright whose work has been performed internationally. His play "Grounded" was performed last year at The Public Theater in New York City, starring Anne Hathaway and directed by Julie Taymor.
- Christine Howey (Cleveland Heights, playwriting), a theater critic for Scene magazine, and Cleveland Heights’s current poet laureate. Her playwriting work explores her life and transition as a transgender woman.
- Philip Metres (University Heights, poetry), an English professor at John Carroll University who has published numerous works of poetry. He also translates contemporary Russian poetry, and has received two Arab American Book Awards, as well as a Cleveland Arts Prize.
- Caryl Pagel (Cleveland Heights, fiction/nonfiction), director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, and the author of two collections of poetry.
- Toni Thayer (Cleveland Heights, playwriting), a playwright and English teacher at Hathaway Brown School. She received the award for her play "Floating Dolls," produced at Talespinner Children's Theatre in Cleveland in 2014. Dobama Theatre produced Thayer's first writings for the stage.
- David Todd (University Heights, playwriting), artistic director of Playwrights Local 4181, a playwrights’ development and production center that supports dramatists in Northeast Ohio. His plays have been produced internationally, and he has published a nonfiction book.
- Sarah Willis (Cleveland Heights, fiction/nonfiction), a poet and short story writer who grew up in Cleveland Heights and is the recipient of a Cleveland Arts Prize.
Commenting on her award, Thayer said, "I am thrilled to be on the same list with so many amazing writers.”
Lori Goldberg is an intern at the Heights Observer. Though a senior at Shaker Heights High School, Cleveland Heights is like a second home to her. She hopes to continue writing, professionally or not, for the rest of her life.