ince 1974, New Mexico’s governor has been honoring the state’s artists and patrons with awards for excellence in the arts. The program, started under Gov. Bruce King and First Lady Alice King, recognizes living artists and supporters who have made lasting contributions and achievements in the cultural sphere. The selection is diverse, encompassing art forms that range from traditional to cutting-edge and contemporary. The awards are not limited to visual arts. Awardees have included playwrights, musicians, actors, storytellers, and poets as well as weavers, potters, painters, sculptors, photographers, and more. In addition, cultural institutions and major donors have always been acknowledged.
Past recipients include Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Redford, Tony Hillerman, David Bradley, George R.R. Martin, N. Scott Momaday, Fritz Scholder, and Jim Vogel. The lineup for 2017 further enriches the pool with musicians Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie of Bayou Seco, author and conservationist William deBuys, master santero Gustavo Victor Goler, San Ildefonso potter Russell Sanchez, Diné photographer Will Wilson, and major arts contributors Helen R. Lucero and the Roswell Artist-inResidence Program.
The Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts is managed by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The ceremony takes place at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, at the New Mexico Museum of Art’s St. Francis Auditorium (107 W. Palace Ave.) and is free to the public. Preceding the event is a 3:30 p.m. reception for the exhibit of recipients’ works at the Governor’s Gallery of the State Capitol (490 Old Santa Fe Trail).