CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 2012 Governor's Arts Awards gala took place Thursday evening at the state Culture Center. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin presented Vernon Howell of Barboursville, with the Lifetime Achievement award for his significant accomplishments in the arts.
Howell's paintings, relief wood sculptures and experimental mixed media have appeared in regional and national shows, including, among others, The National Gallery of American Art and the Smithsonian Institute, according to a media release from the state Division of Culture and History.
The Huntington native spent 30 years teaching art at Barboursville High School before taking an early retirement to become a full-time artist.
The Distinguished Service to the Arts Awards was given to Grant Cooper and the Marshall Artists Series.
Cooper, of Charleston, has been the artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony since 2001.
The Marshall Artists Series of Marshall University and Huntington is celebrating 75 years. It first started in 1936 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Marshall College, and is considered the second oldest of its kind in the country, according to the release.
The Artist of the Year Award was given to Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. of Logan, who went from being an underemployed car washer and part time singer struggling to make ends meet to a Las Vegas headliner and entertainer, after becoming the 2011 winner of NBC's "America's Got Talent."
Arts in Education awards were presented to the Fine Arts Academy of Cabell Midland High School and the School of Harmony Inc. in Beaver.
The Leadership in the Arts awards was given to Chesapeake Energy and the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University.
Ten members of the state Legislature received Legislative Leadership awards for their significant accomplishments in the arts. They are: Del. Mary M. Poling, D-Barbour, Sen. John R. Unger II, D-Berkeley, Sen. Evan H. Jenkins, D-Cabell, Del. Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, Del. Bob Ashley, R-Roane, Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, Sen. Karen L. Facemyer, R-Jackson, Del. Meshea L. Poore, D-Kanawha, Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, and Del. Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia.