Monday, November 29, 2010


For more information contact:
Robyn Horton
Communications Manager

November 29, 2010         

700 SW Jackson Street, Ste. 1004
Topeka, Kansas 66603-3774

Topeka, Kan. – The Kansas Arts Commission is pleased to announce the 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards recipients. This year’s honorees are Arkansas City Area Arts Council (Arts Organization); Louis Copt, Lawrence (Artist); Willa Griswold, Marysville (Arts Advocate); Martha E. "Betty" Muncy, Dodge City (Arts Patron); and Linda Reimond, Lawrence (Arts-in-Education).

In addition, Sara Paretsky, a best-selling author and native Kansan, will be honored with this year’s Distinguished Arts Award. Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel with the heroine V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator. Paretsky’s work is celebrated in the documentary Women of Mystery, and the actress Kathleen Turner played V.I. Warshawski in the 1991 movie of the same name. In addition, she was recently named to receive the 2001 Mystery Writers of America Grand Master award.

Paretsky describes her journey from Kansas farm-girl to New York Times bestseller in her 2007 memoir, Writing in an Age of Silence, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In addition, Paretsky has written two highly-acclaimed stand-alone novels, Ghost Country, used in many seminary classrooms, and Bleeding Kansas, set in the part of rural Kansas where Paretsky grew up. She has published a collection of her own short stories and edited four other anthologies, including most recently, Sisters on the Case.

“Each year the Governor’s Arts Awards honors the dedication to artistic and cultural enrichment made in the state of Kansas,” said Kansas Arts Commission Henry Schwaller IV.
“These awards call attention to the creative spirit, and the Commission is proud to recognize awardees on their accomplishments and efforts in support of the arts.”

The Governor’s Arts Awards are given annually to distinguished Kansas artists, patrons and arts educators, and have been given annually since 1974 by the governor and the Kansas Arts Commission. An expert panel selected the winners from submitted nominations.

Winners will be recognized at a reception and awards ceremony from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 3, 2010, at Washburn University’s Memorial Union Washburn Room. Governor-elect Sam Brownback has been invited to attend the ceremony to present the awards.

For questions about the Governor's Arts Awards program, contact Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Kansas Arts Commission program manager, at or 785/368-6545.

The Kansas Arts Commission is a state agency, funded by the State of Kansas and the National Endowment for the Arts, dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts in Kansas. Its mission is to provide opportunities for the people of Kansas to experience, celebrate and value the arts throughout their lives. For more information on the Kansas Arts Commission, please visit the KAC website at

2011 Governor’s Arts Awards Biographies

Distinguished Arts Award: Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced her detective V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. By creating a real woman with the grit and the street smarts to tackle problems on the mean streets, Paretsky challenged a genre in which women were either vamps or victims.  She set the stage for a new generation of women detectives, but, as NPR’s Maureen Corrigan said, “Warshawski [is] still the gal you want beside you in a fight — be it short, dirty and physical, or a longer campaign for social justice.” Publishers Weekly adds that, “Among today’s PIs, nobody comes close to Warshawski.”

Called “passionate” and “electrifying,” V.I. reflects her creator’s own passion for social justice. As a contributor to the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers, and a speaker at the Library of Congress and Oxford University, Paretsky is an impassioned advocate for those on society’s margins.  After chairing the school’s first Commission on the Status of Women as a Kansas undergraduate, Paretsky worked as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side during the turbulent race riots of 1966. More recently, Paretsky served with then-state Senator Obama on the board of Thresholds, which works with Chicago’s mentally ill homeless. She has mentored teens in Chicago’s most troubled high school, and works closely with literacy and reproductive rights groups.
Not only has Paretsky’s own work broken barriers, she has also helped open doors for other women. In 1986 she created Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization to support women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. More accolades followed: the British Crime Writers awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement; Blacklist won the Gold Dagger from the British Crime Writers for best novel of 2004, and she has received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from several different universities.  The actress Kathleen Turner played V I Warshawski in the movie of that name and Paretsky’s work is celebrated in Pamela Beere Briggs’s documentary, Women of Mystery. Today Sara Paretsky’s books are published in 30 countries.

She detailed her journey from Kansas farm-girl to New York Times bestseller in her 2007 memoir, Writing in an Age of Silence, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. In addition, Paretsky has written two highly-acclaimed stand-alone novels, Ghost Country, used in many seminary classrooms, and Bleeding Kansas, set in the part of rural Kansas where Paretsky grew up.  She has published a collection of her own short stories, and edited four other anthologies, including, most recently, Sisters on the Case.

Like her detective, Paretsky lives and (mostly) dies with the Cubs, runs Chicago’s lakefront with her golden retriever, and loves to sing, taking part in community musicals.  Paretsky lives in Chicago with her husband, a member of the University of Chicago’s Fermi Institute.

For more information, please visit her website and blog:

Arts Organization: Arkansas City Area Arts Council
Arkansas City Arts Council has provided innovative, engaging arts programs for all ages and mediums in the Arkansas City area for over 48 years. It is housed in a keystone historic theater in Arkansas City, having raised $2.7 million to restore the building. Arkansas City Area Arts Council coordinates engaging, high quality arts programs throughout the community utilizing volunteer, professional artist, school district and business partnerships.

Artist: Louis Copt
Louis Copt is a landscape painter, teacher, and community volunteer. He is an active exhibitor of his work nationwide and serves as a painting instructor at the Lawrence Arts Center. Louis is known primarily for his paintings of the Flint Hills and prairie fires, but is also well versed in figurative and still-life traditions. While his work is representational, his style is elemental and rooted in abstract composition. He is also active as an arts advocate and educator, mentoring students within a community education environment and taking the initiative to facilitate exhibitions of his students work throughout the area and the United States. 

Arts Advocate: Willa Griswold
Willa Griswold's leadership is felt throughout the Marysville community. She has been instrumental in the development of the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art as volunteer, fundraiser, and donor. She initially chaired the committee that lead to the building donation and renovation of the Center and has continued to be involved at almost every level in the center's activities. Her involvement in the arts extends into the organization of community arts festivals and exhibits and the establishment of an arts-based citywide afterschool program.  

Arts Patron: Martha E. "Betty" Muncy
Martha E. "Betty" Muncy was instrumental in the establishment of Dodge City’s Depot Theatre Company, which is located in a renovated Santa Fe Train depot. Over the years she personally donated over  $250,000 for the renovation of the building. She continues to fundraise for the theatre guild, establishing events and commissioning multiple works of public art for the city to enjoy, including the Stan Herd mural in the Dodge City Daily Globe building and a citywide mural project involving the students of Dodge City Community College Art Club.

Arts-in-Education: Linda Reimond
Linda Reimond is the director of the first arts-based preschool in the Midwest and one of the first such programs in the nation. Located at the Lawrence Arts Center, the preschool has pioneered the development of arts-based early childhood curriculum, and Linda is a leader in the training of teachers on the use of art in classrooms for young children. Teaching in the preschool for over 25 years, she maintains a consistent presence in the preschool classrooms where she continues to develop innovative ideas to engage early learners in the arts.

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