Grand Junction’s Champion of the Arts awards announced
Special to the Free Press
The Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture is proud to announce the winners of the annual Champion of the Arts awards. The recipient of the Champion of the Arts Business Award goes to Patti and Chuck Shear of Shear Inc., and the Champion of the Arts Individual Award recipient is Karen Combs. They are recognized for their generosity, dedication and exceptional support of arts and culture in the Grand Valley.
Karen Combs was nominated by Sandra Dorr, founder of the Western Colorado Writers Forum (WCWF) and Dr. Calvin Hofer, head of the Department of Music at Colorado Mesa University. Supporting letters also came from the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and the Avalon Theatre Foundation.
Sandra Dorr credits Combs with supporting two of their programs. Voices — a trained group of writers that teaches workshops to the homeless, incarcerated teens, and women at Latimer House — and Writers in the Schools (WITS), which now has published authors in grades 3-12 to mentor and teach a total of 2,000 students. This is the largest, most comprehensive WITS program in Colorado and has set records for the most classes taught in a Colorado school, the first anthology of both student poetry and visual art, the first bilingual anthology ever published in the state, and the largest school-wide participation of teachers sharing WITS curriculum through one writer.
“Considering that no statewide WITS program had been held in the Grand Valley for decades, without those matching funds and help from Karen Combs the program would simply not exist,” Dorr said.
Kirk Gustafson and Kelly Anderson of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra describe Comb’s philosophical and financial support of the symphony as constant and unwavering.
“The underwriting of … concerts has allowed the [Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra] to commission new compositions, bring in internationally known composers to Grand Junction, and to increase the level of national and international guest artists for GJSO concerts,” Gustafson said.
According to Gustafson, it was Comb’s significant individual donation to the Avalon Cornerstone Project that jump-started the renovation of the performing arts center on Main Street in Grand Junction.
“Her donation allowed the planning and architectural drawings to go forward,” he added.
PATTI & CHUCK SHEAR
Shear, Inc. was nominated by Camille Silverman, executive director of The Western Colorado Center for the Arts (WCCA). The Shears have been instrumental in funding many projects at The Art Center, including the exterior renovation of the building in 2009. They’ve also been involved in a variety of guest artist exhibitions over the years, and they have served on The Art Center board from 2011 – 2014 along with holding a position on the board development committee.
“The Shears have been involved with The Art Center for several years, helping to introduce it and its programs to many local corporations,” Silverman said.
A public reception will be held Jan. 21 starting at 6 p.m. in Grand Junction City Hall; the awards will be presented at the City Council meeting at 7 p.m.
For more information contact Lorie Gregor at 970-254-3876.
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