Quest Skinner

The Artspace Awards

Honoring Our Artists

Artspace is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Artspace Artist Awards, to be presented Saturday, October 15 as part of the Breaking Ground weekend.

The three artists selected as this year’s honorees are Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, who will receive the Dejunius Hughes Award for Activism; Dave Rogers, who will receive the Steve Kramer Award for Community Service; and Osh Ghanimah, will receive the Su Job Award for Education. In addition to these artist honorees, the Paul Brawner Award for Support of the Arts will go to Sue Gens and the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The Artspace Awards recognize the achievements of three individual artists and one arts supporter who have shown a commitment to advancing the arts and enriching their communities. Each award is named for an artist or an Artspace supporter who dedicated their lives, in part, to making a difference in the arts community and in the larger community as well.

About the Honorees


Juan Alonso-Rodríguez arrived in the United States from his native Cuba on March 2, 1966, exactly one month before his tenth birthday. He is a self-taught artist whose transition from music to visual arts coincided with his move to Seattle in 1982. In addition to being a successful visual artist, Juan is an activist for the arts and social justice, and a strong voice for inclusion in the arts. Juan lobbied to include at least one person of color on selection panels in the 1980s, meeting with city, county, and state arts commissions. He has also been on numerous selection panels for city, county, and state arts commissions including Artist Trust, Bumbershoot, and the Neddy Fellowship. He created and funded the Latino/a Artists EDGE Professional Development Scholarship. He continues to speak out publicly for more representation and inclusion of Latino and Latina artists. In 2015 he led an online campaign to include more artists of color in survey shows such as Out of Site, a presentation of local artists during the first Seattle Art Fair.

Juan also uses his studio as a tool to bring awareness to the mission of chosen non-profits. Each April he hosts a fund-raiser, selling work and collecting donations for that year’s non-profit. Recently Juan again raised the profile of art in Seattle by soliciting Town Hall Seattle to create and curate the successful “Inside Art” visual artist speaker series in the fall of 2013. Juan was also the Artist in Residence at Town Hall Seattle in the spring of 2015 where, aside from AIR responsibilities, he also created a lecture/discussion series with artists such as choreographer Olivier Wevers, and artist and Guggenheim Fellow Rick Araluce. At Town Hall he also created CONNECT, an event to introduce artists of different disciplines to each other and to resources such as Space-Finders (studios), Lawyers for the Arts, publications, curators, arts organizations, fabricators, shippers, and consultants. Visit Juan's website for more information.

Dave Rogers is a New York based Neo-Contemporary painter, sculptor, public artist, and art instructor. A 14-year veteran of the US Army, Dave served in Iraq, Bosnia, as a first responder at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and on homeland security in New York. He spent seven years as a professor of art and visiting lecturer in art and design through China before returning to New York.

As an active artist Dave is involved in many organizations and community activities in and around Patchogue and Long Island. Within Artspace, he founded the Artspace Professional Development Network, and the first ever National Artspace Artists Run Exhibit. He was Gallery Manager for Artspace Patchogue from 2013-14, and was instrumental in Artspace Patchogue receiving the Best of Long Island award in the category of Art Galleries. He was part of the team that created a mural in the village of Patchogue, and is working with a group at El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 to create a mural at the Kennedy Center in Harlem. He also fostered the first exchange and joint exhibits between Artspace Patchogue and Long Island University, and the Huntington Arts Council’s Sparkboom Program. In Patchogue, Dave created the first ever annual breakfast crawl which helps to support the arts; designed the first designer crosswalk on Long Island; was the creator and Chairman for the first Terry Street Arts Fair between the Patchogue Arts Council and Artspace Patchogue and raised more than $9,000 to support the arts in Patchogue. Dave volunteers yearly to help set up the artist section for the Alive After Five for the Village of Patchogue and he is currently working on a Lights on Veterans Program. Around Long Island, Dave works with Project9Line and the VFW to bring art and art programs to Veterans. He sets up workshops and exhibits, as well as working on creating programs for public art for Veterans. Learn more about Dave Rogers on his website.

Osh Ghanimah is an actor, writer and director and a proud Teach for America alum who taught English and Theatre in public schools in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx for five years. As an undergrad in Chicago, he worked on a senior thesis called “The Theatre for Diversity Project,” where he brought kids from the city of Chicago together with kids from the suburbs and trained them on his college campus in an effort to combat segregation in Chicago through theatre. After moving to New York with Teach for America and to pursue acting, Osh was made aware of the realities of his students reading and writing three years behind grade level, and his acting career was put on hold. He founded theatre programs in two New York public schools, both of which continued after Osh left the schools because administrators witnessed the results of a professional program on a school’s culture and subsequent student achievement.

Osh is the Founder and CEO of Broadway For All (BFA), a non-profit which strategically integrates talented teens living in poverty with those from middle- and upper-income backgrounds, across a wide cultural gamut, to train in a tuition-free professional conservatory. The teaching staff includes Broadway, TV, and film industry professionals, and BFA’s mission is to diversify the American stage and screen. BFA participants split their time between classes in the morning and rehearsal in the afternoon, five days a week, seven hours a day for five weeks. All participants attend at least 10 free Broadway productions every summer during the evenings to supplement their training. Learning from a core faculty of industry professionals, participants not only study acting technique, singing, dance, writing, and audition prep in a rigorous setting, but also present a collaboratively produced showcase and a staged reading at an Off-Broadway theater. At least 70% of BFA students received interest from industry agents and managers after these showcases. Several BFA students have recently appeared on Broadway in Finding Neverland, Matilda the Musical, and The King and I; and another will make his Broadway debut this season in the title role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Minnesota State Arts Board is a state agency that stimulates and encourages the creation, performance, and appreciation of the arts in the state.  It works to ensure that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to participate in the arts. 

The Arts Board is an adviser, resource, and policy maker for the arts in the state; it distributes grants and other forms of assistance for artistic activities; it manages the state’s public art program (Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places); and it serves as fiscal agent for legislative appropriations to eleven regional arts councils. The Arts Board currently has an annual budget of $39 million. The principle source of its funding is the State of Minnesota through legislative appropriations from both the state’s general fund and its dedicated arts and cultural heritage fund. The board is made up of eleven volunteer members who are appointed by the governor. It has a professional staff of nineteen, including executive director Sue Gens. 

Sue Gens is executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board. She joined the board 2001 and previously served as the agency’s director of communication and government relations, and its interim executive director. Before joining the Arts Board, Gens was director of external relations for the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities); and director of development for United Arts, a federated fundraising organization for small and mid-sized arts organizations in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. Gens has worked in the Twin Cities nonprofit and public sectors for 30 years; has held management, public relations, marketing, or development positions at the Children’s Theatre Company, Minnesota Orchestra, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, COMPAS, and the Women’s Theatre Project; and has served as a volunteer, consultant, or board member with a variety of nonprofit organizations. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, with degrees in music and arts administration.

Congratulations to this year's honorees! Please join us on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 pm at Bedlam Theatre in Lowertown St. Paul for the awards ceremony. Reserve your tickets now! 



Learn about the 2015 Award Winners

 Learn about the 2014 Award Winners 


Return to the main Breaking Ground page



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