“If we only do what is popular, we wouldn’t have those things that are important,” Tom Lidtke, the executive director of the Museum of Wisconsin Art (MWA), once said to Evelyn Patricia Terry. This especially resonated with her as one of 14 honorees for the 2012 Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Awards (WVALAA) hosted by MWA in the small town of West Bend, Wisconsin on a serene warm May 20 Sunday afternoon. While sharing her candid feelings about awards given to her rather than her artwork, she noted that her years of commitment to evolving as a full time professional artist were made possible by her decision to seek health instead of health insurance. Terry, age 66, told the audience, “I had to stay well. Although I originally wanted to work at a college or university (and earned degrees for that purpose), I knew I wanted tenure, but would probably get fired before that occurred (due to my protest policies of picketing and writing correction letters after persistent job-related policies go uncorrected). I had been told that the main reason people take jobs is for health insurance – thus they are planning to be sick, so I plan to be well and here I am healthy.”
Terry in her acceptance speech thanked MWA for hosting this year’s annual event, assistant director Graeme Reid for informing her of the award, and colleague and award winning visual artist, Gary John Gresl, for creating WVALAA in 2004. Terry also thanked the following friends, artists, and relatives who made the trip to MWA from New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee County: Talleah and Jim McMahon, Tiffany Slade and Zyana Slade – Bridges, Fondé, Eamon, and Gisele Bridges, Mary Ali-Masai, Jose Chavez, Shirah Apple, Jacqueline Terry, Laeh Bensman – McHenry, Jim Jung, Mary Ali – Masai, Jacqueline Terry, Dick Prestor, Blanche Brown, Ruthie Joy, Steve Kilner, Brad Anthony Bernard, Jody Alexander. Fortuitously, seasoned world traveler, Kwabena jjemba Robert Falson, came with his camera in hand to document Terry’s involvement. Terry and Falson share years of connection to the former Milwaukee Inner City Arts Council.
The program schedule noted that Terry actively participates in the art community as a highly respected mentor, educator, writer, lecturer, curator, and visual arts advocate with art in over 400 private and public collections nationally and internationally. Locally, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Haggerty Museum at Marquette University, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, and the Racine Art Museum each acquired her artwork. She exhibited throughout the United States and in Spain, Germany, Japan, and Russia, and received fellowships, grants, commissions, and exhibition awards for her artwork in printmaking, pastels, mixed media and installations. Her public art projectsinclude Giving Gifts, at the Milwaukee County General Mitchell Airport parking structure and Kindred Ties (being repaired after being hit by a car) previouslyinstalled on Fond du Lac and North Avenues in Milwaukee. Contracted with UW Press, publication and distribution of her manuscript Permission to Paint, Please! African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin dominates her present goals.
Sunday’s WVALA in-state “Hall of Fame” honoring individuals, groups, and organizations that have supported the visual arts with distinction included Kent Anderson, Prophet William Blackmon, Karen Johnson Boyd, Fred Fenster, Denis Kitchen, Norbert Kox, Frances Meyers, Native American Petroglyphs, Simon Sparrow, Jean Stamsta, Tony Rajer, and William Weege. Tom Jones, assistant professor of photography at UW-Madison gave an informative talk and presented photographs from his recently published multiple award winning book “People of the Big Voice: A Personal View.” To learn more about WVALAA visit www.wvalaa.com. To learn more about the Museum of Wisconsin Art, call 262.334.9638 or visit http://www.wisconsinart.org. To learn more about Terry, visit www.evelynpatriciaterry.com.