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Two Rogue Valley residents receive Governor's Arts Awards

Two Rogue Valley residents were among five Oregonians recognized by Gov. John Kitzhaber Thursday in Portland for contributions to the arts. The 2002 Governor's Arts Awards went to artist Eugene Bennett of Jacksonville and William Bloodgood, resident scenic designer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

This year we honor artists and designers who've brought recognition to Oregon through their work, said Norm Smith, chairman of the Oregon Arts Commission.

Bennett, a painter who trained at the Chicago Art Institute, long has been acknowledged as one of the premier visual artists in Oregon. Bloodgood has designed more than 100 stage productions in Ashland and Portland.

Also recognized were Portland jazz drummer Mel Brown, Portland artist Kristy Edmund and arts patrons John and Carol Hampton of Portland.

The awards also recognize contributions made by two planning groups appointed during the Kitzhaber administration: the Governor's Task Force on Cultural Development and the Joint Interim Task Force on Cultural Development.

Presented since 1977 in partnership with the Oregon Arts Commission, the awards honor those whose work has significantly contributed to the growth and development of Oregon's cultural life.

Bennett was a promising concert pianist who turned to painting after World War II. He has been widely seen as a guiding force behind much of the cultural development of Jacksonville. He also has been identified with the Rogue Gallery and Art Center in Medford, of which he was a founder.

His roots in Southern Oregon brought him back to the region, and he settled in Medford, then in Jacksonville, where he renovated the once condemned Eagle Brewery Saloon to be his home and studio. His paintings, sculptures and collages have been collected widely.

Bloodgood was cited for the visual effects he creates to reinforce Shakespeare's magic. His colleagues at OSF say his designs capture ideas of the playwright and director as well as the practical demands of the production.

Bloodgood has designed more than 50 productions in regional theaters in Anchorage, Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Berkeley, San Jose, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Syracuse and Hong Kong.

The Oregon Arts Commission provides funding and arts programs through grants and services. Nine commissioners appointed by the governor establish its policies. It became part of the Economic Development Department in 1993.