Mayor announces 2015 Mayor’s Arts Awards recipients

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the recipients of the 2015 Mayor’s Arts Awards. The award honorees include three individuals and two organizations, and represent categories ranging from promoting arts as a means of social change to cultural preservation. The Seattle Arts Commission recommended the recipients from a pool of more than 400 public nominations. The Mayor’s Arts Awards recognize the contributions of artists, creative industries and cultural organizations who contribute to Seattle’s reputation as a hub of creativity and innovation.

“This year’s Mayor’s Arts Awards winners exemplify Seattle’s creativity,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “They are the best in Seattle: talented, multi-disciplinary, passionate, visionary and diverse. It is fitting to celebrate their accomplishments at the 45th anniversary of Bumbershoot, the largest urban arts festival in North America.”

The 2015 honorees are:

  • Cultural Ambassador: Robin K. Wright
  • Arts & Innovation: Akio Takamori
  • Cultural Preservation: Densho
  • Future Focus: Seattle JazzED
  • Creative Industries: Daniel Brown

Recipients will be honored at the Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony, on Friday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre. The event will be free and open to the public. Presented in partnership with Bumbershoot, the awards ceremony is part of the official opening of Bumbershoot 2015. For 45 years, Bumbershoot has served as Seattle’s annual end-of-summer party — a celebration of music, art and creativity held beneath the iconic Space Needle. This year’s festival offers several exciting changes, including two mainstage locations (Memorial Stadium and KeyArena) and a new non-profit sponsor in the Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR)

This year Bumbershoot’s Visual Arts offerings coincide with Seattle Center and the Office of Arts & Culture’s temporary installations sited throughout the campus titled, Seattle Center Sculpture Walk, on display August 24, 2015 – January 3, 2016.  Katherine Abarbanel, Alex Anderson, J. Adam Brinson, Eva Funderburgh, Kait Rhoads, Timea Tihanyi, and Jennifer Zwick were selected to design and develop a series of small-scale temporary artworks, which will be installed on city-owned infrastructure or building facades on the Seattle Center Campus.  The artworks are intended to incite moments of surprise, contemplation, and enliven the visitor experience by introducing an element of the unexpected into everyday environments throughout the Seattle Center campus.  There will be a tour and artists reception for the Seattle Center Sculpture Walk Tour, on Thursday, September 17 from 4 – 5 p.m. The tour will start at the south Seattle Center Armory entrance near Starbucks in front of the armory “O” at 305 Harrison St. The tour ends in the armory where guests, 21 and up can participate in Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour featuring a no-host bar and specials from Armory restaurants.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards are presented in partnership with media sponsor City Arts and event sponsors The Boeing Company and Chihuly Garden and Glass.

For more information about the Mayor’s Arts Awards, including past recipients, visit

2015 Mayor’s Arts Award recipients

Dr. Robin K. Wright – Cultural Ambassador Award

Dr. Robin K. Wright is an expert on the Native arts of the Pacific Northwest. She has taught art history at the University of Washington and served as Curator of Native American Art at the Burke Museum since 1985. Since 2003, she has directed the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, a learning center dedicated to increasing Native and public access to research resources and fostering appreciation and understanding of Native art of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Akio Takamori – Arts & Innovation Award

Takamori, Akio (born 1950, Nobeoka, Japan; lives in Seattle) studied at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo before apprenticing with a traditional folk potter in Koishiwara, Japan. He came to the United States in 1974. Takamori studied at Kansas City Art Institute, receiving his BFA in 1976 and earned his MFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1978. His work is represented in many public collections, including the Seattle Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nelson-Adkins Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK. Takamori was awarded National Endowments for the Arts grants in 1986, 1988, and 1992. In 2001 he was awarded the Virginia A. Groot Foundation grant and in 2006 he received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. In 2011 he was awarded a USA Ford Fellowship. Takamori is professor emeritus at the University of Washington.

Densho – Cultural Preservation Award

Densho is a digital, public history organization. It works to preserve and share stories of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II by recording firsthand accounts, digitizing historical images and documents, and developing classroom resources. They make these materials available to the public for free so that they can be used to explore issues of democracy, intolerance, wartime hysteria, civil rights, and the responsibilities of citizenship in our increasingly global society. They encourage use of these resources to expand awareness of our country’s diverse history, to stimulate critical thinking, to develop ethical decision-making skills, and to help ensure that democratic principles are upheld now and in the future. Densho’s work is nationally acclaimed with awards from the American Library Association, Society of American Archivists, and the Oral History Association.

Seattle JazzED – Future Focus

Seattle JazzED empowers students of all skill levels and backgrounds to realize their full potential through exceptional music education. We were founded on the belief that this education should be accessible to all students, regardless of ability to pay. As a result, any student can get financial aid for any program at JazzED. Seattle JazzED programs include big band ensembles, master classes, workshops and summer camps, and we are known for innovative educational initiatives like the New Works Ensemble, Girls Ellington Project and Summer Jazz Ambassadors. Along with musical skills, JazzED students learn the values of discipline, focus and teamwork. JazzED also develops citizenship by providing students with opportunities to perform, volunteer and mentor in the broader community. Our goal is to instill a set of values in every child that makes them not only a successful musician but a successful human being.

Daniel Brown – Creative Industries

Daniel James Brown taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical editor at Microsoft. He now writes narrative nonfiction books full time. His primary interest as a writer is in bringing historical events vividly and accurately to life on the page. Daniel’s most recent book—The Boys in the Boat—has spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. The Boys in the Boat was the ABA’s 2014 “Indie’s Choice” nonfiction book of the year and won the 2014 Washington State Book Award in nonfiction. His two previous books—Under a Flaming Sky and The Indifferent Stars Above—were also finalists for the Washington State Book Award. Daniel lives in the country outside of Seattle with his wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When he is not writing, he is likely to be birding, gardening, fly-fishing, reading, or chasing bears away from the beehives.