Ruth and James Ewing Arts Awards Announced

Sixteen winners of Ruth and James Ewing Arts Awards were announced by judges this week, including three lifetime achievement awards going to a local author and two well-known musicians.

Critically acclaimed and nationally known novelist Ernie Hebert; Lenny Matczynski, master teacher and renowned director of Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music; and Walter Sayre, a tireless contributor to many regional and professional musical productions, all received recognition for their decades of devotion to their art.

Judges reviewed more than 70 nominations before deciding on the 16 winners. Jessica Gelter, executive director for Arts Alive! and one of the judges, commented on the deep field of nominees.

“This year we’re celebrating leaders, visionaries and folks living among us who are transforming the arts locally and across our country and the world,” Gelter said. “Art doesn’t have to be held within the four walls of a museum or on a formal stage - these artists’ work jumps out of formal contexts and just grabs you...

“These artists demonstrate what it is to be driven and to love the process of making art, music, stories, theatre and dances. I’m so proud of our list this year,” she said.

The Keene Sentinel and Arts Alive! partner on the annual awards, which, in its seventh year, will be presented July 28 at Showroom, the Colonial Theatre’s new, small space performance center in Keene. Winners and their guests will be able to attend the event; others can watch the presentations livestreamed on The Sentinel’s website,, or The Sentinel’s Facebook page. The event will take place starting at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

Other winners and their categories were:

Visual Arts: Wendy Klemperer, a nationally recognized metal sculptor from Nelson

Literary Arts: The Peterborough Poetry Project

Interdisciplinary Arts (using multiple media): Laina Barakat, independent film director from Marlborough

Folk and Traditional Arts: John Hughes, composer, sculptor, musician and dancer from Brattleboro; and Craig Altobello, fine inlay woodworker from Peterborough

Student Artist: Jayna Leach, dancer and composer of Keene and studying at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Performing Arts: Cailin Marcel Manson, classical and operatic soloist and music director, Keene Chorale; and Al Brogdon, Dixieland Jazz musician, of Fitzwilliam

Presenter of the Arts: Benjamin Robinson and Raylynmor Opera Company of Jaffrey; and Andy’s Summer Playhouse of Wilton

Excellence in Community Engagement: Ann Putnam, letterboxing and visual artist of Wilton; and Theatre Adventure, an inclusive theater group from West Brattleboro

Arts Advocate: Randy Miller, folk artist and musician of East Alstead

Judges who made the selections were Gelter and previous winners of Ewing Arts Awards Craig Stockwell and Maureen Ahern. Also, a judge was Manson, though he did not participate in the voting in the performing arts category for which he is receiving an award.

All winning artists will be presented in feature stories in a glossy magazine that will be published on July 30, which all readers of The Keene Sentinel will receive. The awards evening will include videos of each winner and performances by some of the same artists.

For more information on the event, contact Gina De Santis, event manager at The Sentinel, at

The Ewing Awards are sponsored by Douglas Toys, the Putnam Foundation and the Hoffman Family Foundation.