On August 30, 2018, five individuals exemplifying the richness and diversity of the Seattle arts community receive the 16th annual Mayor's Arts Awards. The 2018 awardees are chef and educator Tarik Abdullah, musician and philanthropist Paula Boggs, artist Fulgencio Lazo, poet and film-industry professional Jorge Enrique González Pacheco, and Karen P. Thomas, artistic director of Seattle Pro Musica. Hundreds pack Seattle Children's Theatre at Seattle Center for the award ceremony at 4 p.m., then move outside onto the roof of Fisher Pavilion for the reception.
The Mayor's Arts Awards, 2018 Style
The annual arts awards were started in 2003 by Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955), and each year a number of artists or organizations are selected for honors. In past years, awardees were chosen in specific categories, such as cultural ambassador, philanthropist, or arts innovator. In 2018 the city eliminated categories, focusing instead on selecting individuals or organizations that enrich the community through their distinctive and diverse voices. The ceremony is traditionally held at the start of Bumbershoot, Seattle's Labor Day music and arts festival. The 2018 awards were presented by Mayor Jenny Durkin (b. 1958).
In the second year of a five-year agreement with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass selected an emerging artist to design the award. The 2018 trophy was created by local mixed-media artist Tzyy Yi (Amy) Young, who was born in Taipei and moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. The trophy she designed consists of a dozen hand-blown glass posts of differing heights, each with a stippled bulb on top, positioned under a clear globe on a white ceramic base. According to the artist, the design represents a variety of people living in harmony with their communities.
Tarik Abdullah is a chef, community activist, and educator. His food is inspired by the tastes and flavors of his childhood growing up in a Muslim family, and honors the culinary traditions of North Africa and the Mediterranean. He shares his passion for cooking through communal gatherings, pop-up dining experiences, and a program for kids he calls "In the Kitchen with Chef T," which introduces children to healthy eating habits and teaches them how to create their own recipes in a fun environment.
In September 2014 Abdullah won a spot on ABC's "The Taste," a competitive-cooking show in which he was selected to be part of a team coached by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018). After that experience, he was asked to create videos for Vice TV's show, "The MUNCHIES Guide to Dinner." Abdullah's series was called "The MUNCHIES Guide to Washington" and took viewers across the state to explore such subjects as salmon and farm-to-table cuisine.
Since 2010 Abdullah has perfected a series of pop-ups restaurants in various Seattle neighborhoods that featured different menus and concepts, such as pairing music and food. He was a founding member of the Black & Tan Hall in Hillman City, a neighborhood restaurant, music venue, and community cultural space, and is active in the Hillman City Collaboratory, which offers an inclusive and affordable place for groups to meet, build community, and work for social change.
A musician, public speaker, writer, and founder of Boggs Media, LLC, Paula Boggs is known for her deep commitment to community, education, the arts, and social justice. For a decade, Boggs served as chief legal officer, executive vice president, and board secretary at Starbucks. She has also worked in the tech sector, served as a federal prosecutor, and was an officer in the U.S. Army, where at the age of 21 she learned how to parachute from airplanes. She was the first African American woman to become a partner at the Seattle law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis, and in 2013 she was appointed to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities by President Barack Obama, a post she resigned in 2017.
Boggs began her musical career at open-mic sessions around Seattle and now performs with the six-member Paula Boggs Band, whose repertoire is primarily jazz, bluegrass, and Americana music. She has written and recorded three studio albums, and has been a semi-finalist in the Song of the Year songwriting competition in both 2014 and 2016.
As a noted fundraiser and philanthropist, Boggs is passionate about many causes, including music education, veterans affairs, and civic engagement. She co-chaired KEXP's successful capital campaign to support the move to its new home on the Seattle Center campus, and she sits on Seattle Symphony's Board of Directors. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Puget Sound Business Journal's "40 Under 40" (1995), the American Bar Association's Spirit of Excellence Award (2006), the Sargent Shriver Award for Equal Justice (2006), the Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumna Award (2009), and the Legal Foundation of Washington's Goldmark Award (2017).
Fulgencio Lazo is a visual artist who works primarily with acrylics on canvas. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, he arrived in Seattle in 1989 on a one-year scholarship to study lithography at Cornish College of the Arts. His plans changed during that year when he met the woman who would become his wife. The couple settled in Seattle and Lazo began to build his art career.
For nearly 20 years, Lazo has exhibited his work in the United States, Mexico, Japan, and France. He is represented internationally by several galleries and has numerous pieces in public collections. He is the co-founder of Studio Lazo, an organization of artists and community members that highlights the creativity of Latinx artists, writers, and musicians.
Lazo's success as a visual artist is matched by his passion for introducing and connecting the Northwest community with the culture and heritage of his native Mexico. Lazo co-founded Seattle's annual Oaxacan celebration, Guelaguetza, a family-friendly event with music and dance. He also helped establish International Children's Day at Seattle Center, which showcases performances by children in music, folk dancing, and art. He has been a pivotal force in Seattle's Day of the Dead celebrations at many area museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, where for more than 20 years he and a team of local artists have designed a unique tapete (sand painting), created in a traditional style, to celebrate the occasion.
Jorge Enrique González Pacheco
A poet, teacher, film-industry professional, and cultural entrepreneur, Jorge Enrique González Pacheco came to the U.S. in 2003 from Cuba. He is the founder and CEO of the popular Seattle Latino Film Festival, held each October in partnership with the Seattle International Film Festival, which brings the best in classic and contemporary films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy to Seattle audiences. The event began as a single weekend in 2009 and has since expanded to an eight-day festival of independent movies that includes an opening gala, filmmaker panel discussions, and workshops.
Born in Havana, González Pacheco was 12 when his mother died and he turned to writing poetry to help him deal with his loss. As a student at the University of Havana, he studied Latin American literature while working at night in a food factory. One of his professors encouraged him to continue his education, so he traveled to Madrid to pursue a master's degree. After his studies he returned to Cuba, where he became assistant director at the Cuban Film Institute.
In 2003 González Pacheco was invited to attend the International Book Fair in Florida. The experience convinced him to move permanently to the U.S. He first settled in Miami and then moved to Seattle, which he thought would get him out of his comfort zone and away from south Florida's Cuban-centric population. For more than 25 years, his poetry and prose have appeared in books, magazines, anthologies, and virtual editions, and his work has been translated into French, English, and Portuguese.
Karen P. Thomas
Karen P. Thomas has been artistic director and conductor of Seattle Pro Musica since 1987, where she has produced 11 critically acclaimed commercial recordings. Throughout her tenure, Thomas has diversified concert programming, made the chorus more welcoming for LGBTQ individuals, and improved access for youth and low-income residents. Seattle Pro Musica, which includes 80 singers and four performing ensembles, has appeared by invitation at numerous international and national festivals and performed with leading artists, including Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban.
Born in Seattle, Thomas began her musical studies at the age of 8, playing piano and guitar and composing. She received her musical training at Cornish College of the Arts and the University of Washington, where she focused on orchestral conducting, primarily opera. After graduation she found her niche: choral music with its eclectic, centuries-old mix of poetry, language, and music.
Thomas's compositions are regularly performed and broadcast throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, including the International Festival Donne in Musica in Italy, Bergen International Festival in Norway, International Congress on Women in Music in London and Spain, Oregon Bach Festival, and Goodwill Arts Festival in the U.S. She has received many grants from government agencies and foundations alike and has been commissioned to create original works for the Grand Jubilee 2000 in Rome, the American Guild of Organists, and the Goodwill Arts Festival, among others.