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Missouri Arts Council honors local African-American artist, philanthropic couple and Delmar Loop

File photo. Artist Solomon Thurman painted this piece of two African-American men, a police officer and a man wearing a Hands Up Don't Shoot shirt after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.
File | Provided |Solomon Thurman

The Missouri Arts Council is honoring three St. Louisans and one local hot spot with its 2018 annual awards.

The council chose Solomon Thurman for its Individual Artist award. Thurman is perhaps best known for a piece air travelers see every day: the 51-foot-long “Black Americans in Flight” mural at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. He created the work in 1990 with his mentor, the late Spencer Taylor.

Solomon and Pat Thurman pose outside their 10th Street Art Gallery in downtown St. Louis, in this 2013 photo.
File | Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Thurman, who has painted for 30 years, describes his work as conceptual realism and contemporary abstraction. His pieces often tell stories of the African diaspora in the United States.

Thurman and his wife Pat Thurman own the 10th Street Art Gallery at 419 N. 10th St., which they opened in downtown St. Louis in 2011.

Philanthropic couple and artistic street

The council selected Tom and Cathy Sakiyama of Chesterfield for the organization's 2018 Philanthropy award.

The Sakiyamas have long supported a number of theater companies including smaller troupes like R-S Theatrics and Insight Theatre Company, as well as larger theatrical institutions such as The Rep and Stages St. Louis.

The couple has donated money, and time, supported local students and invited out-of-town actors to stay in their home.

Fine to Drive plays at the new Delmar Hall in this September 2016 photo.
File | Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

For this year’s Creative Community award, the council chose a stretch of University City's Delmar Boulevard known as The Loop for its arts organizations, galleries, murals, sculptures and entertainment venues.

The area is home to the St. Louis Walk of Fame, which features star-shaped sidewalk plaques honoring iconic figures with St. Louis connections, ranging from Maya Angelou to Robert Gaulliame to Joe Garagiola.

In a news release, the Council lauded The Loop for having a “social, ethnic, and cultural diversity [that] has made it a community convening place for artists, activists, students, tourists, and residents alike.

There are six awards in all. The other honorees are educator Jeff Sandquist, Rolla; the Ragtag Film Society of Columbia, and Sharon G. Kosek of St. Joseph for her leadership in the arts. The awards will be presented Feb. 7, 2018, in the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City.

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