Prolific Pittsburgh visual and performance artist Vanessa German has been named the 2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts, Artist of the Year.
German is founder of Love Front Porch and the ARThouse, community arts initiatives for the children of Homewood.
German’s visual art work is in private and public collections around the country. Among her recent stage performances was a starring role as legendary blues singer Gertrude Pridgett, a.k.a. Ma Rainey, in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre.
A couple of legendary Pittsburgh musicians, jazz guitarist and composer Joe Negri, and percussionist Roger Humphries, were named recipients of Lifetime Achievment in the Arts awards.
Negri has released six albums, including a 2010 release with pianist Michael Feinstein.
Negri taught music at the University of Pittsburgh for 49 years, as well as Carnegie-Mellon and Duquesne universities. He is also well known to many as “Handyman Negri” on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Humphries was drumming at Carnegie Hall by the age of 16. He went on to join the Horace Silver Quintet and was one of the players featured on Silver’s groundbreaking album “Song for My Father,” including the title track with its bossa-nova beat. Humphries also drummed for Ray Charles.
Mary Brenholts, director of Artists in Schools and Communities for 20 years at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, is being recognized for Arts Leadership & Service.
Governor Tom Wolf will present the awards Sept. 27 at 7 p.m., at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.