Governor’s Creative Leadership Awards Recognize Excellence in Creative Industries

Today, Gov. Polis and the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) are pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the Governor’s Creative Leadership Awards. Each year, the Creative Leadership Awards recognize Coloradans who have demonstrated a significant commitment to the state’s creative landscape through civic leadership and volunteerism. 

“Art is a reflection of our values and ideals, and here in Colorado we continue to elevate our artists and creative communities. The creative arts are a wonderful way to inspire and bring people together, which is why I am proud to congratulate the 2023 Creative Leadership Award recipients for their meaningful work in communities across our state,” said Gov. Jared Polis.

The awards will be presented on June 1, 2023 at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit to be held in Crested Butte. Gunnison artist Anders Johnson, Associate Professor of Art at Western Colorado University, designed the awards. 

"The Governor’s Creative Leadership Award recipients embody the remarkable ways in which arts and culture impact Coloradans' lives and our communities. Each has made a unique contribution to Colorado, and we are thrilled to recognize their achievements,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT Executive Director.

The 2023 Creative Leadership Award recipients include: 

Ed Dwight - Lifetime of Achievement Award

Sculptor Ed Dwight’s monumental artworks commemorating African American leadership and legacy have left an indelible mark on Colorado and the nation. A former U.S. Air Force Test Pilot and the United States' first African American Astronaut candidate, Dwight has been recognized for his achievements in space activities and his contributions in art and Black history. He is known for creating a bronze bust of Colorado’s first black lieutenant governor, George Brown. Early work commissioned by the Colorado Centennial Commission and the National Park Service (NPS) during the 1970s commemorated the contribution of Blacks to the American Frontier West and the history of Jazz, respectively. 

Dwight completed his first large-scale commission, featuring abolitionist Frederick Douglass, for the NPS and has since completed over 130 large-scale installations throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has also created over 18,000 gallery sculptures sold throughout the world. Dwight is the recipient of enumerable “Living Legends Awards.” Most recently, he was inducted into the newly created Space Force, and NASA has honored Dwight by sending several of his bronze pieces on Space Missions. He holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Denver.

Ann Lukacs - Arts and Community Action Award

Presented to individuals that have demonstrated selfless service and inspired others to take action or catalyze change in their community using the arts.

Artist, photographer and cinematographer Ann Lukacs has been a resident of Park County for 16 years and Breckenridge 27 years prior to that. She was recently certified a Colorado Change Leader by Governor Jared Polis for exceptional community development efforts. As part of her certification, Lukacs created the Park County Creative Alliance, a nonprofit arts alliance dedicated to uniting Park County through the arts.  

Lukacs served on the Board of Arts for Colorado, a statewide nonprofit advocacy network, and was appointed by Governor Roy Romer to serve on the Advisory Board of the Colorado Women’s Economic Development Council from 1990-1995. She has been on the board of several nonprofit organizations, including the Breckenridge Film Festival, Summit Historical Society and Women of the Summit. 

By profession, Lukacs has had a prestigious career in the film industry. She was one of the early female cinematographers and worked on many major feature films. Lukacs has been a strong advocate for the promotion of film and video opportunities in Colorado. Lukacs currently owns the “Bucking Horse Gallery” in Fairplay that displays her photography and serves as the Park County Creative Alliance office. Lukacs continues to be dedicated to preserving and advancing arts and culture in Colorado and in her community.  

Michael Paglia - Arts and Creative Placemaking

Presented to individuals that use the arts to envision new futures through activities such as activating a public space, animating a community or sparking redevelopment.

Professional writer Michael Paglia works as an art critic, curator, educator and script writer. During his nearly thirty-year-long writing career, he has focused on the art and architecture of the American West and has gained specialized knowledge of the art scene in Colorado. His columns have appeared in Westword, a Denver weekly, since 1995. His features, essays, reviews, and reports on the visual arts and the built environment have also been published in regional and national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. Paglia was the Denver correspondent for, and a contributing editor to, Art Ltd., a Los Angeles-based art magazine. 

Paglia holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has taught at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and is periodically a lecturer in art history at the University of Colorado Denver. Paglia is a past recipient of a Society of Professional Journalists Award and the prestigious DAM Key Award from the Denver Art Museum for his contributions to the Colorado art world.

Andrea Rabold - Arts and Social Change

Presented to individuals that work to solve a critical social problem such as homelessness, drug prevention, abuse, poverty or racism using creativity and/or arts.

Andrea Rabold’s journey at Mirror Image Arts started in 2009 as an actor in their first play. In 2011, founder Erin Jorgenson handed the custodianship of the organization to Rabold. Since then, she has led Mirror Image Arts to become a dynamic youth advocacy organization in Denver, disrupting the school to prison pipeline through participatory theater. In 2022, the organization facilitated 77 programs in partnership with schools, youth detention centers, and diversion programs. Rabold’s leadership has amplified youth voices that often go unheard. She was instrumental in helping to develop legislation signed into law by Governor Polis last year, prohibiting courts from ordering juveniles to pay restitution to insurance companies. 

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