- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

President Bush yesterday announced nine recipients of the 2002 National Medal of Arts, an annual recognition of artistic excellence and support of the arts. "We honor these individuals for the singular distinction of their artistic careers," said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, in a press statement. The endowment oversees the nomination and selection process in conjunction with the White House.
Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush will hold a March 6 ceremony in the Oval Office to present the awards to each medalist.
"Whether they were creating stunning choreography, reconceiving contemporary stage design or adding Motown to our nation's musical vocabulary, these remarkable people have made significant contributions to our nation's cultural life," Mr. Gioia said.
Established by the Reagan administration in 1985, the National Medal of Arts is awarded to up 12 persons a year.
The 2002 recipients include the satin-voiced Motown legend William "Smokey" Robinson Jr., who emerged as a dominant force at the label as both performer and composer, and George Jones, a beloved country-Western singer from Nashville, Tenn., whose turbulent personal life mirrored his honky-tonk crying songs with a fidelity that often was hazardous to his health.
Other medalists include the late Al Hirschfeld, a longtime caricaturist for the New York Times before his death earlier this year, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, who designed the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial near the National Mall.
Florence Knoll Bassett, an architect from Miami famous for designing the interior of the CBS building in New York City, also will receive the coveted artistic prize, as will Trisha Brown, a choreographer based in New York who is credited with revolutionizing dance by moving it from the stage to "alternative spaces" such as rooftops and walls.
Rounding out the 2002 medalists are Philippe de Montebello, director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 25 years; Uta Hagen, the celebrated acting coach, also based in New York; and Ming Cho Lee, painter and stage designer for several of the country's major live-theater venues, including the Shakespeare Theatre downtown.

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