Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox honored Ta’u Pupu’a, Elsie Holiday and Diane P. Stewart at a Nov. 10 awards ceremony held at the Governor’s Mansion.
Each year, Utah’s governor honors three artists in visual art and three in performance art.
Ta’u Pupu’a, who was born in Tonga and raised in Salt Lake City, played football at Weber State and the NFL, is now an opera tenor who lives in New York City and sings in venues worldwide. He has recently begun a feature-length film about his life with Disney.
Elsie Holiday, who lives in Monument Valley, is a master Navajo basket weaver. She is known for her flawless workmanship and her innovative, sometimes humorous designs.
A special lifetime achievement award was given this year to Diane Stewart, a benefactor to many arts organizations and the owner of Modern West Fine Art, which promotes non-traditional art created by racially diverse artists.
PBS Utah is producing a documentary series about the honored artists; this will air in the spring of 2022.
Four more artists will be honored in the coming months:
- V. Kim Martinez, muralist, professor and community activist
- Jack Ashton, violinist, director of Young Artist Chamber Players, educator
- Camille and Alicia Washington, founders of Good Company Theatre
- Fidalis Beuhler, painter, professor
These artists were selected by the governor and first lady from a group of nominees submitted by the Governor’s Mansion Artist Awards Committee; they want to honor artists from every area in Utah and from a diverse range of ethnicities and sensibilities.
The awards events also raise funds to preserve and furnish the Governor’s Mansion, a beautiful historic home on South Temple in Salt Lake City that was donated to the state by the Kearns family.