Sep 16, 2007
SANTA FE - Longtime Los Alamos artist and activist Edward Grothus received one of New Mexico's most distinguished artistic honors, the Allan Houser Memorial Award, during a special ceremony Friday evening.
Gov. Bill Richardson and First Lady Barbara Richardson, along with the New Mexico Arts Commission, selected Grothus, five other individuals and an organization as recipients of the 2007 Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts.
"Each year we present this prestigious tribute to artists, craftspeople and arts supporters who exemplify the energy and creativity of our state," said the governor in a video presentation at the awards ceremony. "This year's recipients of the Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts proudly reflect New Mexico's reputation as the 'State of the Arts.'"
The First Lady hosted the event.
"Day in, day out and year after year, these artists and supporters work to enrich our lives, our communities and our spirit," she said. "We applaud their efforts and their achievements."
The annual event, held in the St. Francis Auditorium of the Museum of Fine Arts, brought out top artists and patrons from across the state to recognize the honorees.
"The Allan Houser Memorial Award was created in 1994 in order to pay tribute to the late prominent Chiricahua Apache sculptor, patriarch of Native American sculptors and former instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts," First Lady Barbara Richardson said. "The award is presented each year by the Allan Houser family and the IAIA Museum, in conjunction with the Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts."
The audience filling the auditorium cheered loudly as Grothus, 84, walked onto the stage. "I thank the Houser Family for heaping this award on my 84-year-old frame," Grothus said, speaking from the podium. "I shall bear this burden with pleasure as long as there is life in me."
Grothus owns the Black Hole Surplus Store and Museum in Los Alamos. He worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1949-1969. His life since that time has been spent advocating peace and a halt to nuclear weapons manufacturing. Grothus told the audience he quit his job in the "Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory" after making "better" atomic bombs for 20 years.
"Margaret (wife) and I then dealt with turquoise and silver, a heritage of the Indian culture, in our Shalako Shop for 25 years," he said. "It was there I became impressed with the gentle Indian culture: Father Sky, Mother Earth and how the land is held sacred."
Grothus read from "Hollering Sun," a philosophy he said is from the Indians in Taos.
"Do not move the rock or anything placed in its place by God, he said. "Not a leaf from a tree nor a bird from its nest nor a spider's silver thread. These things will fall soon enough in their time."
The First Lady introduced a video of his life from an infant, to the oldest of eight siblings, to adulthood. The video also showed Grothus with two granite obelisk monuments weighing 22 tons each, which he commissioned from a manufacturer in China. Grothus received the 44-foot tall obelisks earlier this year and hopes to have them displayed to commemorate the first atomic explosion. In June, he offered the obelisks to the Los Alamos County Art in Public Places Advisory Board for placement somewhere in the county. The board declined his offer, he said, adding that he will continue his search for a location.
The Governor's Arts Awards were established in 1974 by Gov. Bruce King and First Lady Alice King to celebrate the economic and cultural roles artists, craftspeople and arts supporters play in the life of New Mexico. During its 34-year existence, a diverse and prestigious list of painters, weavers, sculptors, dancers, musicians, storytellers, poets, actors, playwrights and potters have been honored, such as Rudolfo Anaya and Georgia O'Keeffe.
Nominations are reviewed by a committee of the New Mexico Arts Commission, which sends its recommendations to the full commission and to the governor.
Friday's ceremony was preceded by a reception and exhibition opening in the Governor's Gallery at the State Capitol. The exhibit runs through Dec. 1.