2023 Cleveland Arts Prize winners: Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley, Stephanie Ginese, Atefah Farajolahzadeh, Janet Macoska, Dana Jessen, Susan Braham Koletsky, Dr. Jacinda N. Walker and Richard S. Rogers.

Brian Sokol, Roe Green, Susan Paley Zak, Dennis Barrie and Cindy Katzenmeyer

The 63rd Annual Cleveland Arts Prize (CAP) Awards ceremony took place at the Cleveland Museum of Art on October 26. Established by the Women’s City Club in 1960, CAP identifies, rewards, and publicly honors and promotes creative artists whose original work and accomplishments have set a standard of excellence. It also recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations that have expanded the community’s participation in the arts.
During VIP cocktail hour in the museum’s Atrium, attendees enjoyed music performed by the Liza Grossman String Trio. Master of Ceremonies Kenny Crumpton of FOX-8 opened the awards portion in the Gartner Auditorium, followed by a live performance of The Dominick Farinacci Quartet. Farinacci, a well-know jazz trumpeter,

Aderion Barney Jr., Dr. Jacinda N. Walker and Aderion Barney Sr.

composer, big band leader and a 2022 CAP winner, was joined by seasoned pianist Joe Hunter, and newcomers Oscar Lacombe on bass and Nehemiah Baker on drums.
Other performers included Kisha Nicole Foster, (CAP 2019) who recited an original poem, titled “Sestina,” Sujatha Srinivasan (CAP 2022), who performed a traditional Indian dance titled “Whispers of the heart,” and Mariama Whyte (Verge Fellow 2019), who sang Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The Emerging Artist Award for Visual Arts went to Atefeh Farajolahzadeh, an Iranian immigrant whose work in photography and film explores the idea of being elsewhere and the psychology of being in-between. Facing the state of suspension between her current home and her country of origin, she brings a poetic sensibility to art installations through abstraction and representation, fiction and non-fiction.
Stephanie Ginese received the Emerging Artist Award for Literature. Her debut collection of poetry, “Unto Dogs,” focuses on themes of Puerto Rican nationalism, history, reproductive violence, and spirituality. She has transformed some of the humor in her writing to perform live stand-up comedy.
Bassoon virtuoso Dana Jessen received the Mid Career Artist Award for Music. Jessen serves as Associate Professor of Contemporary Music and Improvisation at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She is in high demand as a soloist, chamber musician, improviser, and new music specialist across the country.
Dr. Jacinda N. Walker was awarded the Mid Career Artist Award for Design. Walker launched designExplorr, a social impact organization whose mission addresses the diversity gap within the design profession by exposing the art form to African-American and Latino youth, mentoring young people to be successful on their design career journeys.
Photojournalist Janet Macoska earned the Lifetime Achievement Artist Award for Visual Art. Her long career began with Belkin Productions, photographing music superstars. This led to a 50-year career whereby she emerged as one of the preeminent rock photographers in the world. One of her images of Sir Paul McCartney hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Art curator and collector Richard S. “Rick” Rogers was awarded the Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts. He founded Curated Storefront, a non-profit dedicated to transforming downtown Akron into a dynamic urban destination through the arts. Since its inception, its art exhibits have engaged more than 100,000 visitors and a dozen buildings have ultimately been commercially developed and revitalized.
Susan Braham Koletsky, Museum Director of the Temple-Tifereth Israel, received the Robert P. Bergman Prize. In her 25-year tenure, she has curated more than 96 exhibitions and provided related programming. As a result of her leadership, she has established its Judaica collection to a prominent position in North America. Her work engages both Jews and non-Jews in conversations about Judaism, anti-Semitism and social responsibility.
The Barbara S. Robinson Prize went to philanthropists Joseph P. and Nancy F. Keithley, who in 2020, donated their monumental collection of 114 original artworks to the Cleveland Museum of Art, worth more than $100 million. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREA C. TURNER