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Tennessee artist Olen Bryant to be honored at Sunday's CECA Ovation Awards


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – For decades, artist and Austin Peay State University emeritus professor Olen Bryant has inspired students and community members through his patient demeanor and innovative sculptural works. His reputation as an artist was solidified locally in the early 1980s when his piece, “The Sentinel,” was unveiled as a permanent, public art installation in the center of the APSU campus.

At 2 p.m. on March 4, the University will again recognize him when he is named the recipient of this year’s George Mabry Award, presented during the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts’ annual Ovation Awards Ceremony at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center auditorium.

Since 1996, the Center has honored individuals who made significant contributions to the artistic and cultural life of the Clarksville community.

The award categories include:

  • Artist: A living Tennessee artist active in the field of literature, visual arts, performing arts, music, folk arts, architecture or design, who lives or lived in Montgomery County.
  • Community: A Clarksville-Montgomery County community organization or institution for an outstanding arts-based community program or project. Schools and the school district are not eligible in this category.
  • Business: A business or corporation that has made a significant contribution to support arts and culture in Montgomery County. Government agencies are not eligible.
    • Young Artist: A high school student within the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System who has shown exceptional gifts through student or community performances, exhibitions or publications.

The George Mabry Award, instituted two years ago, is presented to a living Tennessee individual who has made a significant impact on arts and culture in Montgomery County through philanthropy, leadership or direct involvement or a Tennessee individual who has advanced arts and culture through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Montgomery County.

Bryant was given the Distinguished Artist Award at the 2007 Governor's Award event. He is a 1950 graduate of Murray State University and a 1954 graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield, Mich. He also studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Institute in the Visual Arts in American Culture at the University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum in 1967. He spent 27 years as professor of art at APSU, and his artwork is widely collected around the United States and is a part of many art museum collections, including at APSU, the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, the Tennessee State Museum of Art and the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville.

Tickets to Sunday’s Ovation Awards are $10 or free for the Center’s Acuff Circle members. Proceeds go to the Center’s arts scholarship fund, which provides deserving young artists with the opportunity to earn college degrees and study under APSU professors and mentors such as Bryant.

For more information on the awards or to reserve a seat, contact the Center at 931-221-7876.