Albany art educator wins state award

Arthur Berry of Albany was recognized this week with one of 12 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities. (Oct. 19, 2012)

Arthur Berry of Albany was recognized this week with one of 12 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities. (Oct. 19, 2012)

ALBANY -- Artist and retired educator Arthur Berry was one of 12 recipients recognized in the Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities on Tuesday.

According to the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, the newly formed award program honors deserving individuals and organizations for significant contributions to Georgia's cultural vitality. Georgia Council for the Arts, the Georgia Humanities Council and the Georgia Film and Music & Digital Entertainment Office joined in presenting the awards.

"Georgia's artistic and cultural enterprise facilitates our competitiveness in the global market and attracts new commerce," Deal said in a news release, "These individuals and organizations are building a distinct state identity while also helping make Georgia the number one place to do business nationwide."

Berry was selected to receive the award because of his dedication for more than 40 years of dedication to his art, to teaching and community leadership. According to his listed biography, Berry was chair of the Art Department at Albany State University 1967-88 and has served as mentor to hundreds of students. A founding member of the Albany Art Guild, he's been a leader with the Albany Museum of Art, the Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission and the Ritz Cultural Center. Berry's outdoor sculpture, "From Soil to Sun," is ASU's only commissioned sculpture. Even in his retirement, he continues to invite ASU students into his home for lessons and to share his private art collection.

The 12 award recipients were selected from almost 100 nominations from around the state, according to Deal's office, and represent a diverse and prestigious group of accomplished individuals and organizations that have laid the groundwork for Georgia's growing creative industry through innovative programs, community collaboration and long-term financial commitment.

"I thought it was nice," Berry said. "I told the governor, 'you've just given me an award for something I've enjoyed all my life.'"

The 89-year-old artist still paints, but because of declining eyesight, he concentrates more on abstracts. The old power of form and color are still clearly there.

Berry said he and his wife, Sylvia, knew he had been nominated for the award by Allison Forrestal with the Albany Museum of Art. Their sons, Keith in Florida and Kevin in New York, had played a significant roles with their submissions of decades of information pertaining to their father's contributions.

"I just went along for the ride," Berry said.