Wendi Winters among 6 to be awarded for contributions to Anne Arundel arts community

Phil Davis
Contact Reporterpdavis@capgaznews.com

Slain Capital Gazette reporter and editor Wendi Winters and five others will be awarded for their contributions to the arts community in Anne Arundel County next week.

Winters and five county residents — Laurie Hays, Joann Vaughan, Lisa Sherwood, Joe Vitek and Robert Benson — will receive an Annie Award on Wednesday for their “significant and lasting contributions to the local arts community,” the awards group wrote in a statement.

Created in 2000 and hosted by the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, this year’s award winners will be honored at a ceremony at the St. John’s College Key Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Winters — who was one of five Capital Gazette employees killed in a shooting at the newsroom office in Annapolis June 28 — will be awarded posthumously for her work with the newspaper. As a freelance writer and features editor, she regularly profiled local artists and highlighted various events in the county’s arts community.

The Capital photojournalist Joshua McKerrow, who worked alongside Winters for years before her death, said the community “was a living, breathing thing to her.”

“Wendi cared about every gallery, about every theater, about every performance,” he said. “Wendi was a voice. ‘Yes, I see you. I hear you. This is important.’ ”

McKerrow, who has directed local plays and had art showings, said Winters would always buy tickets to his events and tried to cover as much about local artists as possible.

“She really gave value to the art and to the artists,” he said.

Benson will receive a Lifetime Achievement award for “an impressive career spanning over eight decades as an avant-garde and visionary artist,” the council wrote.

Benson will be recognized for his impact on various mediums, as he’s performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as established himself as a prominent local artist. His “Universal Tree of Life,” a mirrored sculpture installation, is featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

Vitek will receive a Visual Arts award for his 50-year career in pottery, the group wrote. He spent the past 17 years supporting the Chesapeake Arts Center in north county.

Vaughan will receive a Arts Excellence in Leadership award as, the group wrote, her “leadership as executive director of the Maryland Federation of Art has been truly transformational.”

Hays will receive an Arts Educator award as, the group wrote, her tenure at Severn School, St. Anne’s and Live Arts Maryland has produced students “selected for regional and all-state choruses and have performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.”

Sherwood will receive an Arts Patron award as, the group wrote, her “exuberant and unbridled generosity of spirit have been a true asset for many organizations, including Live Arts Maryland.”

For more information about the awards, visit www.acaac.org or call 410-222-7949.

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