The Art in Action Art Visionary Award is given annually to a person or organization that exemplifies, supports, and promotes the important role that art and artists play in society and our everyday lives.
2017: Nathan Sawaya, Contemporary Artist working in LEGO® bricks, Arts Education Advocate and Founder of Art Revolution
Creator of THE ART OF THE BRICK and renowned LEGO® brick artist, Nathan Sawaya is the first to utilize the toy as an art medium. Sawaya believes that “Art is not optional. It’s as important as breathing and eating.” He founded Art Revolution for the purpose of making art a priority in our schools and in our homes. He is the author of two best-selling books and his touring exhibition, THE ART OF THE BRICK, opens at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland on February 17, 2017 and is rated by CNN as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.” Nathan Sawaya’s artwork has grabbed the attention of art critics and pop culture enthusiasts alike. His contemporary pieces are both beautiful and playfully meticulous, transforming ordinary blocks into works of art through thoughtful design. His devotion to scale and color perfection while incorporating the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter, enables him to elevate the world’s most popular toy to a fine art status.
2016: Vernon Davis, Artist, Pro-Athlete, Philanthropist
Most recently playing as a tight end on the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos, Vernon Davis joined the NFL as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. He was drafted from the University of Maryland where he played football and majored in Studio Art. Throughout his celebrated football career, Davis maintained his connection to fine art as an avid painter, art collector and philanthropist. In 2010 he funded the Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship Fund and, later, the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts to promote arts education and art appreciation among youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. The foundation provides scholarships to dedicated art students and grants to nonprofits whose programs share similar ideals.
“Growing up in my community in Washington, D.C., it was tough to pursue your dreams, and the dream in my heart was always to pursue the arts.” Davis said. “I want to help young people find new ways to express themselves, to lift their spirits and fulfill their dreams through an arts education.”
2015: Dennis Hwang, Google’s Founding Doodler
Dennis Hwang “may be the most famous unknown artist in the world.” (CNN) While studying Studio Art and Computer Science at Stanford University, he began an internship at Google as Assistant Webmaster. He was soon invited to design the Google Doodles by founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. From 2000 to 2009, he designed hundreds of doodles commemorating the Olympic Games, artists’ birthdays, the achievements of Nobel Laureates, and special occasions around the world. Hwang also helped start Doodle4Google, an international art competition offering students the chance to show their artwork on the Google homepage and earn scholarships.
Hwang is currently Art Director for Niantic Labs, where he leads the development of the visual and interactive experiences of location-based mobile apps such as Field Trip, which provides users with historic and cultural details of their immediate surroundings, and Ingress or Pokemon Go, immersive multiplayer experiences in a new emerging genre of games, one in which players are inspired to explore and interact with the real world.