This award encourages creativity and innovation in the arts in Southern Arizona.
It was established by Buffalo Exchange owners Kerstin Block and her late husband, Spencer Block, to encourage creativity, innovation, and excellence in the arts. The focus of the award rotates each year between emerging artists in the performing arts and visual arts, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts through education, organization, and advocacy.
Artists are nominated and selected by two separate panels of experts familiar with the Southern Arizona Arts scene. Since 1994, almost $240,000 have been awarded through this fund held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. For the 25th round of recipients in 2019, Buffalo Exchange President Kerstin Block and her daughter, Vice President Rebecca Block, are celebrating by offering two awards of $10,000 – one in performing arts and one in visual arts.
Congratulations to Allison Miller and Bryan Falcón, recipients of the 2019 Buffalo Exchange Arts Award!
“We created the Arts Award because we believe art is essential to the well-being of the community,” says Buffalo Exchange Founder Kerstin Block. “This year, we’re glad for the chance to honor Allison and Bryan, who both have an incredible impact on the local area.”
Allison Miller, a muralist and native of Tucson, has spent much of her career giving back to the community through public art projects. She currently coordinates and facilitates murals that are artistically accessible for community members, allowing young artists and other volunteers to contribute. “A lot of it for me is involving people in creating an identity for their specific space,” says Miller, “whether it’s a park or their jogging path. When people are invested in beautification, they keep it that way.” Having worked on dozens of murals, Miller’s art is a familiar sight and an ode to the unique identity of Tucson.
Bryan Falcón, winner of the performing arts award, is the Artistic and Managing Director of the Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre, a nonprofit he founded with his wife after becoming enamored with the art scene and diverse culture of Tucson. Bryan believes that theater uplifts society by transporting people to places that they would not otherwise go. “We have a chance to step into somebody else’s skin for a little while and try to understand and, hopefully, walk away with some sort of connection to the heart,” says Bryan.
It’s reasons like these that Buffalo Exchange has continued this award for the past 25 years. “Art is not something that humans do when they have nothing else to do,” said Spencer Block. “Art is an essential part of the human condition. It happens everywhere and in all circumstances.”
2018 Arts Contribution / Dante Celeiro
2017 Performing Arts / Nathanael Gregory Myers
Nominees: Alan Gonzalez, Logan Phillips, Milta Ortiza and Teodoro Eldridge
2016 Visual Arts / Rachael Rios
Nominees: Alejandro Castelar, Alex Jimenez, Lester Aguirre, Tanya Rich and Zoya Reyna
2015 Arts Contribution / Rick Wamer
2014 Performing Arts / Chris Black
Nominees: Geneva Foster Gluck, Katie Haverly, Morgan McKenna, Sergio Mendoza
2013 Visual Arts / Brenna Curry
Nominees: Dirk Arnold, Alexis Chiquete, Brooke Grucella, Josh Schachter
2012 Arts Contribution / Stephen Romaniello
2011 Performing Arts / Ashley Shea Bowman
Nominees: Jose Luis Baca, Kaia Chesney, Christopher Johnson, Joe Pagac
2010 Visual Arts / Heather Green
Nominees: Kim Largey, Ruben Urrea Moreno, Lisa M. Robinson, Johnathan VanBallenberghe
2009 Arts Contribution / Andrew W. Rush
2008 Performing Arts / Brendan Guy Murphy
Nominees: Simon Donovan, Kimi Eisele, Elizabeth Kruse-Craig, Mark McLemor
2007 Visual Arts / Martin Quintanilla
Nominees: Jill Renee Smith, Matt Cotton, Rosanna Solania, S.J. Gibson
2006 Arts Contribution / Giulio Scalinger
2005 Performing Arts / Beth Braun
Nominees: Faitha Lowe-Bailey, Mary Ann Brehmn
2004 Visual Arts / Gwyneth Scally
Nominees: David Aguirre, Francisco Rodriguez-Maruca
2003 Arts Contribution / Paul Fisher
2002 Performing Arts / Samantha Wyer
Nominees: Leigh Ann Rangel & Tammy Rosen, Michael Walk
2001 Visual Arts / Cristina Cardena
Nominees: Joshua Goldberg, Catherine Nash
2000 Arts Contribution / Carroll Rinehart
1999 Performing Arts / Albert Tucci
Nominees: Melissa Lowe, Korby Myrick
1998 Visual Arts / Daniel Martin Diaz
Nominees: David Brown, Michael Cajero, Margaret Lauderback, David Tineo, Carlos Valenzuela
1997 Arts Contribution / James Griffith
1996 Performing Arts / Carol McLaughlin
Nominees: Chieko Imada, David Rife, Barbea Williams
1994 Visual Arts / Todd Walker
Nominees: Joshua Goldberg, Barbara Grygutis, Suzanne Knosp, Kevin Osborn