Buffalo Exchange, a privately owned, family-operated fashion resale retailer based in Tucson, will honor Allison Milller and Bryan Falcón, recognized for their work in visual and performing arts respectively, as the recipients of the 2019 Buffalo Exchange Arts Award. As this year’s winners, Allison and Bryan will each receive a $10,000 cash award during a ceremony on January 30, 2020 at the Community Foundation Campus.
The Buffalo Exchange Arts Award was established by Buffalo Exchange owners Kerstin Block and her late husband, Spencer Block, to encourage creativity, innovation, and excellence in the arts. Held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, this Fund for the Arts has awarded more than $220,000 to individuals in the Southern Arizona art community since 1994.
“We created the Arts Award because we believe art is essential to the well-being of the community,” says Buffalo Exchange Founder Kerstin Block.
Allison Miller, a muralist and native of Tucson, has spent much of her career giving back to the local community through public art projects. She currently coordinates and facilitates murals that are “artistically accessible” for community members to create; allowing young artists and other volunteers to contribute to the art. “A lot of it for me is the process and involving people in creating an identity for their specific space whether it’s a park or their jogging path […] I think that contributes to keeping spaces precious; when people are invested in beautification, they keep it that way.” Miller shared.
Having worked on dozens of murals (including 11 in 2016 alone) Miller’s art is a familiar sight and an ode to the unique identity of the city that contributed to her art as a teenager. She was trained in large scale installation and design through youth art programs funded by public grants, and after attending college in New York, she returned home to pursue public art because of the impact she realized it could make. “Versus showing in more selective spaces, public art is exposure for the community as well. It’s the ability to transform a space from something that’s more monotonous to something people take pride in.” said Miller.
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. Falcón, who grew up in the Midwest, developed a love of storytelling after seeing a puppeteering company visit his school. “I found that every time I had any kind of brush with any sort of storytelling, that it just brought my world alive.” Falcón shared.
Bryan believes that theatre uplifts society in allowing people to transport themselves to places that they would not otherwise go. “We have a chance to be able 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” said Bryan.
Bryan was both honored and surprised to receive the award this year and hopes to utilize it to expand the organization’s boundaries while continuing to build on programs like Scoundrel Society; an initiative that seeks to create a home for multi-generational audiences to experience art together. “[When] running a nonprofit, so much of life is full of extreme highs and some hard times too. So to be in that moment when someone is saying yes to you [and] recognizing that the work you do is valued. That means a ton, so I am grateful to Buffalo Exchange and the Community Foundation for facilitating this.”
Each year candidates for Buffalo Exchange’s Arts Award are nominated and selected by two separate panels of experts who are familiar with the Southern Arizona Arts scene. The focus of the award changes from one year to the next, highlighting emerging artists in the performing arts and visual arts, and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts through education, organization, and advocacy.
To learn more about the Buffalo Exchange Fund for the Arts and see a complete list of past recipients, click here.