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7:51 PM Sun, Nov. 18th

Buckey's finest: Local arts awards show coming to Elks

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Bill Nebeker is being honored with 2012’s Lifetime Contribution to the Arts of Yavapai County award at this year’s Buckey Awards.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Bill Nebeker is being honored with 2012’s Lifetime Contribution to the Arts of Yavapai County award at this year’s Buckey Awards.

Drew Hall and Anton Teschner - those names look familiar.

"I knew them from Big Daddy D and the Dynamites, but I'd never seen them perform as a duo," said Andrew Johnson-Schmit, who was scratching his head over a recent nomination for the Buckey Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

He spotted their names on a show flyer and investigated.

"Wow," Johnson-Schmit said. "That was a side of their creativity and technical proficiency I didn't know about."

That's the same kind of new experience he hopes to spur with the awards ceremony he founded in 2011.

The Second Annual Buckey Awards are at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at the Elks Opera House, 117 E. Gurley St., in Prescott. Ticket prices range from $10-$25.

"Our arts scene has grown so much, even in just the last 10 years, but shows and events are spread throughout the year, and artists may not get a chance to see the breadth and depth of the arts in Prescott," Johnson-Schmit said. "The Buckeys are a way to celebrate and share all that we've got."

The awards are named for Buckey O'Neill, a 19th century polymath and man-about-Western-town.

Visit buckeyawards.blogspot.com to find out more about the Buckey Awards and nominees. Visit www.elksoperahouse.com for tickets.

Ballot Boxing

Judging from some online comments about the event, 2011's Buckey awards sparked some controversy, largely because of the idea of an arts awards show, a priori.

"This show isn't about 10 people going home with awards. That's why they're for 'outstanding' artist, not 'best' or 'greatest," Johnson-Schmit said. "That's why we honor all the nominees in the program and the top five before the winner is announced."

It's a semantic distinction, Johnson-Schmit admitted, albeit an important one.

"I think it makes the town richer," he said. "There'll be names in the program you recognize you'll be astounded to see associated with different art categories."

It's the first year the event has been at the Elks Opera House, too, tacitly involving the city.

That's a good thing, Johnson-Schmit said, especially in light of controversies about public art in recent years, including the Miller Valley Elementary School mural and Granite Creek Park bench.

"Yes, there's the mural and the bench issues, and there're plenty of other things, but I approached the city, and this is a great way of bringing these groups together," Johnson-Schmit said. "I think there's no relationship that doesn't get better with more talking. We're all neighbors and share this art culture we want to celebrate."

Overture, curtain, lights

Buckey voting closed Feb. 17, netting 1,010 ballots, up 37 votes from last year.

The number of nominees this year hasn't been tallied, yet. Last year there were 519 artists.

The 2011 Buckeys had nine awards including one for: a visual artist, a literary artist, an arts educator, a performing artist, an arts activist or philanthropist, an arts event, a musical artist and the Yavapai County lifetime arts contributor.

The 2012 Buckeys has the same lineup, plus an outstanding media artist or broadcaster award.

Sean Jeralds is introducing the show again, Tumbledown House is the house band and Switch Academy of Performing Arts students are dancing.

"It's the first year for a live dance performance, and there's a special guest," Johnson-Schmit said. "I won't say more except that nobody in Prescott would think of seeing this person on stage."

A panel of six secret judges - Johnson-Schmit supervises and only votes on a tie - weigh the public votes and narrow the field to the winner from five nominees.

"We encourage fans to come and cheer for their favorite nominees," he said.

In most cases the person who won last year's award gives out this year's.

Winners are announced at the ceremony on awards night, except for one.

Bill Nebeker: 2012 Lifetime Contribution Honoree

You've probably seen Bill Nebeker's work, even if you didn't know it was his.

Those pioneer figures at the corner of Gurley and Sheldon streets? Those are his.

"Bill Nebeker is all about creativity and celebrating the past and present of this community," said Johnson-Schmit, who confirmed Nebeker is winning 2012's Lifetime Contribution to the Arts of Yavapai County award at this year's Buckey Awards. "He's got deep roots on the ground here, when the arts community was thin on ground, and flowered up during the last 40 years."

Nebeker is best-known for Western bronze sculptures. Locally, he and longtime friend Doug Hyde have a joint show, "Cultural Connections: Cowboys and Indians in Sculpture," showing at Smoki Museum, 147 N. Arizona Ave., in Prescott, running through April.

"Becoming friends, adult-wise, with someone in the same field who's got a different background is really important," said Merry Nebeker, Bill Nebeker's wife.

She offered a handful of additional explanations accounting for her husband of almost five decades as one of Prescott's highest profile artists.

Growing up in and around Prescott with a cowboy dad and riding bulls, that helped. Working at renowned Western cowboy artist's George Phippen's foundry, that didn't hurt. Having God-given talent , faith and good friends, well that's almost certainly a factor.

"It's a big wow for me and for him, for us," Merry Nebeker said. "The Buckey namesake, to have that moniker on you is pretty amazing. Bill's not the talking type, but I would say he's honored and thrilled and he loves Prescott."