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Woodturning News: General News

Phillip Brown, Montgomery County Woodturners, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award (11/20/2017)

Thursday, November 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
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2017 Lifetime Impact Award Recipient: Phillip Brown
by Gary Guenther

At the 2017 County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, on Nov. 6 at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, presented awards to eight individuals to recognize their contributions to the county’s arts and cultural community. Mr. Leggett presented the 2017 Lifetime Impact Award to Phillip Brown for his work with Montgomery County Woodturners. Vicky Guenther presented Phil with a program signed by a number of Phil’s friends and associates who attended to wish him well.

The ceremony, which started in 2002, honors the work of individuals who have made a mark in the community through arts and culture. Leggett and his wife, Catherine Leggett, presented these awards during a special gala ceremony that included performances by Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras of Strathmore, Flying V Theatre, Metropolitan Youth Ballet, Bel Cantanti Opera, Jazz Encounters, and a screening from Gandhi Brigade Youth Media.

“We are thrilled to honor these incredibly gifted artists and scholars and appreciate the power of the arts and humanities to bring grace, hope, understanding and perspective to our world,” said Suzan Jenkins, CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. “By celebrating these eight recipients, we celebrate all that is right and beautiful in our community.”


Phil was interviewed prior to the ceremony, and gave the following responses to questions:


In what ways do you think your involvement in the Montgomery County arts and culture sector is impactful?

The formation of Montgomery County Woodturners (MCW) provides how-to-do-it training to amateurs, some of whom later create quality work accepted for exhibits and which sells in craft shows. MCW has exhibited member work at eight county libraries, those with exhibit cases, for the last 10 years. MCW has arranged multiple visits for members to major turned wood and craft collections in this area, including those of Fleur Bresler, Jerry and Deena Kaplan, Jane and Arthur Mason, and Judy and Jeff Bernstein. I have shown my turned work in invited or juried exhibits at the Tower and Popcorn Galleries, Glen Echo Park; Kramer Gallery in Silver Spring; Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown: VisArts and Washington Arts (now Artists and Makers) in Rockville; and in Creative Crafts Council exhibitions at Strathmore Mansion, and serve as the CCC treasurer. I helped hang pictures and shown in the Labor Day Art Shows at Glen Echo Park.

What do you love about the arts and culture sector in Montgomery County?

I like that there are art centers and galleries where I can see exhibitions in all media, theaters like Round House and Olney, and the Baltimore Symphony at the Strathmore Music Center.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to get involved in arts and culture?
I would recommend people identify the medium they are most interest in, volunteer at an organization, and attend events and exhibitions focusing on the medium. If they want to make art, there are classes at VisArts, Glen Echo Park, other art centers, and other places.

What was your earliest “art spark” or impetus for an interest in the arts?

An important and lasting spark for me was seeing the Craft Multiples exhibition at the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery in 1975. This exhibition caught the attention of numerous people who became craft artists or collectors.

After the ceremony, Phil's wife, Barbara Wolanin, had these recollections:

Phil was very pleased and gratified to be recognized by Isiah Leggett with a Lifetime Impact Award, one of the County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, on November 6, 2017, at Round House Theater. Phil’s was the last award presented in a long program of awards, performances, and recognition of numerous grantees, and one of only two awarded by the County Executive himself. The focus of the award was Phil’s founding of Montgomery County Woodturners and his acting as its first president. MCW has continued to be very active and successful, with many members attending the demonstrations, critiques, and skill enhancement sessions each month. Phil has arranged exhibitions of members’ work in eight county libraries with display cases for ten years, enriching county residents and bringing attention to the field. He and other members demonstrate at the county fair each year. His award certificate reads “Phillip Brown / Montgomery County Woodturners,” so in a real sense the chapter itself was recognized for its “vital contribution to the cultural life of Montgomery County.” Phil was pleased to learn he was the unanimous choice of the judges.

In Phil’s acceptance speech, he noted how twelve years ago, at a meeting he organized to see if there was interest in a new club, 23 people paid membership dues, and individuals volunteered to take on the website and the newsletter, which were both amazingly created in just two weeks. He thanked “the nine volunteers for elected positions, fifteen other volunteer roles, and our Woodworkers Club free meeting space, that keep MCW running as a vibrant educational organization” and continued “I was the catalyst who brought everyone together and provided encouragement to engage in outreach and educational endeavors.” Phil was appreciative of the fellow turners and friends who came to celebrate with him.


Thank you, Phil, for all you’ve done.


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