Help us celebrate the best artists and arts advocates in the region. Many of us know an artist or arts advocate that deserves a little more recognition for all they do. Nominate that special artist for the Arrowhead Arts Awards! Here at ARAC we want to recognize those who contribute to the arts in our region with these two prestigious awards, which include cash awards. The deadline to nominate an individual is December 7, 2018.

The George Morrison Artist Award

This award recognizes an individual artist whose body of work has made a significant contribution to the arts over an extended period of time.

The George Morrison Artist Award is named after internationally acclaimed visual artist George Morrison (1919-2000), who was an important member of the second generation of American abstract expressionist artists. Morrison was heralded for successfully synthesizing American Indian themes with abstraction and surrealism. As a life-long member of the Grand Portage Chippewa, he resided and worked for many years in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota.

Past award recipients have included: Dave Lynas, clay artists and teacher, Duluth; Jeff Savage, traditional artist and sculptor, Fond du Lac; Chris Monroe, visual artist and illustrator, Duluth; Elizabeth Jaakola, composer, songwriter, musician, Cloquet; Gareth Andrews, sculptor, Zim; Jim Northrup, poet, essayist, Sawyer; Cheng-Khee Chee, watercolor artist, Duluth; Mary Casanova, young adult author, Ranier; Connie Wanek, poet, Duluth; and Jim Brandenburg, photographer, Ely.

If you would like to nominate someone for the George Morrison Artist Award, please fill out the nomination form below and submit it to the ARAC office. Nominations are taken all year long.

George Morrison Nomination Form


 The Maddie Simons Advocate Award

This award recognizes an arts administrator, arts educator, volunteer for a nonprofit arts organization, or artist whose involvement in a project or program has substantially contributed to the arts in the Arrowhead Region.

The Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award is named for Madeline Simons, the first volunteer Chair of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Board. A long-time resident of Grand Marais, MN, she owned a dance studio, helped start the Grand Marais Playhouse, the Lutsen Art Fair, and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.

Past award recipients have included: Mary McReynolds, Virginia; Kathy Dodge, Grand Rapids; Amy Demmer, Grand Marais; John Faith, International Falls; Dr. Stanley Wold, Duluth; Cherie and Jerry Holm, Aitkin; Charlene Luoma, Britt; Cheryl Kramer-Milder, Cloquet; Patty Feld, Effie; and Betsy Bowen, Grand Marais.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award, please fill out the nomination form below and submit it to the ARAC office. Nominations are taken all year long.

Maddie Simons Nomination Form


2018 Arrowhead Arts Awards Winners

Craig Blacklock

George Morrison Award-winner Blacklock of Moose Lake has photographed/written eighteen books and regularly featured in photography magazines such as American Photo, Fine Arts Photo, and Outdoor Photographer. His original prints are in museums, private collections, and health care facilities, as well as shown in his personal gallery in Moose Lake.

Blacklock’s latest book St. Croix & Namekagon Rivers – The Enduring Gift captures the beauty of the region and is being issued in special editions, one that includes handwritten signatures of both Blacklock and former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, who wrote an essay for the book. The book’s goals are to celebrate the significance of the Wild and Scenic Riverway, comprehend and celebrate what it is, and understand future steps to protect this global resource area.

Blacklock has captured the intrinsic beauty of northern Minnesota’s water and land for over forty years. He grew up learning about nature, art, and photography from his late father, Les Blacklock (1921-1995) and studied art at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 1972-1974. Blacklock has been making a living as a fine art landscape photographer since 1976 when he joined his parents in Blacklock Nature Photography.

In 2005 Blacklock switched to a 35mm digital camera, specializing in large-format prints with precise, exquisite compositions and hyper-real clarity. The switch from a 4X5 film camera allowed him to make his first video which accompanied the 2007 digital publication Minnesota’s North Shore. Since 1982, Blacklock has taken his career and expanded to numerous workshops, lectures, and keynote speeches across the country dedicated to teaching the public about the art of capturing, editing, and printing images.

Blacklock was awarded the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council’s George Morrison Award because his influence has provided guidance to the Arrowhead Region that the preservation of nature is vital to our existence.


Karen Sunderman

Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award-winner and documentarian Sunderman of Duluth has been a vital player in the growth of the regional arts community as well as its growing national reputation through her long-form documentaries and two important television series, “The Playlist” and “Making It Up North.” Her shows have helped viewers keep their hands on the pulse of the creative community in the region and created hundreds of new fans for art.

Sunderman produced and hosted eight seasons of The Playlist, which has had a transformative effect on the arts community with its broad range of subjects. She has also expanded the recognition of the regional creative community with Making It Up North, a new show that highlights all kinds of creative makers in the region.

Sunderman has a background in broadcast, editing, storytelling, social media, and video production. Her achievements have been recognized with the Upper Midwest Regional Emmy in 2015 and 2012; Creative Community Leadership Institute award in 2013; Upper Midwest Regional Emmy nominations in 2015, 2014, 2012, and 2011; McKnight Fellow, Salzburg Global Seminar award in 2002, and Institute for Renewing Community Leadership award in 2001.


If you would like additional information about these awards, please contact the ARAC office by email, or by calling (800)569-8134 or (218)722-0952.