2020 Arts Awards

By Jennifer McKee

Karlton Clay – Artist of the Year Award

An alum of Davidson Fine Arts School, Karlton Clay has always had a passion for storytelling. He began to write at a young age, and got involved in production while at Davidson. 

March 18, 2002 marked a turning point in Karlton’s life: then 16 years old, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoma leukemia. But Karlton strengthened his resolve, and Victory Productions was born. Six years later, he graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in film and television production. 

Through Victory Productions, Karlton has written, produced and directed 15 web serials as well as numerous plays and short films, many of which have been accepted into film festivals. He’s also the author of a four-part book series “As The Earth Spins” and is the creator and editor-in-chief of VPN MAG. 

In 2018, Karlton was named one of Georgia’s Top 40 Professionals Under 40 by Georgia Trend magazine. 


Porter Stokes – 
Arts Professional Award

Porter Stokes has served as the artistic director and conductor of the Augusta Choral Society since 1999. The native of Seneca, South Carolina attended Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, where he worked with renowned Hungarian conductor Arpad Darazs. Porter holds two U of SC degrees.

Before he made his way to Augusta, Porter spent 40 years teaching in colleges in South Carolina, such as Erskine College and Presbyterian College. At the same time, he served as a multi-denominational church musician, for 34 years. 

In his work with the Augusta Choral Society, Porter is known for his performances of requiems, magnificats and oratorios, and also for finding ways to work diversity into his concerts, incorporating youth choirs, Irish musicians, first responders, military and more. 



Colleen Beyer and Wesley Stewart – The Kath Girdler Engler Award for Public Art 

Born and raised in Augusta, Wesley Stewart’s interest in sculpture began when working for his family’s business, Stewart Sheet Metal. He has a Master’s in fine arts with an emphasis in sculpture from Georgia Southern University and teaches Art Appreciation at East Georgia College’s Augusta campus. His works can be found locally at Frog Hollow Tavern and Farmhaus Burgers, and across the southeast on the campus of the University of North Georgia and in the downtown areas of Lakeland and Kissimmee, Florida.

Colleen Beyer also is also passionate about public art. She has a Bachelor’s in studio art from the University of West Georgia and a Master of Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University, where she met her husband, Wesley. Her work is influenced by nature, botanical forms and mark-making. Colleen teaches art at Harlem High School. 

Wesley and Colleen are working together on the public art project that’s underway on the Eve and Crawford street underpasses of the Calhoun Expressway, in which larger-than-life murals of plants, vines and bees meet black-and-white graphics. They also worked on the “Put-in-Cups” chain link fence art project at Hillside Park and on Augusta’s popular Traffic Boxes. 


Larry Millard and Cheryl Goldsleger – President’s Award

Larry Millard’s contribution to public art—inside and outside of Augusta—has been vast. During his career he has had 25 solo exhibitions and has been included in more than 210 group exhibitions; perhaps his best-known local work is “Harrisburg Portal,” at A.L. Williams Park on Broad and Eve streets. 

Larry moved to Augusta in 2015 after teaching sculpture at the University of Georgia for 40 years. He divides his time between Augusta, Athens and New York City and is on the board of directors for the Mid-South Sculpture Alliance and the Greater Augusta Arts Council.

Cheryl Goldsleger has received two artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and is an internationally-renowned exhibitor. Her work is represented at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, Atlanta’s High Museum and The Fogg Museum at Harvard University, among many others. 

Cheryl’s most recent exhibition, “Vast-Scale Intimate Space” was presented at the Venice Biennale in 2019 and on display at the Morris Museum of Art through August 9. She is also Augusta University’s Morris Eminent Scholar in Art. 



Carol Rezzelle – Volunteer Award

Carol Rezzelle is the founder and director of Enopion Theatre Company, Georgia’s only faith-based theater group. Since 1999, Carol has written, directed and produced more than a dozen original plays, musicals and dinner theater shows for Enopion.

Carol worked as the music director in various churches before moving into the theater at the Kroc Center, the Aiken Community Playhouse and the Imperial Theatre. Last year, she broke ground on Enopion’s new 10-acre site in Martinez, a 150-seat theater that can be converted for dinner shows. In September, Enopion will host “Into the Woods and Onto the Path,” a socially-distanced outdoor theater production and fundraiser. 



Velvet Perry – Media Award

Velvet Perry is the vice president and general manager of Perry Broadcasting in North Augusta, the largest independently and black-owned broadcasting company in the nation. A longtime promoter of the arts in Augusta, Velvet uses her resources to champion the local scene.

Earlier this year, she was elected chairman of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters, the first black person to hold the title in the association’s 85-year history. Velvet is also on the board of the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History; from 2011-2014, she was the recipient of that museum’s Black History Platinum Award.   


Doctors Hospital – Sponsor Award

Doctors Hospital of Augusta is one of only 17 hospitals in the state that has achieved the Chairman’s Category of the Georgia Hospital Association, placing it in the top 5 percent in successful treatment of heart failure, pneumonia and more. It’s also home to the largest inpatient burn center in the country, the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. 

But Doctors Hospital also sets itself apart through its commitment to compassionate care and treating the whole individual with dignity. It applauds the local arts community through programming for patients and the general public (currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This includes support of Garden City Jazz, Creative Impressions, the Westobou Festival and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

 Photo credits Amy J. Owen; Larry and Cheryl by RedWolf 

Appears in the August/September 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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