Each year, the Greater Augusta Arts Council recognizes outstanding members of the Augusta community for their support and contributions to the arts. This year, we share personal insight from the 2023 Arts Awards’ nominators regarding the winners.
Pat Knox-Hudson’s impact on the community, especially the arts community, has been profound, says Greater Augusta Arts Council president and nominator Rhian Swain. Quiet, humble and completely uninterested in receiving accolades for her great deeds, she is far more interested in the attention going to the many things she supports. There are countless projects that she’s quietly helped to shape in Augusta — many of them without anyone knowing she played a pivotal role.
Knox-Hudson moved to Augusta in 1963 with her husband Pete. The first board she served on was the New Bethlehem Community Center, helping establish the first Head Start Program in the area and overseeing the music for the center’s kindergarten. Knox-Hudson was a founding member of the Open Door Preschool board, Augusta’s first integrated nursery and kindergarten.
She has served on innumerable boards: Episcopal Day School, Augusta Symphony, Augusta Museum of History, Saint Paul’s Tuesday Music Live, Augusta Choral Society and the Family Counseling Center of the CSRA. She continues to serve as an emeritus member of the Sacred Heart Cultural Center and the Jessye Norman School of the Arts boards.
“Pat’s love for arts and culture, as well as her passion for historic preservation, were instrumental in the rehabilitation of the Miller Theater. She is one of our greatest cheerleaders,” says David Watts, general manager of the Miller Theater.
When notified of her receipt of the President’s Award, her first response was, “Why me?” Beloved by everyone she knows and particularly by those who are lucky to call her a friend, Knox-Hudson is one of the most valuable gems of Augusta. “In today’s world, Ms. Pat Knox-Hudson is a rare breed indeed. She is true magic,” says Scott Seidl, executive director of The Augusta Players.
Artist of the Year Award
“Most local music fans know Jamie Jones as one of the most talented drummers to play in this area’s rock groups which include Impulse Ride, People Who Must, Tobacco Roadkill and Ed Turner’s No. 9 Band,” says nominator the late Don Rhodes, longtime journalist with Morris Communications, LLC. But about 40 years ago, Jones was turning heads with country music nightclub fans as a 14-year-old child prodigy burning up his cymbals and drum heads on classic ‘60s songs like “Wipeout.”
Born in Orlando, Fla., and reared in Augusta, Jones became a mentor of Randy Johnson with the band Nightlife and Steve Ferguson, drummer for Southern Comfort, (the house band of the Crown Room Lounge at Horne’s Motor Lodge on Gordon Highway). That led to Jones becoming widely known to ‘80s country music fans and having a regular gig with country singer Dawn Tyler. At 15, he won the Junior Division category at the Exchange Club of Augusta’s fair with a drum solo.
Rhodes describes how Jones’ talents were encouraged by his mother, Judy and his father, Randy. His first professional show was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars club in Thomson, Ga. Name a local nightclub or major local music festival and most likely Jones has played it from small, intimate places like the Fox’s Lair and Joe’s Underground to large venues like Bell Auditorium, the Imperial Theatre and Miller Theater. In recent years, Jamie has returned to his country music roots as the drummer of the award-winning Whiskey Run band, which was formed in 2013 and released its debut album in 2018.
The Kath Girdler Engler Award for Public Art
Cyndy Epps holds a Masters of Fine Arts in studio art from Georgia Southern University, and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in graphic design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She exhibits regularly at regional and national galleries including the Averitt Center for the Arts (Statesboro, Ga.), Jones Gallery (Kansas City, Mo.) and the Dalton Gallery at Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Ga.). Juried art projects include Augusta’s Art on the Wall for the Augusta Waterworks facility, Art the Box and It All Flows to the Savannah (storm drain mural project). “She has strategically led student mural projects on display at the Beer Garden, Draft Tap Society Taproom and Langston Chapel Middle School (Statesboro, Ga.),” says co-nominator Pax Bobrow, project manager at the Greater Augusta Arts Council. Epps currently teaches drawing, painting and art appreciation at Augusta University.
“Cindy is a giver. In her classes, she is completely focused on helping her students learn and explore the subject matter and projects. She goes outside of the classroom [to instruct] as well,” says co-nominator Elizabeth Collins, a faculty member of Augusta University’s art department. For example, Epps applied for and received a grant to take a bus of art students on a field trip to Artfields in Lake City, S.C., this past semester. She invested her personal time to make all arrangements so the event was a great experience for the students. Collins explains how Epps “is a professional artist with work in various galleries, but she is mainly in the business of sharing her time and talent through teaching and helping others navigate the complex arena of art.”
“Jennie Montgomery is a household name in Augusta,” says nominator Charmain Brackett, publisher of Augusta Good News. She has been at WJBF-TV since 1995, anchoring several nightly newscasts. She does features on arts organizations and artists on her weekly talk show, Jennie, and she is frequently invited to emcee events and support local art groups by attending events.
Montgomery has won multiple awards for her broadcast journalism. Her biography on the Channel 6 website states that she has been recognized numerous times by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB). She has won four GABBY awards for Best On-Air Personality. The GAB has also honored her work with a GABBY for Best Documentary and a Merit Award for Best Series.
In 2000, she was named Best Female Anchor by the National Academy of Television Journalists. She is also the recipient of two Edward R. Murrow awards. Through the years, readers of Augusta magazine have voted Montgomery as Best News Anchor and Best TV Hair! She was the 2006 recipient of the Augusta West Rotary Club’s Louis Harris Media Award for outstanding professional and civic contributions to the Augusta community.
Montgomery was also honored with the Alumni Excellence Award from her alma mater Guilford College and the Doing The Most Good award from the Augusta Salvation Army. For 15 years, she wrote a monthly parenting column, Mom2Mom, for Augusta Family magazine. The Parenting Media Association celebrated her work with the bronze, silver and gold awards for the Humor Columnist category.
“Jennie Montgomery is so deserving of the media award because she is a true champion, not only for the community at large, but the arts community as well,” explains Brackett.
Arts Professional Award
Scott Seidl is renown as a creative business executive and artistic director who is responsible for encouraging the growth of a popular theater company and turning it into a preeminent regional arts destination. In less than five years, he grew the operating budget, improved audience attendance and created a collaborative arts culture among all of the performing arts entities in the Augusta area. At the same time, he created a more diverse and expansive volunteer base and audience; expanded the organization’s creative and educational excellence through a culture of inclusion; and implemented current theatrical practices and technology.
He has secured grant funding, improved marketing practices through social media platforms and initiated a visionary long-term plan for rebranding and growth. He has diversified the board of directors’ engagement in the work of The Augusta Players, increased awareness and community financial support of Camp Wonderland and managed the comprehensive process into a new storage facility.
During the first 11 months of the pandemic, he created 14 critically and popularly acclaimed virtual shows. “Creatively, he isn’t just the proverbial triple-threat. He’s got it, and done it all over the length of a career that has taken him to New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and, yes, Montana,” says nominator Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Musuem of Art.
Sponsor Organization Award
Showpony, a showroom led by Sean Mooney, specializes in creating branded merchandise and promotional products for both profit and non-profit clients, from school t-shirts to national campaigns. This group of veteran merchandisers and trained designers devise out-of-the-box promotional ideas. One of those outstanding ideas was Showpony’s “We Give A Shirt” campaign. The concept was a partnership between Showpony and its sister-company Wier/Stewart, another strategic creative firm downtown that is also committed to Augusta. “What started as a simple way to put money back in the pockets of some of their personal favorites [businesses] during the pandemic evolved into a full-fledged fundraising platform,” says nominator Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Musuem of Art. Grogan emphasizes how it was particularly helpful to small locally-owned businesses and non-profit cultural organizations. Among the most visible beneficiaries were cultural organizations including Arts in the Heart, Augusta Canal Authority, The Augusta Players, Augusta Pride, Colton Ballet, Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, Jessye Norman School for the Arts, Leadership Augusta and the Morris Museum of Art.
As seen in the August/September 2023 issue of Augusta magazine.