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City of Milwaukee Arts Board announces  2019 Artists of the Year and Friends of the Arts Awards

Artist Rosemary Ollison and veteran actor, educator and theater administrator Ray Jivoff were named 2019 Artists of the Year, the City of Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) announced. Barbara Manger, Pam Frautschi and the late Richard Ippolito were named 2019 Friends of the Arts.

We are pleased to put a spotlight on these dedicated individuals for both their artistic accomplishments and their service to our community,” said Alderman Michael Murphy, Milwaukee Arts Board Chair.

They will be honored by the Milwaukee Arts Board and the local arts community Monday, June 10, at a 4:30 p.m. reception at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, followed by an awards program and celebration at 5 p.m. Representatives of 36 city-based arts organizations that received MAB project grants will also be recognized. The public is invited. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by Friday, June 7.

Rosemary Ollison is a self-taught artist who lives in Milwaukee. She was 16 years old when she moved to the Midwest from a plantation in Arkansas. She began making art in 1994 while healing from an abusive marriage and for the next 25 years explored numerous media. Most of her work deals thematically with her identity as a black woman and celebrates the power, individuality and mystique of other women. Besides drawing, Rosemary collects glass, leather, bracelets, beads, bones and jewelry and repurposes these materials into sculptural works. She has redesigned her small apartment with layers of pattern, duct tape sculptures, curtains of woven leather, crazy quilts and inventive drawings. She also designs clothing and writes poetry. Ollison creates in dialog with God: “When I am creating I am satisfied, I am free! I no longer just exist, I am alive!” Her intense faith has guided her process and given her life a direction that she did not anticipate.

Portrait Society first presented her work in a major exhibition in 2016, which included a room-sized installation that was a recreation of her living room, with a four-channel video by Ted Brusubardis.

She has exhibited work at the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Outsider Art Fair, New York. She recently designed a hotel room for Milwaukee's new art hotel, Saint Kate. Ollison was a 2019 Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship winner in the Emerging Artist category and her work is currently on view at the Haggerty Art Museum, Marquette University, in conjunction with the award. In addition to a solo exhibition opening in August at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, she will produce her first fashion show featuring her clothing and jewelry designs. Her work is included in the collections of the Chipstone Foundation and the Milwaukee Art Museum. She is represented by Portrait Society Gallery.

Ray Jivoff has been part of Milwaukee’s theater scene for thirty years. He spent the majority of his career with Skylight Music Theater. He was first engaged as a performer in 1990, and then joined the staff as the Skylight’s first Education Director in 1999. He became Associate Artistic Director in 2009, Interim Artistic Director in 2016, and Artistic Director in 2017. He will retire from the Skylight in June 2019.

He performed in more than 25 productions at the Skylight and directed several productions including Kiss Me Kate, Urinetown, Hair, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Sing Me a Story.

As education director he created the Enlighten program, which includes an in-depth partner school program in eight MPS schools. He also created two touring shows, (The Standard Songbook and KidsWrites), in-school workshops and residencies, the annual High School Musical Celebration (which features hundreds of area high school students performing on the Cabot Theatre stage), and the Next Actors Summer Theatre for Youth (a developmental music theater project for high school students at Next Act Theatre). He also coordinated Skylight’s cabaret series and initiated its pre-show talk series Insights as well as the in-depth audience guides.

He has also been active in the theater community at large as an actor, teacher, and director. He was the theatre director at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha for 12 years, directing more than 20 productions. He has directed at many schools and colleges in the area including UW-Milwaukee, Carroll College, Marquette University, and Milwaukee High School of the Arts. He has also worked as an actor and director at numerous other area theaters including First Stage Children’s Theater and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Upon retiring from the Skylight, he will continue work with other theaters as a freelance artist.

Pam Frautschi and her husband, the late Richard Ippolito, have been strong supporters of UPAF’s arts organizations and affiliates for decades. They have been regular season subscribers and donors to most of Milwaukee’s arts groups. Richard also served on the Boards of Boulevard Ensemble and In Tandem theatre. Richard and Pam have been actively involved with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre and Renaissance Theatreworks, as well as arts productions at UWM, Alverno College and Marquette University. They have been familiar faces at the Florentine Opera Company, Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Symphony and outdoor performances at the Marcus Center.

Pam taught and performed with the Milwaukee Modern Dance Council and UWM’s initial Dance Department. She taught dance history at the Milwaukee Ballet and founded Dance Spectrum Studios. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of Wild Space Dance Company, Danceworks, Ko-Thi, DanceCircus, Theatre Gigante, First Stage and Milwaukee Ballet. Though Richard passed away earlier this year, the couple regularly predicted Milwaukee will become a “Destination City for the Arts.”

Barbara Manger is a printmaker, author, arts educator and committed community arts volunteer. She taught at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, and served as gallery director at Alverno College and Cardinal Stritch University. Her monoprints have been exhibited in the Midwest and several other countries and are included in private and museum collections.


A lifetime commitment to education in art has motivated both her volunteer and professional activities. In the 1970’s she helped found Wisconsin Women in the Arts, a statewide organization that brought together women in all the arts. She founded and continues to serve on the board of the nonprofit Artists Working in Education. She was also a board member and art teacher at the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. In 2009 her book with Janine Smith, Mary Nohl: Inside and Out was recognized by the Council of Wisconsin Writers and a recipient of 2 design awards from Midwest Independent Publishers. She also co-authored a children’s version of that book called Mary Nohl – A Lifetime in Art.


The Artists of the Year program was inaugurated in 1995 by Wayne Frank, then alderman and Milwaukee Arts Board Chair. Recipients each receive a $1,500 cash award. Funds used to launch the first award included a memorial bequest in honor of Milwaukee artist and MAB member Jim Chism. Additional funds for the award come from those arts board members who donate the stipend paid for their meeting attendance.

Past Artists of the Year include: Tia Richardson, Scott Stewart, Sheri Williams Pannell, Jane and Chris Flieller, Dasha Kelly, Della Wells, Dale Gutzman, John Riepenhoff, Evelyn Patricia Terry, Barbara Leigh, Bill Theisen, Reginald Baylor, Roy Staab, Antler, Debra Loewen, Richard Taylor, Yevgeniya Kaganovich, John Ruebartsch, Dinorah Marquez, C. Michael Wright, Lee Erickson, Ruth Schudson & Monty Davis, Sarah Price, Jason Yi, Marie Kohler, Ray Chi, JoAnna Poehlmann, Raoul Deal, Berkeley Fudge, Mark Bucher, Kevin Stalheim, Marina Lee Meyer, Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, James & Rose Pickering, Reynaldo Hernandez, Jill Sebastian, Terese Agnew, and John Schneider.


Established in 2012, the Friends of the Arts Award is given to individuals who, often behind the scenes, have distinguished themselves through exceptional service to Milwaukee’s arts community. Past recipients include: Diane Buck, Katie Heil, Jan Serr and John Shannon, Sande Robinson, Thallis Hoyt Drake, Andy Nunemaker, Steve Vande Zande, Lori Bauman, Konrad Kuchenbach, John Holland, Dorothy Nelle Sanders (posthumously), Lucinda Gordon, Gloria Wright, Sue and Tim Frautschi, Joseph Pabst, Barbara Brown Lee, Mario and Catherine Costantini.

The Milwaukee Arts Board project grant program is funded by the City of Milwaukee with additional support from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. The MAB also awards matching funds annually for new works of public art and conservation of public art. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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