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Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee Announces 2019 Inductees into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame

~ Ceremony to take place Saturday, April 13 ~

Tallahassee –

Today, Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee announced the selection of recording artist Bertie Higgins, painter George Inness, Jr. and sculptor Ann Norton as the 2019 inductees into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place this Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 4 p.m. at The Edison Restaurant in Tallahassee in partnership with the annual Word of South Festival. The 2019 Florida Folk Heritage Award recipients, which were announced in January, will also be presented at the event.

“The Florida Artists Hall of Fame recognizes our state’s most distinguished artists and to be inducted is the highest honor bestowed on artists by the State of Florida,” said Secretary Lee. “These three artists have made significant contributions to their craft and their work continues to be enjoyed by millions of people today.”

Established by the Florida Legislature in 1986, the Florida Artists Hall of Fame recognizes persons, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions to the arts in Florida. Inductees will receive a commemorative bronze sculpture commissioned by the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and made by Enzo Torcoletti, an artist in St. Augustine. A plaque for each inductee will also be permanently installed on the Florida Artists Hall of Fame wall located in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol building. 

The Florida Artists Hall of Fame currently consists of more than 50 inductees, including musician and performer Ray Charles, actor and director Burt Reynolds, writers Zora Neale Hurston, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway, filmmaker Victor Nunez, and visual artists Duane Hanson, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist.

The 2019 Florida Artist Hall of Fame Inductees

Bertie Higgins (1944 – )

Released in 1981, Tarpon Springs native Bertie Higgins’ first hit record, “Key Largo,” was certified gold and spent 17 weeks in the Billboard Top 40. Higgins followed this success with a string of hits including “Just Another Day in Paradise” and “Casablanca.” With more than 25 albums and compilations to his credit, Higgins continues to perform regularly with his band, making regular appearances on the Las Vegas Strip and is one of the most requested American entertainers in China. Higgins was nominated for the Florida Artists Hall of Fame by his friend, mentor, and fellow Hall of Famer, the late Burt Reynolds.

George Inness, Jr. (1854 – 1926)

George Inness, Jr. was one of America’s foremost figure and landscape painters and a respected philanthropist. He is recognized as a great Florida artist for his depiction of the state’s unspoiled landscapes full of flora and fauna. The son of 19th century American painter George Inness, he enjoyed recognition at home and abroad throughout his lifetime and his works can be found in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, New Jersey’s Montclair Art Museum and the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art in Daytona Beach. Many of his works can also be found in private collections, including an extensive collection of his most significant paintings housed at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Tarpon Springs.

Ann Norton (1905 – 1982)

Ann Norton’s artistic vision was shaped by Cubism and the Art Deco style, but also by the architecture and sculpture of Romanesque and Gothic churches which she studied on trips to Europe. During her lifetime, Norton’s works were exhibited frequently in New York and Florida but also in France and Italy where they are found in the collections of national museums. In 1942, she became the first instructor of sculpture at the new Norton Gallery and School of Art and in 1948 married the museum’s founder Ralph Hubbard Norton (1875-1953). Over the next three decades she planted the magnificent gardens of the Norton estate on Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach and created the monumental sculptures which inhabit them.

The 2019 Florida Folk Heritage Award Recipients

The 2019 Florida Folk Heritage Awards will also be presented during the ceremony. The winners of the Florida Folk Heritage Awards, which were announced in January, are:

James Billie, former Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida 
Tina Bucuvalas, Curator of Arts and Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs
Jane Wells Scott, Fiddler from Tallahassee 
Michael Usina, Minorcan cast net maker from St. Augustine 

For more information on the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, please click here. For more information on the Florida Folk Heritage Awards, please click here.

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About the Division of Cultural Affairs
The Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs is Florida’s legislatively designated state arts agency. The Division promotes the arts and culture as essential to quality of life for all Floridians. To achieve its mission, the Division funds and supports cultural programs that provide artistic excellence, diversity, education, access and economic vitality for Florida’s communities. For more information, visit dos.myflorida.com/cultural.

About the Florida Folklife Program                                                                                         The Florida Folklife Program, a component of the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources, documents and presents Florida's folklife, folklore and folk arts. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the program coordinates a wide range of activities and projects designed to increase the awareness of Floridians and visitors alike about Florida's traditional culture. Established in 1979 by the legislature to document and present Florida folklife, the program is one of the oldest state folk arts programs in the nation. For more information, visit flheritage.com/preservation/folklife.

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