2017 ICON AWARDEES
In 2017, the Inaugural Class of Awardees of the ICON Arts and Cultural Awards are a distinguished group of trailblazers and newcomers who have made their mark on Acadiana's Arts and Cultural Economy.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Richard "Dickie" Landry | Photographer, Musician, Composer, Artist
Richard “Dickie” Landry, born in Cecilia, LA in 1938 is a photographer and musician who has brought his saxophone and camera to venues and installations across the globe. A founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble who has played alongside music legends such as Paul Simon and Bob Dylan as a solo artist and, while touring with The Swing Kings, a Louisiana soul band formed in the 60s, opened for legends Otis Redding, B.B King and Wilson Pickett.
A legend in his own right, whose career is filled with momentous occasions and surrounded by titans in both music and art, Landry’s stints as a photographer painted a raw, broad stroke of New York’s rising music scene in the 1970s from an insider’s perspective. His first solo art show, at the young age of 77, showcases the inner workings of a true talent in the industry who has led an incredibly colorful and adventurous life. Dickie continues to tour, paint, write, photograph and manage an 80-acre pecan farm that he’s owned for the last 40 years.
VISUAL ARTS: Debbie Fleming Caffery | Visual Artist, Photographer
Originally from New Iberia, Debbie Fleming Caffery's photographs capture moments of rich beauty in the people and places of Mexico and the American South. A native of Louisiana, Caffery is most comfortable in the shadows and drawn to movement, pattern and deep tonality. Caffery's photography has garnered praise for nearly twenty years, and has been included in exhibitions from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. to the Photo Gallery International, Tokyo.
Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France. Four monographs have been published of Caffery's work: Carry Me Home (Smithsonian, 1990), Polly (Twin Palms, 2002), The Shadows (Twin Palms, 2002), and The Spirit & The Flesh (Radius, 2009). Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and the Michael P. Smith Documentary Award and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2011.
PERFORMING ARTS: Zachary Richard | Singer-Songwriter, Poet, Cultural Activist
A passionate patron of the French language and Acadian Culture, Zachary Richard is an award-winning writer, poet, musician and filmmaker who has explored and shared the diverse culture of Louisiana throughout his career. Through his work on groundbreaking documentaries that have explored everything from the plight of the Acadians to their place in modern culture, to music and poetry that strives to share their passions and language with an international audience, Richard has dedicated himself to sharing his love for the world and the people that raised him.
Richard has been the recipient of multiple awards and honors, and holds the distinction of being Louisiana’s first French Language Poet Laureate. Additionally, he was named Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment of the Arts, and also holds the titles of Officier des Palmes Academiques and Commandeur de l’Ordere des Arts et Lettres – both for offering significant contributions to the forwarding and improvement of French culture – from the Republic of France.
RISING STAR: Clare Cook | Choreographer, Teacher, Dancer
Clare Cook's work has been seen in venues across New York City and Louisiana. Her choreographic work appears in contemporary dance, experimental theater, musical theater, opera and film. Her choreography has been part of productions at the New York Musical Theater Festival, Ars Nova's ANT Fest, HERE Arts Center, Fringe NYC, Berkshire Fringe Festival, Planet Connections Festival (Best Choreography Award), the Bohemian National Hall and JCC in Manhattan with productions for Opera Slavica, as well as productions at NYU (Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program), Columbia University and The New School for Drama.
Clare holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been a guest teacher at Louisiana State University, teaching modern dance and at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, where she taught ballet and modern dance in Brooklyn. She has served as Education Director for the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and currently operates her own studio in Lafayette, Louisiana where her choreographic work has been seen at the Manship Theater, LSU Union Theater, BREC Theater, and a recent collaboration with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra at the Heymann Performing Arts Center, among others.
PATRON: The Heymann Foundation
Herbert Heymann is a man who, in many ways, shaped the community of Lafayette into becoming the thriving success that it is today. A dedicated supporter of UL Lafayette athletics and academics, it was his passion and mission to see the university grow and prosper. His contributions to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette include the donation of his home, which is the current headquarters of the UL Lafayette Alumni Center and his time sitting on the committee that created the Cajundome, which serves as the home of the university’s basketball team and many cultural events in the city.
A business man who constantly sought to grow the community that raised him, Herbert Heymann is responsible for much of the forward motion in Lafayette in both education and the arts, and that legacy continues even beyond his death with the inception of the Heymann Foundation in 1976 – a 501(c)(3) charity created by he and his sister Jaqueline that helps fund scholarship opportunities for local students with the goal of enriching the lives of the less fortunate and providing for the Acadiana community. The foundation has, since its inception, gone beyond the educational needs of the community and has raised money for victims of hurricane Katrina and Rita, Alzheimer’s research and many other organizations that they felt to be worthy causes not only in the Acadiana area, but around the globe. Though Herbert has since passed, his legacy of good works live on through his family, and the foundation continues their mission to provide for those in need.
CREATIVE ECONOMY: Josh Caffery and Joel Savoy Lomax Recordings
In the 1930s, folklorists Alan and John Lomax traveled the country recording songs done by everyday people. Thousands of songs and interviews they recorded eventually landed in the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress. Eighty years later, the Lomax recordings are still inspiring local musicians and producers to create Grammy-nominated recordings.
Produced and created in collaboration by grammy-award winning musician Joel Savoy and writer Josh Caffery, I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax in the Evangeline Country is a one-of-a-kind collection of recordings featuring Louisiana artists performing fresh takes on a unique series of folk songs—both French and English—that honors the songs recorded so long ago by the Lomax brothers in Cajun country.
CREATIVE ECONOMY: George Marks | Fine Arts, Sculptor, Designer
George Marks is an award-winning contemporary visual artist and social sculptor living and working in Arnaudville, La. He attended Louisiana State University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and is a recipient of the Jillian Johnson award for excellence and the Governor’s Leadership in the Arts award. Marks is a seminal member and outspoken advocate of Louisiana’s culture and arts scene, residing as president and founder of numerous organizations such as the NuNu Arts and Culture Collective and Le Semaine De Francophonie, a five-day summit that helps to build French partnerships between Louisiana’s culture and the francophone world.
A reflection of his passion for the French community in and out of Louisiana, George’s art revolves around the history and culture of southwest Louisiana, delving into topics such as slavery, human rights and cultural sustainability. From clothing and design to social sculpting, his work can be seen in corporate and private collections around the globe.
TRAILBLAZER: Buckwheat Zydeco
If you’ve gotten into Zydeco music, or felt its influence, or watched the world celebrate this great aspect of Louisiana culture over the past 30 years it’s likely been because of Buckwheat Zydeco. The band can claim the three largest selling Zydeco albums of all time. No other Zydeco artist has come close to selling as many records or exposing the music to more people around the world. Bringing the unique sound of Zydeco into the musical mainstream, Buckwheat Zydeco released the first-ever major label Zydeco album in 1987: Island Records’ “On A Night Like This.” Last month Jimmy Fallon asked Buckwheat Zydeco to play that title tune with him and the Roots to kick off his final Late Night show before taking over the Tonight Show.
Over the course of Buckwheat Zydeco’s career, Buck has gigged with everyone from Eric Clapton (with whom Buckwheat also recorded) and U2 to The Boston Pops. The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat Zydeco even performed at both of President Clinton’s Inaugurals. More national television appearances include PBS’s tribute to Paul Simon, where Buck performed with Lyle Lovett; sitting in with Paul Shaffer on The Late Show With David Letterman (and playing “Hot Tamale Baby” for Martha Stewart); and feting Ozzie Osbourne among other’s on VH-1’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Buck was recently profiled in a ten-minute feature by Scott Simon, on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday. The band has appeared six times on Letterman, and on CNN, The Today Show, MTV, NBC News, CBS Morning News and many others.
TRAILBLAZER: Clifton Chenier
A native of Opelousas, Louisiana, Clifton Chenier is considered one of, if not the, godfathers of Zydeco music. After beginning his career in 1954, Chenier became famous not only for innovating the world of music by combining the sounds of R&B and Rock N’ Roll with the waltzes and rhythms of Cajun and French dancing, but also for his flashy stage presence, typically wailing on his accordion while donning cape, crown and signature gold tooth. Clifton Chenier brought to the stage a toe-tapping, two-stepping energy that, to this day, is honored and emulated by Cajun and zydeco musicians around the world. Often credited as the King of Zydeco, Chenier’s music and passion helped spark national awareness and interest in the genre.
A Grammy-award winning performer, Chenier continued to perform until his death in 1987, recording and touring even while battling serious illness – a testament to the man’s love of the music. He is survived by his son C.J., who carries on his father’s legend of exuberant style and musical talent, performing with The Red Hot Louisiana Band – a “supergroup” of respected and well-known zydeco and blues musicians started by Clifton in 1976. Two years after his death, Chenier was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and, in 2011, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Clifton Chenier is still being honored to this day, with his album Bogalusa Boogie being preserved in the National Recording Registry for its significant contribution to culture, history and art.
TRAILBLAZER: David Egan | Musician, Songwriter
David Egan was one of the state's most well-respected songwriters, penning tracks that were performed by Etta James, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Tab Benoit, Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, Marc Broussard, Joe Cocker and others.
A writer of both song and opinion, Egan was an infrequent contributor for The Independent and regularly lent his wisdom to the music industry and its appreciators. As a piano player, he helped to reinvigorate the world of Swamp Pop and revive its attention in southwest Louisiana alongside CC Adcock and Warren Storm as a member of the group Lil’ Band O’ Gold. His ability to produce soulful, deep musings that were crooned alongside toe-tapping, moving rhythms earned him the respect of many of his peers.
Egan passed away in 2016 after a second battle with lung cancer at the age of 61. His wife, Rhonda, who he quit smoking for decades ago, continues to build his legacy and the remembrance of him through the David Egan Dreamer Fund, which helps local musicians and artists fund creative projects in the Acadiana area.
TRAILBLAZER: Elemore Morgan Jr. | Painter
Elemore Morgan, Jr. is acknowledged as the leading contemporary Louisiana landscape painter. The coastal prairie landscape of the rice growing region of southwest Louisiana with its terraced fields, towering thunderheads, solitary oaks, mills and barns is the source of his work, but through his time in the Air Force and his own personal travels, Morgan has painted landscapes across the United States, each more unique than the last and still containing some element of the Louisiana artist’s unique flare for sublime lighting and custom-cut canvases.
Morgan is known for luminous, gestural paintings which reflect the dramatic skies and vast spaces of the prairies and marshes of south Louisiana. His treatment of light and color is linked to the work of Impressionist and Fauve painters of the 19th century. Elemore Morgan, Jr. often employs shaped Masonite panels which are integral to the design and composition of his paintings, which can be cut and shaped to fit the painter’s vision for the landscapes he’s chosen to honor.
TRAILBLAZER: George Rodrigue | Painter
Born and raised in Cajun Country, Louisiana, U.S.A., artist George Rodrigue portrayed on his canvas what he feared was his dying heritage—-including its land, people, traditions, and mythology. As he often explained, he sought to “graphically interpret the Cajun culture,” preserving it in the face of a progressive world.
Rodrigue’s art studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles spawned one of the greatest success stories in American art. In the early 1990s his Blue Dog Series, based on the French-Cajun loup-garou legend, catapulted him to worldwide fame, while his dark Renaissance-like landscapes developed into robust modern masterpieces.
As a passionate philanthropist, Rodrigue founded the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, advocating the importance of the arts in education. Programs include art supplies for schools, scholarships, and arts integration through Louisiana A+ Schools.