At the 9th Annual Viola Awards Gala on Saturday, March 4, 2017, the Flagstaff Arts Council announced the winners of the 2017 Viola Awards. The event honored forty-two nominees in eight categories. Over 600 people were in attendance at the Gala event.

Two Viola Legacy Awards were given to honor lifetime contributions in the arts and/or sciences in Flagstaff. Dr. Robert Breunig, former Director of the Museum of Northern Arizona, was honored first for his leadership and successes in not only helping the museum recover from past troubles, but also in bringing it to a high level of excellence in all phases of its operation.

The second Legacy Award went to Nando Schellen (1938-2016), former Director of NAU Opera Theatre. Schellen had a major impact on Flagstaff and specifically students at NAU over the course of his fifteen years in the position.

2017 Viola Award Winners

The awards were announced at the High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, venue for the Viola Awards since 2011. Emcee Garrison Garcia led the audience through the awards ceremony, which featured performances by Viola Award winners Dark Sky Aerial and Kristopher Kohl, and Viola Award nominees False North and the Mother Road Trio.

Award Facts and Information

  • This year’s Viola Awards artist was Steve Warburton. He crafted the awards with the spirit of reaching upwards, using local and exotic woods to symbolize unity in diversity (see photo at right).
  • Shawn Skabelund became just the sixth two-time recipient of a Viola Award. He won also in 2014 for his exhibition, Virga: The Hunt for Water.
  • Composition for Forests, the collaborative performance and visual art project by Shawn Skabelund and Janice ChenJu Chiang, is the first project to be nominated in two categories in the same year.
  • Most winners this year were first time nominees. Dark Sky Aerial, Elizabeth Hellstern, Sheila White, Melissa Cripps, Kristopher Kohl, David Christiana, and Janice ChenJu Chiang were all first time nominees.
  • Dark Sky Aerial’s OPIA received more nominations from the community than any other nominee this year.
  • Elizabeth Hellstern’s Telepoem Booth actually features several Viola Award winners, reading poems in the dial-a-poem booth: Tony Norris, James Jay, and Jane Armstrong.
  • This is the third time in Viola Award history that a Panel has awarded two Viola Awards in a category. The first time was in 2015 when both Tina Mion and Ulrike Arnold won in the Visual Arts. This year, both the Storytelling and Performing Arts categories had two winners.

Photos from the Gala Event

Winner Photos
Gala Photos

Check out the 2017 Nominee Blooper Reel here >

How Viola Award Winners are Selected