Arts and Entertainment

Double arts honor for Fairbanks couple

A Fairbanks couple has received an unprecedented double honor.

The Alaska State Council on the Arts and Alaska Humanities Forum announced on Tuesday that author Frank Soos, former University of Alaska Fairbanks creative writing teacher, has been named the next Alaska State Writer Laureate.

The same press release announced that sculptor Margo Klass, Soos' wife, is the individual artist recipient of the 2015 Governor's Award for the Arts. The arts awards and the Governor's Awards for the Humanities will be presented in Juneau on Jan. 29.

Available records indicate that this is the first time that a husband and wife will be simultaneously recognized in separate disciplines at the annual awards ceremonies.

Arts council records show that the late Richard Dauenhauer and Nora Marks Dauenhauer shared a single award for Alaska Native Arts in 1989. Historians, translators and authors, both Dauenhauers were also writers laureate, but at different times. Musicians Paul and Linda Rosenthal have each received the Individual Artist award, but in different years.

Soos' short story collections include "Early Yet," "The Bamboo Fly Rod Suite" and much-acclaimed "Unified Field Theory." He has previously received the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Klass, who had a solo show at the Anchorage Museum earlier this year, is best known for assembled sculptures that reflect the mechanics of books, altar pieces and other moveable art forms. Her work frequently uses text and she has often collaborated with Soos on projects, exhibits and books.


Other recipients of the arts awards include Leslie Matz, chair of the Fine Arts Department at Dimond High School in Anchorage, who will be given the Arts Education Award; the Sitka Arts Camp, recipient of the Arts Organization Award; and Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau, recipient of the Alaska Native Arts award.

The 2015 Governor's Awards for the Humanities will go to former Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, campus director of the University of Alaska Mat-Su College in Palmer; Annette Evans Smith, president and CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage; Aldona Jonaitis, director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks and an expert on totemic art both in traditional and popular commercial culture; and Anchorage actor Allison Warden, an interdisciplinary artist whose performance work often addresses Native and environmental issues.

Mike Dunham

Mike Dunham was a longtime ADN reporter, mainly writing about culture, arts and Alaska history. He worked in radio for 20 years before switching to print. He retired from the ADN in 2017.