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VIDEO | Tom Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins recognized at MOWA’s 2024 Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Awards

West Bend, Wi – The Museum of Wisconsin Art recognized the former director of the West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts (later known as the Museum of Wisconsin Art) during its recent 2024 Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Awards.
Tom Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins, spent five years researching and writing a comprehensive book about Wisconsin’s Art History. The book titled A Creative Place: The History of Wisconsin Art is 431 pages and according to MOWA’s Graeme Reid the book “has set precedent and will stand the test of time.”

This year we really want to recognize this phenomenal achievement, “A Creative Place the History of Wisconsin Art.”


“We’re recognizing Tom Lidtke and Annemarie Sawkins for their exceptional work on this the first presentation of art in our state. A beautifully illustrated volume which will be an invaluable service to artists, art historians, and curators for decades to come.”

Tom Lidtke began his career teaching K-12 studio art classes in Wisconsin and South Australia. Lidtke attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, receiving his undergraduate in Art History. In 1982, he was hired as an Assistant Director at the West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts (later known as the Museum of Wisconsin Art).
Shortly thereafter he became the museum’s director and held that position for three decades, retiring upon the completion of MOWA’s new building in 2013. A practicing artist, Lidtke’s bronze sculptures and earthworks are in several private, corporate, and museum collections, including the Milwaukee Art Museum.
After retirement, Lidtke was commissioned by the Cedarburg Art Museum to undertake an ambitious five-year project to produce a comprehensive book of Wisconsin’s art history.
Co-authored by Annemarie Sawkins, A Creative Place: The History of Wisconsin Art was published in 2021 and is considered the most important single publication on the history of Wisconsin Art.

West Bend, WIMuseum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) announces the recipients of the 2024 Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award (WVAAA). Recognizing significant contributions to the visual arts of the state, the Achievement Awards are presented biennially to individuals and organizations.
The 2024 Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Awards are awarded biennially to honor individuals and organizations that are enriching the visual arts of the state.

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The three founding organizations—the Museum of Wisconsin Art, the Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters—collaborate biennially to recognize exceptional educators, writers, visual artists, exhibitions, and advocates in our creative communities. A 10-person nominations committee convenes to review open nominations and select the recipients in seven categories.
2024 Award Categories and the Honorees:
Legacy Awards
Carol Emmons and Tory Folliard
Educator Award (K–12)
Daniel Klewer
Educator Awards (College/University)
Kristy Deetz
Exhibition Awards
Portrait Society Gallery for Art Against the Odds: Wisconsin Prison Art (2023), co-curated by PSG Director Debra Brehmer and Gallery Manager, Paul Salsieder in collaboration with Wisconsin’s incarcerated artists.

Museum of Wisconsin Art for Legends of Drag: Portraits by Harry James Hanson and Devin Antheus (2022), curated by Assistant Curator Ally Wilber in collaboration with artists Harry James Hanson, Devin Antheus, and America’s legendary drag queens

Community Arts Advocate Award
David Wells
Emerging Artist Award
Phoenix Brown
The 2024 nominations committee included Pat Frederick, Elizabeth Meissner-Gigstead, Amy Moorefield, Rafael Salas, Fred Stonehouse, Christine Styles, and Della Wells, as well as Jody Clowes, Ally Wilber, and Laurie Winters.
Recipient bios follow. Previous winners include Jack Damer, Freida High Wasikhongo Tesfagiorgis, Frank Juárez, Karin Wolf, Rae Minoka Skenandore (Yehsani>saks), Debra Brehmer, Leslie Vansen, and the John Michael Kohler Art Preserve.
The WVAAA is made possible through the generous support of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, all three chapters of the Wisconsin Visual Artists, and Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Art & Letters.

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