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Burlington City Arts

Herb Lockwood Prize

The Herb Lockwood Prize was created to reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in the state of Vermont. The Prize recognizes artists who produce significant work in the areas of visual arts, music, writing, drama, dance, film, and fine woodworking―while also having a beneficent influence on the community. An anonymous committee selects one recipient each year―there is no application process. Herb Lockwood was an inspirational figure in the Burlington arts and music scene in the 1980's. Learn more: HerbLockwoodPrize.org

2017 Winner: Howard Frank Mosher 

Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont literary institution. A resident of the state for 53 years, he has published eleven novels set in Vermont (four of them made into films by director Jay Craven), and two memoirs.

His titles are iconic and instantly recognizable: A Stranger in the Kingdom, Where the Rivers Flow North, Disappearances, Waiting for Teddy Williams.

His subject is always Vermont, but not in a postcard way. Rather, he brings rough and tumble hill folk to life, exposes racism and narrow mindedness, and finds generosity and humor in the most modest of places. He is the bard of the Northeast Kingdom, although in his books it is called Kingdom County.

After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (and underwent 46 radiation treatments), Mosher embarked on a literary tour of America, covering 20,000 miles in his aging Chevy Celebrity as he visited the 100 best independent bookstores in the country. His book on that trip, The Great Northern Express, was hailed as hilarious and poignant, half memoir and half an American road book classic.

His craft and character have been widely recognized, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the New England Independent Booksellers Association President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Mosher’s works are landmarks, but his personal style is modesty personified. At one writers' conference, in which the instructors were given 150 words to deliver their biography, his entire bio read: “Howard Frank Mosher is a writer in Vermont.”

On his blog, Mosher uses his words to praise books by other Vermont writers worthy of greater recognition, to celebrate small bookstores, and to support small publishers—always the ones based in Vermont. He has helped many a Vermont writer with words of encouragement, even those yet to be published.

Howard Frank Mosher is a Vermont treasure in the fullest sense of the word.

2016 Winner: Nora Jacobson 

Filmmaker Nora Jacobson was born in Norwich, Vermont and spent eight years of her childhood in Paris. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an MFA from the school of the Chicago Art Institute. She is one of Vermont’s most prolific and gifted filmmakers.

Her films include Delivered Vacant (an eight year project about gentrification in Hoboken, NJ which the NY Times called “an urban epic”), My Mother’s Early Lovers, Nothing Like Dreaming, Tremors in the System, Sun and Moon Were Children and Lived on the Earth, and Habits and Choices: Living with HIV.

Nora’s works have won wide acclaim, including the Golden Gate Award, the Best Independent Film Award at the Ajijic Festival Internacional de Cine, the Audience Award at the Maine International Film Festival, Best of Fest at the Lake Placid Film Forum, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A former film professor in New York, Nora returned to the Green Mountain State 21 years ago. Since then, she founded Vermont Unity TV, a film contest for young filmmakers. She sits on the Community Council of Vermont PBS, and she founded the White River Film Festival.

Nora’s signature work is the 2014 film series, Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie. This history of Vermont culture was created in a collaboration of more than 50 Vermont filmmakers, with Nora at the helm. The extraordinary 6-part, 9-hour film, was 7 years in the making. Nora’s ambitious vision to tell the story of Vermont on film—from the Abenakis to the slaves to the present day—is a unique experiment in artistic collaboration.

One could say that she has taken documentary filmmaking to a higher level by producing a non-fiction epic that is varied in content and filmic style, while giving the impression of having a master puppeteer. This magnum opus has opened our eyes to aspects of Vermont's history, and perhaps its singularity, in a way that no other medium has done.

Nora’s works in progress include a biography of the Vermont poet Ruth Stone, The Hanji Box about art and adoption in Korea, and an untitled film about pond hockey and the communities that arise around it. 

2015 Winner: Claire Van Vliet


​Photo by Todd R. Lockwood

Since 1966, fine artist and typographer Claire Van Vliet has been creating fine art prints and handmade books in Newark, Vermont. From her modest studio in the Northeast Kingdom, she has impacted the art of bookmaking and printmaking around the world.

Claire’s art has influenced and inspired several generations of artists and fine bookmakers — many who have gone on to important careers of their own. Her works are featured in museums, libraries and personal collections throughout the country and have been quietly celebrated by the Vermont arts community for decades.

Claire is a recognized pioneer in the art of book construction, using weaving and folding to bind pages without the use of adhesives. To hold one of Claire’s books in your hands is a journey into a rarified world — a world of color, texture, design and language. But her creations are not just art for art’s sake. Claire often uses her work to speak out about human failings and social justice.

Claire has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Arts in Philadelphia. In 1955, Claire founded Janus Press, which has fostered unique collaborations between writers, papermakers, printmakers and artists. Janus Press has published over ninety books since its inception.

Even with such prodigious output, Claire still finds time to open her studio to local schools, and for many young artists it has been their first glimpse into the magical world of printing and bookmaking.

To her peers, Claire Van Vliet is an icon. Her skill and dedication to her medium and her willingness to share her gifts with others is a rare and special combination.

See examples of Claire’s work here.

2014 Winner: Steve Small

Photo by Peter Lourie — provided courtesy of Middlebury Actors Workshop

Steve Small is an actor and director of the Addison Repertory Theater Company in Middlebury, Vermont. He is one of the most skilled actors in the state. His voice, attention to detail, emotional courage, and willingness to go wherever the demands of a character lead, make him spellbinding on stage.

In the past three years Steve has played Bobby Gould in Speed the Plow, Roy in Lone Star, Lennie in Of Mice and Men, and Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. What remains common in each role is craft, energy, and a complete commitment to the personality he is creating on stage. These are familiar and iconic roles, as difficult to interpret with originality as anyone playing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz or McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Yet Steve's performances are fresh and unique.

As a veteran actor, Steve is hilarious and shows deft comic timing. As the addled Lennie, who accidentally kills a woman he only wanted to touch for a second, he uses silence to powerful effect — and is heartbreaking.

But Steve's greatest contribution is what he has done for kids. Addison Repertory Theater serves several purposes. First, it works with kids from local high schools to teach them about the theater. Kids write plays. They act. They dance. They learn technical skills, from set design to lighting to stage management to box office control. Many of these kids are already interested in theater, and have been looking for a way to express their interest beyond the typical school play. ART gives them real-life tasks that require competence, with other people depending on them, and with an audience that must be served. To a typical insecure adolescent, a standing ovation is much more than applause. It is a life-changing validation.

Congratulations to Steve Small for setting such a high standard for himself and those around him. This exemplifies Vermont creativity at its best.