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Arts council names award winners

TERI VANCE

As a girl, Virginia McCuin would turn the forge for her father as he crafted silver bits and spurs on their ranch outside of Tonopah.

“When the cowboys were able to get a silver concho or bit or spurs, that was a great possession for them,” she recalled. “That inspired me to want to do that.”

In 1975, she tried her own hand at engraving, and by the early ’80s, she had a business license to sell her work.

“I’ve built a good customer base,” she said. “People call me all the time, and some follow me to different shows to see what’s new.”

McCuin, who lives in Silver Springs with her husband, Patrick, was one of five Nevadans to receive the Governor’s Arts Awards, the state’s highest honor in the arts.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m excited about it. It’s a nice thing to win.”

The recipients were announced Monday.

“The Governor’s Arts Awards recognize outstanding and enduring contributions to Nevada thorough artistic achievement, commitment and service to the arts,” said Susan Boskoff, executive director of the Nevada Arts Council.

“Arts Council board members reviewed numerous outstanding nominations and after much thoughtful deliberation, selected five honorees based on their commitment to enhancing Nevada’s present-day quality of life while ensuring a strong cultural legacy for future generations, Boskoff added.

Although McCuin said she has seen a resurgent interest in engraving over the last 10 years, she still considers it a dying art. That’s why she is not hesitant to share her craft with anyone who is interested.

“There’s plenty of business for everybody out there,” she said.

She has been recognized by Who’s Who and the Academy of Western Artists. She has been invited to display her work at the Smithsonian Institute as part of the “Great American Cowboy” show in 2006.

“That’s a real honor,” she said. “It’s kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – or even never in a lifetime.”

Other winners of the Governor’s Arts Award this year are violinist Philip Ruder of Reno; Meg Glaser, artistic director of the Western Folklife Center in Elko; patron John Reynolds Klai II of Las Vegas; and Sylvia Tegano, principal of Knudson Middle School Academy of Creative Arts, Language and Technology in Las Vegas.

Recipients will be honored during a March 25 ceremony at the Charleston Heights Art Center in Las Vegas. The award program was established in 1979.

Reach Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.