Since 1929, ArtsWave has honored individuals who have made distinguished contributions to Cincinnati’s arts scene. This tradition began with an endowed gift from Samuel B. Sachs and is known as the Rosa F. & Samuel B. Sachs Fund Prize. This year, gallerist Carl Solway and Cincinnati Opera’s General Director Emerita Patty Beggs were named as the 2020 Rosa F. & Samuel B. Sachs Fund Prize honorees.
The Sachs Fund Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the region through the arts. It was provided for in the will of the late Samuel B. Sachs to honor outstanding accomplishments in the arts — inclusive of visual arts, music, theatre, dance, literature, sculpture and architecture — and to honor local, regional, national and international artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of the Greater Cincinnati region.
Honorees have come from diverse backgrounds and have made equally diverse impacts on our region. The 2006 Sachs Fund Prize was awarded to British-Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid. Hadid, a major figure in late-20th and early 21st century architecture, was the first woman to design an art museum in the United States: Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center.
James Conlon received the Prize in 2015. Conlon holds the record as the longest serving director in The May Festival’s history. His revival of musical works that were suppressed by the Nazi regime earned him – and our region – international acclaim. 2017’s honoree, Jim Borgman, is a nationally syndicated cartoonist known for his political cartoons and the comic strip “Zits.”
This year’s honorees join the ranks of those laureates thanks to their own significant work. Patty Beggs left a successful corporate career with major banks in 1984 to join Cincinnati Opera as marketing director. In three years, she built audiences at 50% capacity to routinely sell-out crowds. Through her marketing innovations, Cincinnati Opera became a role model for best practices in audience development.
Patty Beggs took over leadership of Cincinnati Opera in 1997. Under her tenure, the organization began an intentional effort to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, which sparked new innovations. Each step forward led the opera to take their work, in Patty's words, "out of the opera house and into the community." That can be seen in programs like Opera Goes to Church!™/Opera Goes to Temple!™ and The Opera Express.
Today, Cincinnati Opera brings national attention to the region for its production of new works focused on social justice. They co-commissioned "Margaret Garner," a tragic story of an enslaved mother, with a libretto by Toni Morrison. The New York Times reviewed their 2016 world premiere of “Fellow Travelers,” a romance between two men set in the McCarthy era. NPR covered 2019’s “Blind Injustice,” which features the true stories of six people who were exonerated thanks to the Ohio Innocence Project.
"I'm so proud of the team of the Cincinnati Opera board and staff that embraced and continues to embrace the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and storytelling that reflects the way we are as a society," Patty notes. At one point, she was one of only five women CEOs out of the 270 professional operas in America. Reflecting on that experience, she names her instrumental role in creating the POWER OF HER initiative as one of her proudest moments. In 2020, Patty Beggs retired from Cincinnati Opera, being named General Director Emerita.
Patty's 36 years of service have left an indelible mark on Greater Cincinnati. On being honored with the Sachs Fund Prize, she says, " I am honored and humbled to be recognized, alongside the extraordinary Carl Solway, with this award."
When Carl Solway established his first gallery nearly 59 years ago, contemporary art from outside the U.S. was rarely seen in the region. Today, the Carl Solway Gallery has a major presence in the international art world.
In the 1970s, the Carl Solway Gallery laid the groundwork for a contemporary art scene in the Cincinnati region. He built collaborative relationships with other like-minded galleries around the world, with a focus on enabling new art to be produced rather than simply trading in existing collections. He worked with Jack Bolton on the Urban Wall Project, which was the first city-wide effort to adorn Cincinnati’s buildings with murals. That tradition lives on today in our region through public art organizations like ArtWorks and StreetSpark.
Carl Solway worked with artists and gave them the resources they needed to create art. One of his notable partnerships was with composer John Cage. At the time, Cage was a composer-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati, and he introduced Solway to notable figures in contemporary art, including architect Buckminster Fuller, a pioneer of geodesic domes like the one found in Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. Cage also introduced Solway to Nam June Paik, the founder of video art. The gallery set up a studio and hired studio assistants, allowing Nam June Paik to create freely. Both Paik and Fuller created and published work through the gallery, bringing international attention to both the gallery and our region.
Carl Solway built the art dealing industry in Greater Cincinnati from the ground up. Many pieces of great art in local museums came to our region through his work with collectors. There are few visual arts organizations in the region that have not benefited from his influence. At his passing at the age of 85 in June of 2020, artists and arts leaders alike reached out to express their appreciation for his many contributions to the arts in the region.
The 2020 Sachs Fund Prize is being awarded to Carl Solway posthumously. ArtsWave looks forward to paying tribute to Patty Beggs as part of the 2021 Cincinnati Opera season.
Generous donors had the foresight to recognize artists’ impacts nearly 100 years ago. That foresight and generosity gives us the ability to continue honoring arts visionaries like Patty Beggs and Carl Solway today. To find out more about how you, too, can leave a legacy gift, visit artswave.org/legacy.