I enjoy the springtime ritual of reading awards announcements , first the Guggenheims in early April, then the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which appeared Thursday.
The awards are announced in New York Times institutional ads that follow the same black-and-white, multicolumn format, listing the names of the honorees and their respective disciplines. No photos or other artwork. It's a pleasure to do Google research on unfamiliar names.
The Guggenheims cover sciences math, physics and astronomy as well as art, literature, music and drama. The American Academy honors painters, sculptors, musicians, novelists, nonfiction writers and poets. The academy also purchases honorees' art for its permanent collection.
Speaking of the Guggenheims, foundation President Edward Hirsch was one of those who will join the 250-member American Academy. I was surprised that Hirsch, a leading American poet and critic since the 1960s, had not received membership earlier. He joins a varied selection of new members.
The Academy also gives cash awards to notable writers, composers and artists. The recipients include promising young talents and those in midcareer with a solid record of achievement. Established in 1898, the academy is a leader in preserving and fostering American culture, also honoring distinctive foreign writers and artists. The first members included Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, according to the academy's web site. New Yorker humorist, memoirist and food writer Calvin Trillin is the current secretary.
Reading the Guggenheim and American Academy names printed on those austere ads gives me a sense of pride and hope that the highest aspirations of the creative imagination will endure, despite climate change, nuclear weapons and other threats to humanity. Congrats to all.