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Kresge Foundation, McGee, DiChiera, Woodson receive inaugural Detroit ACE Honors awards

Detroit, General Foundation News

The Kresge Foundation and three Kresge Eminent Artist award winners have been honored by the city of Detroit for lifetime contributions to the city’s vibrant arts and culture community.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday the 15 inaugural recipients of the Detroit ACE Honors that “salute lifetime achievement and celebrate artists and arts patrons who have contributed 25 years or more of exceptional service to Detroit arts and culture.”

Artist Charles McGee in front of one of his pieces
Charles McGee in front of his piece titled “Regeneration,” 2007. (Photo by Ray Manning)

The awards are modeled after the Kennedy Center Honors, and the honorees will receive a Detroit ACE Medal of Excellence as part of the first Detroit ACE Honors in January.

Three of Kresge’s Eminent Artists awardees – metro Detroit artists selected for excellence in the visual, performing or literary arts – are included in the inaugural class of ACE Honors recipients:

• 2008 Eminent Artist Charles McGee: The late McGee is known for his towering downtown Detroit murals, and his paintings and sculptures have been featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

A photo of the founder of the Michigan Opera Theatre David DiChiera
The founder of the Michigan Opera Theatre David DiChiera.

• 2013 Eminent Artist David DiChiera: The late DiChiera was the founder and artistic director of the Michigan Opera Theatre, former president of Opera America and critically acclaimed composer of Four Sonnets and Cyrano.

• 2021 Eminent Artist Shirley Woodson: An artist celebrated for a six-decade career as painter, arts educator and mentor to Black visual artists with works featured in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

The Kresge Foundation was selected as the ACE Honors first recipient honoring philanthropy that has elevated and sustained Detroit arts and culture.

Shirley Woodson working in her Detroit studio.

The foundation was cited for contributing $6.7 million since 2008 to local artists through Kresge Arts in Detroit and for its support of Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship.

“The Kresge Foundation believes that supporting the arts is indispensable to vibrant, healthy and hopeful communities,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “We are honored to be recognized for uplifting the visionary artists of Detroit and advancing a robust arts and cultural ecosystem in Southeast Michigan.”

The other Detroit Ace Honors recipients include: Elizabeth “Betty” Brooks, Robert Duncanson, LeRoy Foster, Tyree Guyton, Vera Heidelberg, Artis Lane, Charles Nielbck, Dudley Randall, Gretchen Valade, Marilyn Wheaton and Debra White Hunt.