A hearty mazel tov this morning to Alan Govenar -- president and founder of Documentary Arts on Columbia Ave. in East Dallas; author of some two dozen books, among them the history of Deep Ellum; renowned playwright and filmmaker whose collected works were just shown at South by Southwest in Austin last month. To that list, add one more accomplishment: Govenar is the recipient of a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. You will find this significant news on Page A5 of this morning's New York Times, where Govenar is listed in a full-page ad among the 180 winners of grants doled out this year -- and where he's one of three in the Folklore and Popular Culture category, along with American Studies prof Bernard Herman of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Carol Silverman, a professor of folklore and cultural anthropology at the University of Oregon.
The awards, per the foundation, average around $43,200, and the money's there "to help provide Fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible." Probably too early to call Govenar and see how he intends to spend his dough. No doubt he's got a dozen projects in mid-stream in need of funding.
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy: I've profiled Govenar myriad times, probably for the first time at any length in 1996, when he spoke of how the tragic death of Dallas bluesman Alex Moore "haunted" every work that followed. This is what I wrote about him in '98: "Govenar is this city's very best friend: No one, not even SMU professor and author Darwin Payne, has done more to preserve Dallas' cultural heritage and rescue it from the trash bin of history. He has the photographs, the recordings, and the videotaped interviews to prove it, and he would be only happy to show them to you. That is, after all, what he does." And now he's got the Guggenheim to prove it.
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So too does Nic Nicosia, the Dallas-born, UNT-educated recipient of a photography grant. Which sure beats the hell out of an Observer best-of.