“I wish my mother was alive to see this,” Milton Glaser told me about receiving the 2009 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama last Thursday (the first time for a graphic designer). He was one of twelve to receive the honor for their outstanding achievements and support of the arts. The medals were presented by the president and Mrs. Michele Obama in an East Room ceremony at the White House.
The National Medal of Arts is a White House initiative managed by the National Endowment for the Arts. Each year, the NEA organizes and oversees the National Medal of Arts nomination process and notifies the artists of their selection to receive a medal, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.
“These individuals and organizations show us how many ways art works every day. They represent the breadth and depth of American architecture, design, film, music, performance, theatre, and visual art, ” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “This lifetime honor recognizes their exceptional contributions, and I join the President and the country in saluting them.”
In addition to Glaser the recipients include Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, Maya Lin, Rita Moreno, Jessye Norman, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Frank Stella, Michael Tilson Thomas, and John Williams. Sadly Dylan could not attend, thus making the inevitable photo op between the poster maker and the poster subject impossible.