UNF instructor receives Ann McDonald Baker Art Ventures Award


Visual artist and University of North Florida (UNF) instructor Jim Draper recently received the Ann McDonald Baker Art Ventures Award from the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.

The award, which includes a $10,000 unrestricted grant, recognizes an artist whose work brings distinction to Northeast Florida, and is named for the late Ann McDonald Baker, whose leadership helped create and nurture such vital cultural gems such as The Community Foundation’s Art Ventures Fund, the Arts Assembly (now the Cultural Council) and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, among others.

The award was presented by Ponte Vedra resident Martha Baker and her sister-in-law, Sally Baker Lee, at a private reception the week of Jan. 29. The award derives from an endowment set up at the Community Foundation by the Baker Family. Martha Baker is chairman of the foundation’s Program & Initiatives Committee and Sally Baker was the family representative on the selection panel for the award that Draper received.

For three decades, Draper has created compelling images that highlight the natural world while presenting more complex issues of human existence. He is a UNF instructor of painting and drawing and curator of UNF Galleries. His best-known works include the recent “Feast of Flowers” exhibition at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the “Ribbon of Life” environmental painting at Baptist Medical Center and his “Healing Palms” series.

Draper has created several public art installations, including the glass enclosure of etched palms at Jacksonville International Airport. His current work includes “Full Immersion,” a serial program that explores ways in which the natural order informs structures and behaviors of the human experience, and “The Ditch,” which he describes as a visual reconciliation of the disturbed landscape.

Draper is primarily known for his depictions of flora and fauna that draw from the state’s varied habitats, especially its waterways. He was recently awarded the Fellow Man and Mother Earth award from the Stetson Kennedy Foundation.

“Without question, Jim Draper has been a major force in the North Florida arts scene and has extended his influence by working collaboratively with the wider cultural, environmental and educational communities,” noted Nina Waters, president of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. “Like this award’s namesake, Ann Baker, Jim Draper has had a far-reaching effect on the causes for which he is most passionate. Our community is substantially richer because of his work.”

The selection process for the Ann McDonald Baker Art Ventures Award includes a knowledgeable, anonymous panel of advisors who put forward a short list of finalists after considering a wide range of deserving artists in all disciplines throughout the year. A selection committee (a member of the Baker family, a trustee of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, a representative from the advisory panel and The Community Foundation president) reviews the finalists and names the winner.