Sincere congratulations to puppetmaker and artist Michael Sommers who was named this week as a 2007 United States Artists Fellow. The $50,000 no-strings-attached gift recognizes 50 artists who’ve achieved “master status.” Sommers and his wife and business partner Sue Haas received news of the fellowship the day they opened their new Open Eye Figure Theatre in South Minneapolis. The theater’s inaugural show was a remounting a Walker commission, Sommers’ A Prelude to Faust, which was performed in the same venue in 1998 when it was Patrick’s Cabaret. (Sommers and Haas also had a visual arts exhibition of their work at the Walker in the early ’90s.)
Sommers is in good company. Walker artists-in-residence Bill T. Jones, Rennie Harris, Joanna Haigood, Ann Hamilton, and Jason Moran were also named. The 2007 fellows will meet for a party at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles this weekend.