In introducing Carol Brown at the annual Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council meeting yesterday, Max King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, relayed the story of her work on Agnes Katz Plaza. He described the unusual benches, towering water sculpture and the rows of symmetrical Linden trees in the Cultural Trust plaza as “fiercely independent and provocative” when the space was first created – and how it remains that way today, 16 years later.

Agnes Katz Plaza has a “disruptive power, surprises people, unsettles them and takes them out of their routines,” King said. “The artist’s role is to be disruptive, to disturb expectations so we may understand things differently. If the artist’s mission is to be provocative, then the funding and funders should be, too.

“When a reaction to a park or a piece of art is, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that,’ it’s all a funder needs to judge an arts grant a powerful success,” he added.

In presenting the two awards of $15,000 each named in her honor, Carol Brown told the hundreds of GPAC members gathered at the August Wilson Center that artists “are the center of the life of our city.”

She awarded Brett Kashmere the Emerging Artist Award for his work on documentary and video essays and Karla Boos, founder of Quantum Theatre, Established Artist of the Year.

Both artists spoke briefly in accepting their awards. Boos relayed her favorite quote about Quantum Theatre, that it makes “work with the poetry of William Blake and the determination of General Patton.“

Both videos were directed by Emmy Award-winning Emmai Alaquiva and produced by Christina French.