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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Francis Whitaker at his forge, February 1994
Francis Whitaker, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Carbondale, Colorado, February 1994 Photo: Ronna Lee Sharpe

A Tribute to National Heritage Award Recipient Francis Whitaker

Francis Whitaker received the nation's highest honor for traditional artists, the National Heritage Fellowship, for his achievements as a blacksmith from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1997. He received the Colorado Council on the Arts Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1995. Through the CCA Folk Arts Program he was awarded several Master/Apprentice and Heritage Award grants to pass on his skills and knowledge to the next generation of blacksmiths. His ornamental ironwork adorns public buildings and private homes from New York City to California, including many Victorian structures in Aspen. He published several books, established a foundation for aspiring blacksmiths, and organized numerous workshops. He died October 23, 1999, at age 92, with a hammer in his hand.

The project is documented with 17 pages of text; 16 slides with accompanying descriptions; a program from the 1995 Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts; a booklet on the National Heritage Fellowships, 1997; and several of Whitaker's books: The Blacksmith's Cookbook; Beautiful Iron; and My Life as an Artist Blacksmith. 

Originally submitted by: Scott McInnis, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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