It is Piedmont Arts that should be getting an award for what it does for the area, George W. Lester II said when he accepted the Clyde Hooker Award.

Lester and the Martinsville Speedway were honored Thursday evening at Piedmont Arts as the recipients of the museum’s 2019 Clyde Hooker Awards, which were established in 2003 to recognize people and companies in the area who have made significant contributions to the arts.

J. Clyde Hooker Jr., who died in 2010, was president, chairman and chief executive officer of Hooker Furniture Corp. and a known supporter of the arts in Martinsville and Henry County.

“Mr. Lester is a big advocate of Piedmont Arts and always encourages newcomers and longtime residents to visit and support the museum,” Piedmont Arts Executive Director Heidi Pinkston said. He “is always the first to purchase season tickets to Piedmont Arts events and performances.”

All the paint Piedmont Arts uses in its galleries comes from Lester Building Supply, she said – and since the color usually is changed for each exhibit, “there is at least an inch-thick layer.” He was the patron of the Jessie Ward’s horseshoe sculpture that adorns the Gravely-Lester Art Garden.

“All the kind things you said about me would not be possible without the Lord,” Lester said when he accepted the award.

“We need to continue to support activities like this and things they have available for us from the concerts … to the lectures. … We have so many thing we really don’t realize how blessed we are,” he said.

The Martinsville Speedway not only is the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit but “also one of the biggest supporters of the arts in our community,” Pinkston said.

Its many contributions include sponsoring educational programs such as “Minds in Motion” and donating new uniforms to the Martinsville High School band, she said. The Speedway also invites the marching band to perform at races.

Clay Campbell, the president of the speedway, starred in and won Piedmont Arts’ first Dancing for the Arts fundraising competition in 2012. “Clay made Dancing for the Arts cool still to this day, and we thank” him for that, Pinkston said.

“To be associated with an award with Mr. Hooker on it is pretty special,” Campbell said.

In regards to Dancing for the Arts, “It was fun but won and done,” he said.

Anna Hatchett, a May graduate of Bassett High School, received the 2019 Nicodemus Hufford Memorial Arts.

Hatchett, an intern with Bassett Furniture, plans to study interior design and photography at High Point University. She is interested in sculpture and photography, and among other potential career fields, is interested in photography for furniture companies.

The scholarship was established at Piedmont Arts in 1987 by Hufford’s family to provide scholarships for graduating high school seniors from schools in Martinsville and Henry County who have auditioned and been accepted into a fine arts program at an accredited college or university. Hufford’s wife, Virginia Gravely Hufford, died in May.

The Harold Knowlton Work Memorial Scholarship went to Breanna Ferguson and Caitlyn Kidd.

Ferguson is a 2016 graduate of Bassett High School. She studies art education and craft material studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and wants to be an art teacher.

Kidd, a 2018 graduate of Magna Vista High School, studies music education at Old Dominion University and aims to get a master’s degree in conducting. She would like to be a high school choral director with a show choir.

In 2006 Julia Ascough Work, Harold Work’s wife, established the fund at Piedmont Arts to provide scholarships for rising college sophomores, juniors and seniors who attended schools in Martinsville and Henry County and are pursuing a degree in the arts.

Brian Joyce and Meritha Rucker receive the 2019 Arts in Education Awards. Joyce, who has taught for 19 years, is the band director at Martinsville High School. He has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Radford University.

Rucker, in her eighth year of teaching, is an art teacher at Laurel Park Middle School and is involved with MHC-After 3. She also is well known locally for portraits made with dryer lint. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from Hollins University.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly the year for which these award winners were honored.

Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.