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Arts |  April 2017

The Legends Award was created in 2009 by the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis to honor women who are trend setters, visionaries, and innovators. Nominated by their peers, a select group of women are honored each year through original art and prose. The Legends Award Art tours the Mid-South before going on permanent display at The Hall of Legends in the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women.


The Legends Award Honorees are paired with a writer and an artist that work with them over several weeks to capture the essence of their life’s work and impact on the community. Artists that work with various mediums are selected to capture the spirit of Honorees.  


“Being honored as a Legend by the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis is the greatest honor of my career. Not only was the public acclamation overwhelming, but also and especially the deep attention paid to me was truly humbling,” Linn Sitler, Memphis and Shelby County Film Commissioner and 2016 Legends Catalyst Honoree said. 


Sitler’s piece, “Captivating,” is a 60’’ x 48’’ acrylic and gold-leaf painting by artist Yancy Villa-Calvo. Villa-Calvo prefers to use acrylic paint and gold-leaf in her paintings and print making. She has been an independent artist for five years. As she created Sitler’s piece, Villa-Calvo interviewed people that knew Sitler, read about her, and met with her to shape a concept. 


“I gathered images from the different movies she helped get to Memphis and got pictures from her friends and colleagues. I also wanted to capture her message to young women, which is to be willing to sacrifice. That gave me another inspiration to this painting. The whole film roll is distressed to represent how hard it is to be successful. Red is passion. Her colleagues described her as very humble, so I used blue as well,” Villa-Calvo said.” I used the gold leaf to depict the value that she has brought to Memphis economically and the value of herself. Gold doesn’t lose its value over time.” 


The 2017 Legend Award Honorees are Pat Morgan, Barbara Holden-Nixon, and Edith Kelly Green. 

Pat Morgan, a former banker, real estate broker, and elected official, will receive the Catalyst Award. Morgan has spent three decades working to break the cycle of homelessness locally, statewide, and nationally. She has received local and national recognition including awards from the City of Memphis and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Her Legends Award Artist is Suzy Hendrix. Her writer is Jae Henderson. 


Barbara Holden Nixon, LCSW, will receive the Innovation Award. In 1991, she founded the Prevention Wrap-Around Services Program for the Memphis and Shelby County Children’s Community Services Agency, where she then served as Executive Director until 2001. Her Legends Award Artist is Leandra Urrutia. Her writer is Summer Owens.


Edith Kelly Green, founder of The KGR Group, will receive the Philanthropy and Leadership Award. Raised by her grandmother, Christine Mitchell Hickonbottom, who worked as a maid on the campus of the University of Mississippi, Green eventually graduated from the college and started an endowment scholarship in her grandmother’s name along with three other scholarships named after family members. Edith is a founding board member of WFGM and the Philanthropic Black Women of Memphis (PBWM). Her Legends Award Artist is Tobacco Brown.  Her writer is Anna Mullins. 


Art and stories will be unveiled at the 2017 Legends Award Reception Thursday, April 13, 2017 from 6 – 8 p.m. at The Columns at One Commerce Square, 40 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103. The presenting sponsor is Baptist Memorial Health Care.  For those that can’t make the reception, the art will also be on display at the 2017 Annual Tribute Luncheon on Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103. Tickets to both events can be purchased at


Proceeds from the 2017 Annual Tribute Luncheon and Legends Award Reception benefit the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan to reduce poverty by five percent in the 38126 zip code by the year 2020. The five-year plan focuses on case management, employment training, early childhood education, youth development, and financial literacy. 

Honor and Art 

The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis’ Annual
Legends Award uses art to say ‘Thank You’


Story by Erica Horton 



Helen “Honey” Scheidt, Legends Award Honoree “Lend a Hand” – Yvonne Bobo, Artist 52’’ x 24’’ x 12’’ viewer activated mechanical bird made from collection of custom found objects transmission, bicycle, stainless steel, brass, wild steel

Dr. Rosie Phillips Bingham, Legends Award Honoree “Speak and Speak Often – Melissa Dunn, Artist 48” x 48” Acrylic on Canvas

Linn Sitler, Legends Award Honoree “Captivating” – Yancy Villa-Calvo, Artist 60’’ x 48’’ acrylic paint and gold leaf

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