The UNLV College of Fine Arts presents the 11th Annual Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame honoring acclaimed artist Tim Bavington; celebrated vocalist and musician Sue Kim; and legendary jazz vocalist Joe Williams (posthumously). Also being recognized are June Brennan, who receives the College of Fine Arts Dean’s Medal for continually demonstrating commitment to education and extraordinary contributions to the College of Fine Arts, and musician Ronnie Vannucci, College of Fine Arts Alumnus of the Year.
The evening begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, in the UNLV Student Union Ballroom. Tickets for the event are $75 and include cocktails, dinner, ceremony, and performances. All proceeds benefit the UNLV College of Fine Arts.
Recipients receive the Sidney Award, named for the Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame’s first inductee, George Sidney, who epitomized the term artist-educator. Sidney, a three-time Academy Award-winning director and producer, worked with such legends as Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Howard Keel, Ann-Margret, and Lana Turner. Sidney was a frequent guest lecturer in UNLV film classes, providing students with priceless insights into the industry.
London-born, Las Vegas-based artist Bavington received his BFA from the Art Center before making the permanent move to Las Vegas, where he completed his MFA at the UNLV. Music is the genesis of Bavington’s paintings. He is best known for translating music to canvas by assigning sounds to corresponding colors and compositions.
His paintings are reminiscent of Op Art from the 1960s, yet possess the synthetic, digital glow of modern times. In his paintings, Bavington aligns the 12 notes of a musical scale with 12 tones of color from the color wheel. Using synthetic polymer paint, he translates audio — such as guitar music from The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Oasis — into vertical stripes of color that directly correspond to each note. Although his process adheres to a regimen, his paintings remain improvisational and rely on the decisions of his artistic presence.
In addition to paintings, Bavington has explored large-scale sculptures, including an installation of musical energy translated to vertical bands of colored steel for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Kim was a member of the popular singing group The Kim Sisters, a South Korean female trio that made its career in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. The group included Sue (Sook-ja), Aija (Ai-ja) and Min (Minja) Kim.
Sue was born in Seoul, South Korea and started singing with her sisters at the age of 10. She played 13 different instruments, sang, and danced.
The sisters arrived in Las Vegas in 1959 and appeared in the China Doll Revue at the Thunderbird Hotel. After fulfilling their contract at the Thunderbird, the entertainment director for the Stardust Hotel picked up their option, which started Kim's journey of “four weeks with a four-week option.”
In 1959, while Ed Sullivan was broadcasting live from the Stardust Hotel, he asked The Kim Sisters to appear on the show and they were such a big hit that he invited their mother and the Kim brothers to sing on his show in New York. Afterwards, he offered them an exclusive 22-show contract on his #1 rated show of the time.
The Kim family made their home in Las Vegas where they were accepted by the Las Vegas audiences and the local media. This led them to a 15-year engagement at the Stardust hotel, followed by 5 years at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and then 15 years at the Holiday Casino, where Kim and her brothers were the starring act.
Singing a mixture of blues, ballads, popular songs, and jazz standards, Williams was an elegant and sophisticated baritone who is counted among the masters of jazz and blues singing; he has, in fact, earned the title “Emperor of the Blues.” His singing style, which he developed over a long and consistently successful career, contributed to the success of the Count Basie Orchestra and influenced the style of many younger singers.
Williams worked with Coleman Hawkins and Lionel Hampton before joining Count Basie's band in 1954. The success of “Every Day I Have the Blues” established Williams, and after leaving the Basie band in 1961, he led small ensembles singing popular songs, ballads, and blues. He was a frequent performer on television, both as a singer and as an actor. His album Nothin' but the Blues won a Grammy Award in 1984.
Williams died on March 29, 1999.
Brennan has been a stalwart supporter of the arts at UNLV for many years. She endowed a scholarship for students in theatre to honor her late husband James Brennan; she serves on the College of Fine Arts Advisory Board, a position she has held for many years; and she supports the college's excursions to Australia, where UNLV students in jazz, percussion, theatre, dance, film, architecture, and art travel to perform at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. A true "cheerleader" for the Arts, she once traveled to Australia with the students to provide moral and financial support.
Brennan regularly attends opening nights and receptions presented by all units of the college. She takes special joy in UNLV and is constantly espousing its virtues and stating how proud she is of "Our University!" She provides generously of her time, resources, and excellent advice to assist the college as it moves forward. Preferring to be behind the scenes, her wisdom and vision have assisted the College of Fine Arts in reaching its vision.
Vannucci was born in Las Vegas and began drumming at an early age. He was a part of his junior high school jazz ensemble and later attended both Clark and Western High Schools. After forming various locally popular bands, he decided to study percussion at UNLV.
During college, Vannucci worked as a photographer at Chapel of the Flowers, a wedding chapel on the Las Vegas Strip, and at the same time was playing with the ska band Attaboy Skip. In August 2002, he joined Dave Keuning and Brandon Flowers, who had recently begun performing as The Killers. They practiced in Vannucci’s garage at first and then in the UNLV band room after hours in 2002 and 2003.
Vannucci completed most of his music studies at UNLV prior to 2003 in the area of Music Education with aspirations of teaching elementary school music in Las Vegas. In 2003, The Killers were signed by a major record label and quickly ascended to superstardom in the rock and popular music world.
Since 2003, Vannucci has toured the world many times over, released several platinum selling records in more than 50 countries, appeared in TV shows and movies, been on the front cover of magazines, and has become one of the innovative icons of the drumming world. During this time, Vannucci maintained his connection and collaboration with UNLV, and later finalized his B.A. at UNLV on May 14, 2011, while The Killers were on hiatus.
Hall of Fame Tickets
To purchase tickets online, visit the UNLV Foundation RSVP page. To purchase over the phone or for information on how to sponsor a table, contact Lori Slinn at 895-2455.