May 31, 2016

2016 Fifth Star Awards will Honor Buddy Guy, Victor Skrebneski, Jackie Taylor, Carlos Tortolero and The Second City

Awards honoring four Chicago artists and arts advocates and one iconic cultural institution will be presented September 14 at tribute concert in Millennium Park—free and open to the public

Jamey Lundblad    312.744.2493,

Christine Carrino    312.744.0573,

City of Chicago seeks nominations for “Rising Star” youth award


The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will honor four Chicago artists and arts advocates and one iconic cultural institution at the 3rd annual Fifth Star Awards presented by Allstate Insurance Company on Wednesday, September 14 at 7pm—at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The 2016 honorees are blues legend Buddy Guy; celebrated photographer Victor Skrebneski; actress, educator and theater founder Jackie Taylor; museum founder and educator Carlos Tortolero; and the legendary improv and sketch comedy theater, The Second City.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Fifth Star Awards celebrate Chicago’s creativity and recognize institutions and individuals who have made significant contributions in arts and culture.

The free public event will feature electrifying live performances and moving video tributes. The evening’s program will be announced at a later date. (Last year, celebrity presenters included Rita Moreno and Christopher Wheeldon; First Lady Michelle Obama and Bono offered video tributes—and The Joffrey Ballet, Steppenwolf Theatre and Sweet Honey in the Rock performed.)

“Over the years, there have been many ideas proposed for a fifth star on Chicago’s iconic flag,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of DCASE. “These ideas all share one thing in common: They represent a city always in search of new moments of growth, transformation and enlightenment. And while there are no plans to add a fifth star to our flag, we believe there is beauty and magic in the quest for one.”

Additionally, the City of Chicago is seeking nominations for its “Rising Star” youth award, to be presented at the Fifth Star Awards on September 14. DCASE and Allstate are looking for dynamic 14–19 year olds who are demonstrating potential and passion in the arts. (Last year’s inaugural recipient was Abdullah Quick, a CPS graduate from King College Prep, who excels in photography and graphic design.) Candidates must be residents of the City of Chicago, and available to attend the event. Please send nominations (including name, age and brief bio) to The deadline has been extended to June 30, 2016.

“At Allstate, we believe that good starts young,” said Vicky Dinges, senior vice president of corporate responsibility, Allstate. “The ‘Rising Star’ award represents the tremendous talent among our city’s young people. As a company, we are committed to empowering future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to realize their full potential.”

George “Buddy” Guy is a seven-time Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Clapton once described him as “the best guitar player alive.” Guy was born and raised in Lettsworth, Louisiana—and moved to Chicago in 1957. In the 1960s, Guy played with Muddy Waters as a house guitarist at Chess Records and began a musical partnership with the harmonica player Junior Wells. Guy’s career took off during the blues revival of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was sparked by Clapton's request that Guy be part of the “24 Nights” all-star blues guitar lineup at London’s Royal Albert Hall. For almost 50 years, Guy has performed flamboyant live concerts of energetic blues and blues rock, predating the 1960s blues rockers. As a musician, he had a fundamental impact on the blues and on rock and roll, influencing a new generation of artists. Guy was ranked 23rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. His song “Stone Crazy” was ranked 78th in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. In 2003, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts, awarded by the President of the United States. By 2004, Guy had also earned 37 W.C. Handy Awards, Billboard magazine’s Century Award (he was its second recipient) for distinguished artistic achievement. Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. And in 2012, Guy received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor.

Born in Chicago in 1929, Victor Skrebneski studied painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Lázló Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design in Chicago. There he showed some of his photographs to Harry Callahan, who complemented Skrebneski’s unique cropping and urged him to visit magazine editors in New York City—but frequent assignments from Marshall Field’s led to a flourishing career in Chicago, where he chose to stay and shoot ads. By 1962, Skrebneski had become the exclusive photographer for Estée Lauder and he continued that relationship for 27 years. His long-term relationships with other clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, Town & Country Magazine, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Givenchy. Supermodel Cindy Crawford credits Skrebneski with launching her career. He has also photographed Paulina Porizkova, Willow Bay, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Iman, David Bowie, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Truman Capote and Andy Warhol. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, George Eastman House and Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Frank Zachary, Town & Country’s influential editor-in-chief from 1972-1991, once noted of Skrebneski, “Victor is a Chicago boy who never left home, but became a citizen of the world through the medium of his art. Impeccably composed, immaculately rendered, the Skrebneski photograph is his universal passport.”

Jackie Taylor is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Ensemble Theater Company, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Founded in 1976, the Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions, employed over 5,000 artists and gained a national reputation for outstanding, original productions and a dedication to its mission of eradicating racism. More than 8,000 youth are served each year by the Theater’s educational outreach programs. In 2011, the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened its doors, following a $20 million capital campaign. Taylor was born in Chicago, and raised in the Cabrini Green housing project. She rose from modest roots to become a distinguished actress, singer, director, playwright, educator and theater founder. Taylor has had featured roles in several major films, including “Cooley High,” “Hoodlum,” “To Sir With Love – Part 2,” “The Father Clements Story,” “Barbershop 2” and “Chiraq.” She began producing her own shows as early as 1973. Jackie Taylor has written and produced more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including “The Marvin Gaye Story,” “All In Love Is Fair,” “I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass),” “God Is A Black Man Named Ricky,” “Those Sensational Soulful 60’s,” “The Other Cinderella,” “Somebody Say Amen,” “At Last: A Tribute To Etta James” and “The Jackie Wilson Story.” Taylor is also a respected educator; her “Strengthening the School Through Theater Arts” program serves students, their parents and teachers in inner-city elementary schools through training in the theater arts.

Carlos Tortolero is the Founder and President of the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Chicago—the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. From 1975-1987, Tortolero worked as a teacher, counselor and administrator in the Chicago Public Schools. The Museum opened its doors in 1987, and has since become a national model for its exhibits, performances, arts education programs and advocacy of cultural equity issues. Twenty exhibitions organized by the NMMA have traveled across the country and eight have traveled to Mexico. The Museum has 10,000 works in its permanent collection. Tortolero has won numerous awards for his work including the Ohtli Award, the highest honor given by the Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico to individuals “who have distinguished themselves in the services of the Mexican community outside of Mexico.” Recently, Tortolero was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Columbia College Chicago, and he received the first-ever Tomás Ybarra-Frausto Award, presented at Latino Art Now!, the largest national Latino arts conference in the country. In addition, Tortolero has written articles for national and international publications; has made presentations across the U.S. and internationally; and has taught classes at University of Illinois at Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University. Tortolero earned a B.A. in Secondary Education and History from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.A. in Bilingual Education Supervision from Chicago State University.

The Second City opened its doors on a snowy Chicago night in December of 1959, and has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation—with live shows every night in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. Bernard Sahlins, Howard Alk and Paul Sills, son of teacher Viola Spolin, founded the theater as a place where scenes and story were created improvisationally, using techniques that grew out of the innovative techniques Spolin developed and taught. The Second City chose its self-mocking name from the title of an article about Chicago by A. J. Liebling that appeared in The New Yorker in 1952. Andrew Alexander and his recently deceased partner Len Stuart acquired The Second City in 1987. Andrew Alexander has helmed The Second City for 42 years and has produced television programs in both the United States and Canada including “SCTV,” “Second City Presents” and “Next Comedy Legend.” Since its debut, The Second City has been a launching pad for comedians, actors, directors and others working in show business. Notable alumni include Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Jeff Garlin, Ian Gomez, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Andrea Martin, Jack McBrayer, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Catherine O'Hara, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Martin Short, George Wendt and Fred Willard, among many others.

For 2016 event details and to view tribute videos from past years, visit—and join the conversation on Facebook (Fifth Star Awards and Millennium Park), Twitter @fifthstar_CHI and @Millennium_Park and Instagram @Millennium_Park.

The Fifth Star Awards is made possible through generous private support from Allstate Insurance Company.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.


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