Genius-innovator. Kelly O

Stranger Genius in performance, Valerie Curtis-Newton, and successful sculptor who installs a lot of really whimsical public art, Sheila Klein, scooped up $25,000 of that no-strings-attached Chihuly money by winning the 2017 Artist Innovator award, which means they can keep enriching the great state of Washington with the goodness and wonder of their artistic endeavors.

According to press materials, Curtis-Newton, who is the head of performance at the University of Washington as well as the founder/director of The Hansberry Project, will use the money to assist "a career transition." Instead of directing, she wants to write: "As a generative artist, her current interest is in African American artists in immersive work—an arena through which their stories are rarely told." Immersive theater written by Valerie Curtis-Newton? Sign me up!

Klein says the cash will allow her to "develop work outside of civic, commercial, or institutional constraints.” Former Stranger art critic Emily Hall describes her work favorably, writing: "The work is so friendly that you might miss its smartness, its overall aesthetic—or it could be that it's all part of the mix." Gotta say, I do like these giant stretchy pants.

Congratulations to the winners!