Muses awards to be presented Thursday
In recognition of these meaningful contributions to the arts, the city of Yuma Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission will present the 2012 Tribute of the Muses Ceremony on Thursday.
The event will take place at the Historic Yuma Theatre.
There are two award categories: the Muse and Helios Award.
The Tribute of the Muse award is presented to a person or group that reflects acknowledged excellence in a chosen arts field, years of service in the local arts community, leadership, arts advocacy, encouragement of others to become involved in the arts or philanthropy.
Nominees may be full or part-time artists, art teachers, leaders, supporters or volunteers in the arts community. They should have a recognized track record as a champion of the arts during their lifetimes through creative contribution, gifts of time and support. Past years' winners have been chosen from a broad spectrum of the arts, including dance, music, art education and the visual arts.
The Helios award recognizes growth, talent or potential in an artistic medium, honoring a young person who may one day be the next outstanding artist, arts advocate, arts community leader or philanthropist — ideally, someone making an impact in local our local arts community.
2012 Muse Award nominees:
• Bill Blomquist, fine arts professor at Arizona Western College
Blomquist has taught drawing, painting, printmaking and art history for 10 years. He involves students in class discussion and research projects, has a creative world view and offers expertise in artistic technique.
Blomquist participates on the planning committee for the Yuma Art Symposium and participates in local arts events such as ARTbeat, the North End Art Walk and student art sales on campus. He co-leads AWC's Student Art League on yearly field trips to art centers such as the Getty Museum and L.A. County Museum of Art. He taught workshops on printmaking to Yuma Art Educators and is a source of inspiration to his students.
He also donates prints for sale to the annual Yuma Area Arts Educators Association charity auction raising money for art student scholarships.
• Ester Ann Bombard, visual artist
There isn't an art form that Bombard has not explored, experienced, examined, embraced or envisioned. Her interests, over the course of her long life, have lead to the familiar drawing and painting media, but also to murals, jewelry, pottery, printmaking and floral arrangements. Other media beckoned, like leatherwork, fabrics, bookmaking and costumes. This versatile artist channeled her extensive knowledge of art to teaching — bringing art education to children and young adults. She worked on many community arts projects, most prominently the Smucker Park walkways.
• Desert Artists Group, visual art organization
Formed in 1963, Desert Artists is one of our community's oldest continuing artist organizations. Today, Desert Artists holds true to its mission “... to inspire interest in the visual arts by providing camaraderie and encouragement for beginning artists...”
One of the Desert Artists' earliest efforts was to organize the fine arts exhibit at the Yuma County Fair. What started as a group of local artists in a tent out at the fairgrounds has grown into one of the most visited exhibits during fair week and one of the few places young artists from middle and high school display their work together with seasoned professionals.
They donate money and art supplies to many schools in our community, encouraging future artists. In 2008, the group formed Village Art Gallery, now in Historic Downtown Yuma, as an exhibit and sales venue for the group's outstanding art. From a tent on the fairgrounds to a gallery on Main Street, for 49 years Desert Artists have inspired generations of artists.
• Albert Escalante, visual artist and art teacher
A local high school instructor and master in ceramics, Escalante is fast becoming an arts celebrity in Yuma, from his eclectic and whimsical clay art pieces, to teaching, to his work with disadvantaged youth.
As a teacher at San Luis High School, he is instrumental in providing a strong artistic foundation, career skills and character development to his students. For the last three summers, Escalante has worked with Yuma Private Industry Council, or YPIC, and the Yuma Art Center on the design, creation and fabrication of prominently placed murals in Yuma — leading groups of students enrolled in this YPIC summer work program. These murals can be seen at the Yuma Civic Center, Marcus Pool and most recently at the Yuma Community and Readiness Center.
• John Gaboury, radio broadcaster and storyteller
With over 40 years on the radio in Yuma, Gaboury has shared his record collection and his perspective of Yuma history in his weekly Sunday KAWC radio show, “Gaboury's Private Stock.” Gaboury spins records from when first they were made to the '50s, '60s and '70s, plays old commercials and tells stories from his childhood.
His engaging and folksy style gives us time to pause and ponder as people listen to his program. Gaboury's monologues are full of history and stories on a past well-spent. He paints a picture of musical history, his voice is his brush and gives color and meaning to our collective past.
• Deanie Anderson Holbrook, visual artist and arts supporter
Holbrook may have arrived late to the art scene as she began painting at the age of 50, but she has been a force ever since.
Over the years, Holbrook owned and operated several art galleries in Yuma, assisting and promoting scores of local visual artists in all mediums. Busy with openings and exhibits and running a business, she still found time to mentor young people interested in art, and continues to do so today. When the city went calling for members for the new Public Art Committee, one of the first to step up was Holbrook — where she worked with other like-minded folks on a number of highly visible local public art projects.
She has been an active member of Desert Artists for many years.
• Judy Gresser, arts advocate
Gresser attends, supports and gives to local arts organizations, encouraging others to be advocates in support of the arts and social giving. In the recent past, Gresser has worked solidly to support and nurture local stringed instrument education.
As executive director of the Yuma Community Foundation and western region manager of the Arizona Community Foundation, she is always working to communicate opportunity to nonprofit groups, furthering their reach into our community.
Gresser was instrumental in creating the Yuma Arts Fund, established the San Luis Community Fund and collaborated on the creation of the Yuma Area Non Profit Institute.
• Michelle Parker-Oliverio, dance instructor
Parker-Oliverio has more than 20 years experience in owning and operating a dance studio.
Today, she continues to teach dance to people ages 3 to 93 at Dawn Atherton's Dance Studio. She is the assistant director of Jazz of Yuma. She regularly takes students to regional and statewide dance conventions and competitions. She and her young dancers have won numerous awards, trophies, competitions and scholarships.
• Robert Craig Rammelt, director, technical director, teacher
Rammelt has been an integral part of the local theater community for the last decade.
In his day job as Fine Arts Department chair at Gila Ridge High School, Rammelt has mentored hundreds of students and young teachers alike. He assisted with the design of the Gila Ridge Performing Arts Center there.
Back in the community, Rammelt volunteers his time, most notably with Yuma Community Theater as board member, as a director and in support of productions, many productions. He has volunteered his time with other theater arts groups as well, such as Desert Pointe Productions and 5 Point Theatre.
• Rebecca Taylor, visual artist and arts teacher
Taylor is actively engaged in the community by teaching the arts to young people and as an accomplished artist. As an artist and designer, she has worked on projects as diverse as designing posters for balloon festivals to designing costumes and sets for plays. Taylor produces art across a number of differing media, from painting to ceramics.
In 2006, she was honored with the Teacher of the Year award for all of Yuma area high schools. She has been an influence on a generation of young artists and students through nearly 25 years of teaching. She has worked with local arts groups and organizations for many years. She designed and constructed sets for Yuma Ballet Theatre and is a member of its hall of fame. She participated in the annual Children's Festival of the Arts in Historic Downtown Yuma for many years.
Taylor donates her art to various fundraisers such as the Yuma County Humane Society, Yuma Fine Arts and the Yuma Area Art Educators' annual art auction. She was also an active member of the then city of Yuma's Arts and Culture Commission.
She recently retired from teaching art at Yuma High and continues to do exhibits and sell her art through the North End Artist Cooperative.
• Chris Tortorici, visual artist and arts supporter
Tortorici is an internationally recognized artist, creating commissioned work to patrons throughout the United States and world. He is an enthusiastic part of local Yuma culture as an artist and leader. He serves on the Yuma Public Art Committee and participates in local art activities like ARTbeat and the North End Art Walk.
Tortorici continues to minister to his community as well, serving as a spiritual leader to local youths. He works to build a better life for others, giving back so some young person might have a chance to change their life in a positive way.
• Yuma Fine Arts, 50 years of supporting art in Yuma
Fifty years ago, a group of Yuma artists got together and formed the Yuma Art Club. It was dedicated to supporting, educating, promoting and exhibiting local artists. In 1962 the club became the Yuma Fine Arts Association.
Today, Yuma Fine Arts continues on in this tradition of dedication to the arts in Yuma. Through the years, YFA has worked alongside generations of local artists, providing countless opportunities for exhibits and promotion that generate interest and sales of their artwork. Untold numbers of artists have displayed their work at the various Yuma Fine Arts venues over the years, including exhibits at the world-class city of Yuma Art Center.
2012 Helios Award nominees:
• Chelsea Alameda, directing and technical theater
Alameda is dedicated to educating youths and introducing them to the world of theater and has a passion for volunteering. Since arriving in Yuma, she has volunteered her time as a director of Desert Pointe Production's Summer Teen Workshops and assistant director of “Christmas Carol.”
She has also worked as assistant director for Gila Ridge High School's production of “Little Shop of Horrors” and as stage manager for Yuma Community Theater's production of “Noises Off.” She is currently the director of “Once Upon a Mattress” as Gila Ridge High School's acting drama instructor.
• Kellie Canada, performer
For Canada, the arts have been a part of her life since childhood. At Yuma High, under the direction of Nikki Olsen, Canada developed a love of the theater, particularly technical theater. She was continually involved in theater and shows through acting, writing and working behind the scenes.
She took an active role in the backstage crew setting up shows for the high school as well as the dance companies and all the touring groups that utilized the Yuma High auditorium. After high school, Canada continued to be involved in the arts, especially belly dancing. She is an active member of the local belly dance troupe Banat Tabla and has performed many times from festivals to dance shows. She is passionate about being involved in the arts through dance and visual art. She now works for Yuma Fine Arts, coordinating with the many artists currently showing in the gift shop. Canada is part of the exhibit-hanging team for Yuma Fine Arts.
• Anne Foley, directing
Foley began working at the Yuma Art Center's Historic Yuma Theatre at age 15 in concessions. A year later in 2005, she helped create a new theater program there, “Movin to the Movies.”
Since then, she has become the face of the Yuma Art Center's Infinite Imagination Youth Theatre group, helping direct and inspire hundreds of young people in such memorable shows like “Peter Pan,” “Seussical, Jr.,” Princess Ariel,” The Pride of Simba,” “High School Musical,” the outstanding production of “Fame, Jr.” and many others. She recently became a certified teacher and is now teaching in the district and yet continues to serve her community through the great work she does leading these productions.
• Briana Schmidt, artist and advocate
Schmidt for the past five years she has sung and danced throughout the community and has served at local nursing homes and homeless shelters.
Schmidt today is Miss Yuma County. Her platform is preventing domestic violence and assault. Schmidt is also an advocate for the arts. She has been able to use her platform to put forth the message that the arts are fundamentally important in each person's life. Whether it is performance art such as singing and dancing, or the visual arts, such as sculpting, pottery or painting, each medium has a healing affect on those who have found themselves victims of violence.
• Brandon Stroup, choir director
Cibola High School choir instructor Stroup, for the past two years, has prepared the Yuma Ecumenical Choir for performances of the Christmas portion of Handel's “Messiah.” He has increased student participation in his choirs at Cibola by 300 percent because they want to be a part of this award-winning and quality but demanding program.
Source: City of Yuma Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission