Champions

Sculptor Richard MacDonald (left) and artist and arts organizer Sandra Gray. 

Each January, for 10 Januaries nigh, the Arts Council for Monterey County has begun the new year by looking back and honoring fresh rounds of arts luminaries and workers at their Champions of the Arts gala.

The fish, steak or veggie meal by Executive Chef Jason Giles; the entertainment by Sharp Nine Trio, The Actors, Salinas High School Drumline and Jaqui Hope and the Unknown Subjects; the silent and live auction—all are primed to engage the senses and feed the coffers, but the stars of the evening will be the champions who have kept the county humming with arts activity.

"Each year is quite different because of the Champions and the family, friends and friends they attract to the event," Arts Council Executive Director Paulette Lynch says in an email.

This year the brass flame awards will be handed out by county supervisors Potter, Parker, Armenta and Salinas (the supes oversee the Arts Council, and it is an election year so their speeches should be especially poignant) and are going to the following people and organizations below, with biographical info provided by the Arts Council:

Richard MacDonald - Lifetime Achievement. A British-born sculptor of enormous success, who specializes in capturing dancers and athletes in motion or in extreme poses. He's also had an audience with Prince Charles, for all you fans of the British royals. 

Marv Anderson - Luminary. Dubbed a fine art painter of the backroads of Monterey County, he helped found the Salinas Valley Art Guild, had a gallery in Moss Landing for a number of years, and has donated work to "expand education and opportunities for youth," according to a press release.

Sonia Aramburo - Educator. The principal of Mary Chapa Elementary School in Greenfield, credited with driving up API scores by adding arts programs and arts-integrated learning.

Adela Castillo and Jose Alejandro Moran - Volunteer Leaders. Founders and directors fo Noche Bohemia, which puts on performances by Spanish-language poets, dancers and musicians, free of charge.

Sandra Gray - Professional. A painter and photographer who is the driver behind many local arts happenings, including founder of the Seaside Artists Association's Seaside Artists Tour, exhibit supervisor at the Monterey County Fair, curator of exhibitions at Seaside City Hall's Avery Gallery, and so many other credits that the press release trails off with "and many others."

Hidden Valley Music Seminars - Nonprofit. A performing arts venue and visiting artist residential living space in Carmel Valley, backdropped by a tree-studded range and, often, gloriously painted skies. Longtime director Peter Meckel has led the programming there to lofty heights.

Lee Rosen - Philanthropist. The board president of the Monterey Symphony guides the classical music organization with savvy while extending the potentially life-changing qualities of top-flight music to young people in need of uplift.

Champions of the Arts gala takes place Saturday, Jan. 16, at Portola Plaza Hotel & Spa, Monterey. $125/person. http://arts4mc.org

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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