The Board of Directors of the Arts Council of Mendocino County is pleased to announce the 14th Annual Mendocino County Arts Champion Award recipients: The Savings Bank of Mendocino County in the category of Business Champion for the Arts; Debbie Bowles of The Fat Quail Quilt Shop in Laytonville as Individual Champion for the Arts; Elliot Little as Artist; Pavlos Mayakis in the category of Education; and SPACE (the School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education) in the brand-new category of Art Organization Champion for the Arts.
Each year, nominations for Arts Champion Awards are received from the community. The winners are selected by the Arts Council of Mendocino County’s Board of Directors, and formally recognized by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
The 2016 Mendocino County Arts Champion Awards were presented by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday morning, October 18. An official proclamation will be issued in the Supervisors’ Chambers at the County Administration Center, 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah. A public reception to honor the winners was hosted by the Arts Council of Mendocino County in Conference Room B after the supervisors’ meeting.
The Savings Bank of Mendocino County, this year’s Arts Champion in the Business category, has actively supported the arts in many ways, for many years. Beyond its normal banking services, the Savings Bank provides financial support to arts organizations throughout the county as well as to many other worthy local causes and events. On a regular, ongoing basis, the Savings Bank helps to publicize and showcase local artists in a wide range of media, by providing space for ever-changing art exhibits in all of their branches throughout the county. Rotating art exhibits keep bank décor fresh and interesting, educate and inspire the incidentally passing public, and give local artists exposure, experience and encouragement.
This year’s Individual Champion for the Arts is Debbie Bowles, owner of The Fat Quail Quilt Shop in Laytonville. Her nominator said that Debbie has been an “inspiration for at least a million stitches in the north county.” She and her shop have become the focus of creative activities including a local quilting guild, an annual quilt show and sale that raise money for a local scholarship fund, and other services and activities that have been featured in national publications and have helped put Mendocino County on the global quilting map. The shop provides a place for quilters to work, machines for lessons and creations, a related library and bookshop, and an inspiring selection of fabrics. “The shop is an artistic vortex in Laytonville,” says Arts Council board member Loren Madsen.
Elliot Little, winner of the Arts Champion award in the Artist category, is a photographer who has cultivated not only his own technical and artistic skill but those of other local artists, helping them to develop and show their work. “He goes out of his way to help artists,” according to one nominator. Elliot plays a key role in the annual Student Photography Show, which featured 500 photographs this year by students at four county high schools. A Ukiah resident of over forty years, Elliot’s work has been shown at galleries in Ukiah, Mendocino and Willits, and has been featured in two regional publications. In previous decades, Elliot was seen on the Ukiah Players Theatre stage—in one production riding a unicycle while simultaneously juggling, singing and acting. “Elliot Little’s talent, organizational skills and dedication to the arts of the entire county make him a star,” said one nominator.
Pavlos Mayakis, 2016 Arts Champion in the Education category, is a part-time instructor at Mendocino College in Fort Bragg, coordinator of the Fiber Arts programs at the Mendocino Art Center, and a board member of Pacific Textile Arts. Besides selling his own art, Pavlos teaches classes in surface design at the college, and in special textile techniques at the Art Center. He is continually promoting education in art, textiles, and mixed media, led a committee to select a new logo for Pacific Textile Arts, continues to take classes himself, and brings renowned artists as guest teachers in his classes. Best of all, he thoroughly enjoys his many artistic endeavors and extends his enthusiasm to others. Pavlos is also the first recipient of the Socially Engaged Practices Grant awarded by the Surface Design Association for his Sustainable Napkin Project which advocates for the carrying and use of cloth napkins in the hopes of reducing the 1 billion tons of paper napkins that currently end up in our land fills.
This year’s Arts Champion in the category of Art Organization is SPACE (School of Performing Arts and Cultural Education), which has been a dynamic generator of creative, original children’s dance, music and theater programs since it was founded by Paulette Arnold and Laurel Near in 1995. Says their nominator, “These two powerful young women started SPACE years ago, and have helped so many kids along the way. They’ve done a remarkable job, and stayed strong and fast, all these years.” SPACE is currently in the final phase of rehabilitating the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church into a state-of-the-art venue available to the community. SPACE also provides scholarships and other assistance to low-income and at-risk youth. It provides quality instruction and original performance pieces, incubating future generations of young performance artists.
The Mendocino County Art Champion Awards are annually celebrated in October to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month, a coast-to-coast celebration of culture in America. To learn more about National Arts and Humanities Month, visit the Americans for the Arts website at www.americansforthearts.org or the California Arts Council website at www.cac.ca.gov.
For more information call 707-463-2727.