The Board of Directors of the Arts Council of Mendocino County is pleased to announce the 11th Annual Mendocino County Art Champion Award recipients: Bryan Arnold in the category of Artist; Jill Schmuckley in the category of Individual Patron; John Chan Plumbing in the category of Business; and Tom Johnsen in the category of Education. Each year, nominations for the Art Champion Awards are received from the community. The winners are selected by the Arts Council of Mendocino County’s Board of Directors, and recognized by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
The 2013 Mendocino County Art Champion Awards were presented by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors at its meeting on Tuesday, November 5th at 9:00 a.m. An official proclamation will be issued in the Supervisors’ Chambers at the Mendocino County Administration Center, 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah, followed by a public reception to honor the winners, hosted by the Arts Council of Mendocino County in Conference Room B.
2013 Artist Champion Bryan Arnold’s love affair with art began at the Willits Shakespeare Company during the 2000 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Acting quickly became a passion, but writing, directing, producing and teaching soon followed. Since his return to Mendocino County after graduating from San Francisco State University in 2005, Bryan has taught and directed theater arts at Mendocino College, The Willits Charter School, Willits Shakespeare Company, Ukiah Players Theatre and the Young Actors Theatre to hundreds of actors from 4-60 years old.
Bryan has worked or collaborated with every inland Mendocino theatre organization, and found great success with Willits Center for the Arts, Willits Community Theater, and Willits Shakespeare Company together with the San Francisco-based Oberlin Dance Collective in their joint collaboration on the Walking Distance Dance Festival. He served on the Willits Cultural Arts Commission for three years, and has been on the Willits Shakespeare Company Board of Directors since 2003.
Bryan started his entertainment business, Fractured Femur Productions, in 2008 with the goal of providing professional artistic productions to our wonderful rural community. He cites a commitment to community as the driving force behind his ardent commitment to promoting, advocating, representing, teaching and unifying the arts here in Mendocino County.
Jill Schmuckley, recipient of this year’s Individual Patron Art Champion award, relocated to Ukiah in 2001 from Portland, Oregon. In 2007, Jill became inland representative for the Mendocino Arts Magazine, published by the Mendocino Art Center, and joined the newly formed nonprofit Art Center Ukiah Board of Directors in 2009. With a background in marketing, Jill supported local art exhibits and activities in the First Friday Art Walk Ukiah, Corner Gallery, and Art Center Ukiah, as well as many other new businesses and galleries in the inland area.
Jill’s time providing press coverage, photographs, poster design, exhibitor and student recruitment and grantwriting has been exceptional. Her work has ranged from organizing galleries to participating in countywide activities such as the Mushroom Trail Art Walk for Visit Mendocino’s Mushroom and Wine Festival, or helping make vegetable stamps for a children’s art workshop on nutrition.
As a board member of Art Center Ukiah, Jill took the lead in creating new exhibits, and developing relationships with other nonprofits and assisting in creating many local events. She spearheaded The Chair Affair as a fundraiser to help cover expenses for Art Center Ukiah. The exhibit and auction of thirty “arted-up” chairs brought together a community of artists, businesses and individuals to have fun and enjoy art in a unique display. In her spare time, Jill enjoys photography, writing children’s stories, and last year attempted to relearn knitting.
John Chan Plumbing is honored as the 2013 Business Champion for the Arts. John’s generosity to the arts community began when he and his wife Jan went to see the play Urinetown at the Ukiah Players Theatre. The restrooms were out of order, and the audience had to use porta-potties. Seeing the need and a way that he could help, John offered his plumbing services to the theatre after the performance. It was a big job, but he donated all the plumbing, and of course has been doing so ever since.
John is also a continuing supporter of Mendocino Ballet, Art Center Ukiah, Mendocino College, Plowshares, SPACE, and the Senior Center. A lifelong resident of Ukiah, he is a first-generation son of Chinese immigrants. In 1951, his father Paul arrived in Ukiah with a suitcase, and eventually owned Paul’s Rice Bowl, where John helped after school, and the State Hotel, where John saw many down-on-their-luck individuals receive a reasonable place to live and get nourishment.
John’s ability to see the beauty of humanity gives him a deep insight into the beauty created by artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, poets, and everyone with whom he comes in contact. A community member writes: “Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, as it is in the soul of man. John Chan knows and supports the beauty of his fellow man, and all that is positive in our cultural world.”
Tom Johnsen, Education Arts Champion, is a painter and photographer. Born in Alameda in 1941, Tom started painting in earnest when he took classes for a studio degree from Sonoma State. He has been an art teacher at Potter Valley High School, and curator of the Ukiah Players Theatre’s lobby gallery since 1993. He has also acted in plays since 1977, and has created sets for Ukiah Players Theatre productions.
Tom teaches art to developmentally disabled adults at the Redwood Coast Regional Center’s TAPS (The Arts & Performance Studio) program, and he says it gives them a sense of pride and capacity. “I love seeing people wake up to themselves as artists,” he says, “and I believe anyone can do it. Sometimes all that is needed is to point out what they’ve done. I have come to see art and development as tied together.” He also makes display cases and arranges art shows for his students’ art.
Tom believes that art can have a positive influence on people of all kinds and situations. “It has been said that an artist could as easily be a criminal,” he notes. “It sometimes takes the realization that there is a choice. Teaching art… gave me insights into the role of art experience in education… I have come to see art and development as tied together.”
The Mendocino County Art Champion Awards are annually announced in October to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month, a coast-to-coast celebration of culture in America. The month is dedicated to giving millions the opportunity to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and encouraging them to begin a lifelong habit of active participation. 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 on the Mendocino County Art Champion Awards and other Arts Council of Mendocino County programs and services, go to call 707 463 2727.