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The Board of Directors of the Arts Council of Mendocino County is pleased to announce the 16th Annual Mendocino County Arts Champion Award recipients.

Each year, nominations for Arts Champion Awards are solicited from the community at large. Honorees are selected by the Arts Council of Mendocino County’s Board of Directors, and are formally recognized with a proclamation by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.

The 2018 honorees are as follows:

The Green Room in Point Arena – Mural by Nicole Ponsler, 2018

The Green Room in Point Arena has been selected as the 2018 Business Champion for the Arts. This cannabis dispensary spent thousands of dollars contracting with muralist Nicole Ponsler to create an appealing nature-themed mural, clearly visible upon entry into Point Arena from the south, that greatly enhances the entry into the town.



Cathleen Micheaels, shown here demonstrating decorative paste papermaking techniques to students, is this year’s Arts Champion in the Artist category.


Poet and book artist Cathleen Micheaels is the 2018 honoree in the Artist category for her inspirational work bringing together integrated literary and visual arts project partnerships in schools and communities. With great care, skill, and attention to detail, she engages students of all ages in cross-age poetry writing, bookmaking, printmaking and photography projects that support teaching and learning across the school community. A nominator says, “(Her work) is always collaborative in nature, drawing in teachers, parents, and community… Each student ‘artist’ becomes empowered and transformed in the process. She is a true gem in our county.”



Albert Repovsch of Laytonville is the 2018 Arts Champion in the Individual category.

Albert Repovsch—the iconic “Albert” of Laytonville—is the 2018 Mendocino County Arts Champion in the Individual category. He is the proprietor of the former Albert’s gas station in the center of town, and has made the site available to many art-related events over several years—an arts and crafts gallery, arts walks, music events, arts and crafts vendors, and even the local farmers market—all free of charge. His nominator calls him “a generous, stalwart and uncomplaining host to myriad art and community-related events that otherwise would not have had a home.”



Gary Martin of Willits is this year’s Arts Champion in the Educator category.

Gary Martin, curator at Willits Center for the Arts, is the 2018 Arts Champion in the Educator category. Once a month, this “incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining lecturer,” according to one nominator, gives talks with slideshows about all types of art, art history, and art appreciation, and teaches art to elementary-school children and a wide variety of other age groups.



Willits Center for the Arts is this year’s Arts Organization Champion for the Arts.

Willits Center for the Arts is this year’s Arts Organization Champion for the Arts. According to its nominators: “Ever since the bypass went through, folks have been wringing their hands about how to keep our town viable. (WCA) is at the forefront of our town’s renaissance. They have a full-on art gallery that showcases local and out-of-area artists…. Upstairs is a huge space that can be rented for events…. All the board members are so dedicated and visionary. Willits is so lucky to have this center in our town”; “(WCA) has expanded its outreach to the local community and beyond…. Monthly themed exhibits of outstanding quality have brought countywide attention”; “Beautiful, well-run center”; and “(WCA is a) vital, central gem…. introducing a new ceramic studio with classes and open studio, as well as classes in other media.”



David “Sus” Susalla, executive director of the Gualala Arts Center since 2004, received Honorable Mention as a 2018 Arts Champion

An Honorable Mention Arts Champion Award is also being given to David “Sus” Susalla, executive director of the vibrantly active Gualala Arts Center since 2004. In the words of his nominator, “He has contributed so much to our arts community and the community at large, making the Arts Center a place to share and a place to make dreams and ideas happen.”



Jim Colling was posthumously awarded a 2018 Arts Champion Honorable Mention. Photo by Cat Vibert.

Jim Colling, who passed away in November 2017, is posthumously given Honorable Mention as a 2018 Arts Champion. A native of Fort Bragg, he was a skilled and passionate acrylics painter, president of the Ukiah Valley Art Coop as well as the Mendocino County Art Association, and organized Ukiah’s Art Faire and Studio Tours. He led an active and adventurous life, and was quoted as telling his cardiologist that he didn’t want to talk about his heart, he wanted to talk about ART!


The Arts Champion Awards and an official proclamation was presented by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on December 4th in the Supervisors’ Chambers at the County Administration Center, 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah. The public joined the Arts Council and Board of Supervisors to recognize and celebrate the honorees. A public reception to honor the winners was hosted by the Arts Council of Mendocino County in Conference Room B immediately following the supervisors’ meeting.

The Mendocino County Arts Champion Awards are annually proclaimed 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 or the California Arts Council website at

For more information on the Mendocino County Art Champion Awards and other Arts Council of Mendocino County programs and services, visit or call 707-463-2727.

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