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Santa Monica Celebrates Local Art Leaders

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

April 14, 2014 -- The Santa Monica Arts Foundation held its second-annual award ceremony last week, celebrating three of the bayside city’s foremost leaders in the arts community.

Mayor Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica’s State Assembly Rep. Richard Bloom and about 80 other local leaders gathered at Shutters on the Beach Thursday to celebrate the three honorees who have contributed to the bayside’s art community in a variety of ways.

From patronizing the arts to facilitating art through creative business models to using art to educate, Thursday’s honorees “are instrumental in making Santa Monica an exceptionally vibrant arts community,” officials said.

Local artist and entrepreneur Susanna Bixby Dakin, who cofounded the 18th Street Arts Center and its artist-in-residency program, was recognized for her extensive patronage of Santa Monica’s artists.

Donna Sternberg took home the Foundation’s Artist in the Community/Bruria Finkel Award.

Named for one of Santa Monica’s most influential arts activists and founder of the Arts Commission, the award recognizes Sternberg as “an artist who has contributed significantly to Santa Monica’s arts community through activism, patronage, and/or volunteerism,” officials said.

Sternberg, herself a member of the Arts Commission and a dancer, has dedicated “her art not only to the creative impulse but also to use it as an educational tool,” officials said.

In her decades as a performer, she bridged the gap between the humanities and the sciences, officials said.

“In the past ten years, she has been commissioned to create works on themes such as quantum physics, quantum entanglement, perception and memory, the environment, celestial mechanics and plant biology,” officials said.

Also honored Thursday was gallery-owner Yossi Govrin, the cofounder of the Santa Monica Art Studios at in a hangar at Santa Monica Airport.

“The art center houses artists, presents local and international art exhibits, and is a catalyst and educational tool for the Santa Monica arts community,” officials said.

Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Manager Jessica Cusick said that the Foundation’s award ceremony is as much about honoring those who have supported the arts as it is building a new generation of leadership in the community.
“The hope has been through the recognition of people’s contributions to encourage others to model the same behavior,” Cusick said.

“It gets them energized about participating themselves in different ways,” she said, adding that people are already talking about next year’s ceremony and banding about artists’ names for nomination.

Cusick added that anyone can nominate a local artist or supporter of the arts at Nominations are open all year long, she said.

City staff will begin reviewing nominees for next year’s ceremony in December, Cusick said.
“We hope to expand the pool of nominees,” she said. “Everybody knows somebody who is active in the arts in Santa Monica and making a difference.”

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