Local art champions awarded at annual gala

Hector Dionicio Mendoza receives his professional artist award Feb. 2 from State Sen. Anna Caballero during the Champions of the Arts Gala. Below, Silka Saavedra stands with her family after accepting her volunteer award. (Photos by Richard Green)

SOUTH COUNTY — The 14th Annual Champions of the Arts Gala recently honored former King City resident Hector Dionicio Mendoza and longtime Greenfield volunteer Silka Saavedra, among others, for their contributions to the local arts community.

Presented by the Arts Council for Monterey County, the Feb. 2 gala at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa raised funds to support art programs throughout the region while recognizing a group of individuals who are making a difference in their communities through the arts.

Mendoza, who grew up in King City, was presented with the 2019 Professional Artist Award. The mixed-media artist has shown his work in Europe and most recently during an artist residency at the Monterey Museum of Art. He now teaches art at California State University Monterey Bay.

Saavedra, who has brought art and community programs to Greenfield over the past 10 years, was presented with the 2019 Volunteer Leader Award. She volunteers every year as the program director for the Greenfield Harvest Festival and currently works with businesses and schools to introduce free art programs to youth.

“Thank you to all the wonderful Champions, performing artists, visual artists, sponsors, volunteers, board members, media teams, donors and guests who made our latest edition of Champions of the Arts Gala such a thrill, so moving and a grand success by any measure,” wrote the Arts Council on its website.

Other 2019 award winners were jazz pioneer Dottie Dodgion for lifetime achievement; Urban Arts Collaborative founder Juan-Carlos Gonzalez for luminary; North Monterey County Unified School District teacher and band leader Marcie Chapa for educator; local mentors Malcolm and Judith Weintraub for art supporters; and printmaking facility Open Ground Studios for nonprofit.

“Now that the gala is over, we are turning our attention back to our arts education programs all over Monterey County,” added the Arts Council. “To get involved with the Arts Council, please let us know as soon as you are ready. We’ll find just the right spot for you that fits your needs and your schedule. There’s so much more we can do together.”

To get involved with the agency or view footage of the 2019 event, visit arts4mc.org.

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