Bonfils-stanton honors artist Carlos Fresquez
Had Carlos Fresquez not acted when his wife encouraged him to quit a job he disliked and make art his full-time career, he might not be what he is today: An artist whose works are important enough to have hung in galleries and museums worldwide.
“I was in a job that I hated, but she believed so much in me that she told me to quit and do art full time,” Fresquez recalled as he accepted the Bonfils-stanton Foundation’s 2018 Artist Award at a luncheon held at the Grand Hyatt Denver.
He recalled that it took about a year for him to muster the courage to make that break; never once did he regret it.
Fresquez’s early works were inspired by the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s; in 1992, pieces he had created were included in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s first exhibition of Chicano art.
Today Fresquez, a Denver native, is known for his culturally inspired paintings, murals, collages and theater set designs and has had had exhibitions at The Bronx Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, La Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. He also is a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, encouraging his students to produce meaningful works of art and preparing them to succeed in the art world following graduation.
“I told myself that if I made it as an artist, I would give back to my community the way my community has given back to me.”
In the video that traced Fresquez’s career, Tony Garcia, a playwright and executive artistic director of Su Teatro, described his friend as “Weird, humble — and terribly talented.”
Also at the luncheon, Arlene and Barry Hirschfeld received the Community Service in the Arts Award and Susan Jenson was given the Arts and Society Award.
Each award carries a $35,000 stipend and a commemorative glass sculpture.
The Hirschfelds, also Denver natives, share a commitment to supporting worthy causes, especially those relating to the arts and culture.
Arlene serves on the boards of the Denver Art Museum, the MDC Richmond American Homes Foundation, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation and the Colorado Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund. She was the first Jewish president of the Junior League of Denver, the fourth woman to chair the board of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado (now Jewishcolorado) and the first woman to chair the Rose Community Foundation board.
Her husband helped establish the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and has had key roles in raising funds for the Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum and the expansion of the Colorado Convention Center. He has been inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame.
Denver Art Museum director Christoph Heinrich described them as “Models of what the phrase ‘power couple’ should mean … they’re wonderful cheerleaders for cultural life.”
Susan Jenson, recipient of the Arts and Society Award, has been executive director for Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) for 15 years. In keeping with her belief that the arts personalize learning for all young people, she has helped design on-site art classes and art-based job training sessions that help young people from underserved communities engage with issues and concepts that impact them personally and build the 21st century skills they need to succeed.
In videotaped remarks, Gov. John Hickenlooper noted that Jenson’s ability to spark an artistic fire within the youths, in an environment where they feel safe, included and inspired, enables them to “Better their tomorrows.”
So much so that 99 percent of DAVA participants go on to careers in business, technology, the sciences and education.
The luncheon was emceed by Hal Logan, chairman of the Bonfils-stanton Foundation board, and included remarks by Gary Steuer, the president and chief executive officer.
Logan pointed out that “Over 100 esteemed leaders have been honored since the awards were established in 1984.” Previous recipients in attendance included Cleo Parker Robinson, Curt Fentress, Merle Chambers, Steve Seifert, Dr. Patricia Gabow, Dan Ritchie, Hugh Grant, Patty Limerick, Dr. John Repine and Ellie Caulkins.
The Bonfils-stanton Foundation was formed in 1962 by Ed Stanton, following the death of his wife, May Bonfils Stanton, whose father, Frederick Bonfils, was publisher and co-founder of The Denver Post. The purpose was to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of leaders in several fields, and to inspire others to greater achievement.
Since its founding, the Bonfilsstanton has distributed some $69 million in charitable contributions. Its current focus is on the arts.
Malik Robinson, Dave Ryan, Cristina Aguilar, Christine Marquez-hudson and Jay Grimm.
Barry and Arlene Hirschfeld, Susan Jenson and Carlos Frésqez.
Elaine Mariner, Cleo Parker Robinson and Elaine Torres.
John E. Repine, Ellie Caulkins and Curt Fentress.
Deborah Jordy, Dan Ritchie, Patty Limerick and Hugh Grant.
Gary Steuer and Hal Logan.