Bon­fils-stan­ton hon­ors artist Car­los Fresquez

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Joanne David­son, Spe­cial to The Denver Post on Twit­ter. Joanne David­son: 303-809-1314, par­ti­writer @hot­ and @joanne­david­son

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.

Pho­tos by Steve Peter­son, Spe­cial to The Denver Post

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.

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