What We Do
We select our region’s finest artists through a competitive process using independent expert panels, and honor these artists with unrestricted cash prizes, promotion, and recognition at the annual SVArts awards celebration.
Who We Serve
We serve Santa Clara County artists across multiple disciplines, as showcased in our SVLaureate Directory. These artists were selected for the quality of their work and their commitment to enriching our community with exhibitions, performances, presentations, and service. Additionally, we serve the broader community by introducing new artists and new artwork to arts lovers, students, and community leaders.
Why It’s Important
Artists contribute socially and culturally to a vibrant and creative community, challenge our hearts and minds, and bring joy, new insights and learning to our lives. We believe they deserve our encouragement, recognition, and financial support.
What’s Been Done
- Celebrated the achievements of over 140 artists since 1991, across a wide range of artistic disciplines, and invested over $400,000 in their work.
- Developed SVLaureate Directory to highlight the work of these artists and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Artist Laureate program in 2015.
- Expanded the annual celebration into SVArts, including a special edition of Content Magazine featuring the Laureate.
Meet our 2019 SVLaureates:
Backstage Laureate: Andrea Bechert, Scenic Designer
Andrea Bechert has designed over 350 productions and numerous world premieres at theatres across the country. Companies she has designed for include TheatreWorks, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, The Cleveland Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Opera San Jose, Center Repertory Theatre, the Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, Peninsula Youth Theatre, San Jose Children’s Musical Theatre Company, the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, and many others.
Her designs have been included in the 2005 World Design Expo and her designs for Mad Forest were selected for the 1996 Prague Quadrennial exhibit. Her numerous awards include Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards (most recently for Fun Home), and more than 20 other regional design awards.
Andrea currently teaches design for Theatre & Film at San Jose State University, and has taught at and been a guest at several other universities. Andrea is a proud and active member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.
On the Wall Laureate: Renee Billingslea, Visual Artist
Renee Billingslea is a visual artist whose art practice is a “call for action.” Her artwork addresses profound issues of race, racial violence, trauma, and white privilege. Billingslea’s process most often begins with historical photographs or hidden stories that direct her toward research, which she uses to inform the construction of objects and non-traditional photographs. Billingslea earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Oregon State University and a Masters of Fine Art from San Jose State University. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History at Santa Clara University, where she teaches photography.
On the Wall Laureate: Pantea Karimi, Visual Artist
Pantea Karimi has lived, studied, and worked in Iran, the UK and the US and presently resides in San Jose, California. Karimi’s fine arts are in public and private collections and have been exhibited in diverse solo, group and traveling exhibitions in Iran, Algeria, Germany, Croatia, Mexico, the UK, and the US. She is the recipient of the 2019 Arts and Cultural Exchange Grant in San Jose; the 2016-2017 Kala Fellowship Award; and the 2011 Multicultural Arts Leadership Initiative Fellowship. Karimi researches visual representations in medieval Persian and Arab and early modern European scientific manuscripts in five categories: mathematics, medicinal botany, anatomy, optics, and cartography. She works with interactive installations, virtual reality, silkscreen, and digital prints.
Pantea is an Adjunct Faculty in the Departments of Studio Art and Digital Media at the College of San Mateo and maintains a studio in Cubberley Artist Studios in Palo Alto, CA.
On Stage Laureate: Ray Furuta, Musician
Hailed as “The Rockstar of the Flute” (Informador de Guadalajara) and “The protégé of the great flutist by Carol Wincenc [Professor of Flute at The Juilliard School]” (San Jose Mercury News), Ray Furuta has toured worldwide as a soloist and teacher in countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Czech-Republic, Poland, Spain, and throughout the Middle East. He has been a featured performer for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, United Nations, and the Mainly Mozart, Okayama, Yellow Barn, and Banff Music Festivals to name only a few. He is the Artistic Director and founder of Chamber Music Silicon Valley and has professionally collaborated with renowned artists including Jon Nakamatsu and members of the Kronos, Juilliard, Brooklyn Rider, and Emerson String Quartets. He is a Music Professor at Santa Clara University and has also guest taught at Stanford University, New York University, and Lebanese American University of Beirut, among many others. Honored as a distinguished alumnus in 2016, Furuta earned a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Stony Brook University.
On the Page Laureate: Nils Peterson, Writer, Poet
Nils Peterson is Professor Emeritus in English at San José State University. In 2009, he was chosen as the first Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County. He has published poetry, science fiction, and articles on subjects as varied as golf and Shakespeare. His chapbooks include Here Is No Ordinary Rejoicing, Driving a Herd of Moose to Durango, For This Day, The Revenge of the Socks, and For This Day II. A collection of poems, The Comedy of Desire, edited and introduced by Robert Bly, was published by The Blue Sofa Press. Other books include Water, Fire, Earth, & Air, Meditations and Poems on the Four Elements (San José, 2003), A Walk to the Center of Things (Caesura Editions, 2011), and a memoir Talk in the Reading Room (Wordrunner Press, 2014). In 2016, he published earth, water, fire, air a collection of poems each illustrated by a watercolor by Lorraine Chapparall. A new collection of poetry, All the Marvelous Stuff, was just published by the Poetry Center of San José (PCSJ). Coleman Barks called it, “intelligent, lonely, funny, and real.”
SVNexus Award: Mel Day, Visual Artist
Mel Day‘s interdisciplinary work combines new technologies and the virtual with traditional media and experiences. Day has exhibited and screened her work nationally and internationally, at venues that include Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco Film Festival, The Berlin Office in Germany, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Art Museum, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, ZERO1 Biennale, and Peak Gallery in Toronto. Residencies include Stanford University’s Experimental Media Arts Lab, Headlands Center for the Arts (Alumni New Works Award and UC Berkeley MFA Fellowship), Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus (Schwandorf, Germany), and The Lab (San Francisco). Honors include San Francisco Foundation’s Murphy Fellowship in the Fine Arts and the Eisner Prize in the Creative Arts from UC Berkeley. Day currently has a position as Visiting Lecturer at San José State University, and has taught at UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and University of Toronto Mississauga/Sheridan College. She holds an MFA from UC Berkeley and a BFA from Queen’s University, Canada with a year’s scholarship exchange to the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.
Content Emerging Artist: Jarvis Subia, Performance Poet
Born and raised in the San José Bay Area, Jarvis Subia‘s work delves into his relation with his communities, sexuality, masculinity, national/global politics, lineage, race, gardening, mental health, personal growth, and love.
Jarvis is San José’s 2018 Poetry Grand Slam Champion. He has been a part of 5 national poetry slam teams representing his college and city. His accomplishments include: graduating with a BA from San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing program, placing 2nd in the nation for multi-voice poems in 2015 with the Palo Alto slam team, coaching a youth and 2 collegiate poetry slam teams for MACLA in San Jose and SFSU, and participating in the masters writing workshop at the 2017 Las Dos Brujas writers conference. Jarvis is a member of 2017-18 & 2018-19 Youth Speaks’ Emerging Poet Mentors collective, an in-class teaching artist for SFJAZZ’s Jazz In The Middle residency program, and is the after school poetry instructor for the Digital Media & Culture Studio at Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana/MACLA, a contemporary Latin arts and community organization based in San José.
Join us for the 2019 SVArts Awards on Thursday, June 27th at 6:30pm at Forager Tasting Room & Eatery in downtown San Jose to celebrate the works of the SVLaureates. The event will include a formal awards program emceed by KQED’s Michael Isip. A new edition of Content Magazine, featuring profiles of the SVLaureates, will be released at the Pick-Up Party immediately following the awards program.
General admission tickets are $10, complimentary tickets are available to Content Magazine subscribers and former SVLaureates. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.
2020 SVLaureate applications will open in Fall 2019, click here for more information.