Wednesday, February 8, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on May 1st, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 9 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 9

Winners of the Individual Grants in the Arts Competition share their inspirations


Since 1972, more than $300,000 in grants has been awarded to local artists, dancers, actors, and musicians through the Individual Grants in the Arts Competition. What each recipient has in common—besides talent, obviously—is they’ve all survived the audition stage, or “Judgement Day” as Marti Fast, co-chair of the grants committee, warmly calls it.

“I love hearing the performers warm up before the auditions, and seeing the focus on the faces of the artists,” Fast said. “We work for six months each year to pull this all together, and the reward is the proud smiles on the faces of the parents and mentors of each recipient.”

First place in Dance winner Charlotte Baldiviez explores the theme of our own bodies betraying us, during her dance set to Ghost Quartet’s “Prayer.”

Each year, the Santa Maria Arts Council chooses three judges to not only select the competition’s award recipients but offer constructive guidance to every auditionee. For this year’s first place in Dance winner, Charlotte Baldiviez, the fear of performing in front of the “Judgement Day” board was only equal to the fear of performing in front of anyone else.

“Doing pieces that mean so much to me can often be risky because I have to share a part of myself that I maybe wouldn’t share otherwise,” Baldiviez told the Sun. “I mean, I don’t exactly walk around telling people that at 24 I already can’t dance the way I used to.”

For the audition, Baldiviez chose to perform a dance centered on the theme of our own bodies betraying us, she explained, set to “Prayer” from the musical Ghost Quartet. The song’s lyrics express a longing for self-forgiveness.

“While I know that it is important for me to be forgiving with my body, I can’t help but feel absolutely betrayed,” Baldiviez said. “As a dancer, I am learning—faster than I’d like—that my body just simply cannot do the same things it could 10 years ago. My mind knows what my body is supposed to do, it hears me tell it what to do, but my body is struggling to keep up.”

But Baldiviez’s exploration of the theme is also inspired by a far more devastating betrayal of the body, the dancer said, as someone dear to her is currently battling cancer.

PCPA student Brooke Johnson won first place in Drama for performing a monologue from Othello and a song from The King and I.

“That is a betrayal of the body that is infuriating to even observe, so I can only imagine how they feel—or rather, I can’t,” Baldiviez said. “This idea of what happens after our bodies, our real homes, start to become unrecognizable in big and small ways is striking to me. How do we feel? How are we supposed to feel? I don’t know. But I do dance about it.”

Like Baldiviez, first place in Visual Arts winner Donna Olivera tackled a subject close to her heart. For consideration in the competition, Olivera submitted several pieces of ceramic art, including Para mis Antepasados/Those I Carry With Me. She first envisioned creating the porcelain vase during a course at Allan Hancock College taught by Amiko Matsuo, whom Olivera considers a mentor.

“She [Matsuo] helped us map our personal relationships with our ceramic art,” Olivera said. “So I began developing a piece that I wanted to honor my antepasados [ancestors] with, specifically the people who I have lost in my lifetime and have chosen to carry with me.”

During Santa Maria’s Día de los Muertos Festival last October, Olivera placed the vase at the event’s altar in Veterans’ Memorial Park. One of her favorite parts of the experience was discussing the piece and its relationship to the sacred holiday with others.

Para mis Antepasados/Those I Carry With Me was one of the ceramic pieces artist Donna Olivera, who won first place in Visual Arts, submitted to the competition for consideration.

“I was able to converse with the community about our traditions, such as mole, altars, and our connections with clayware,” Olivera said. “I haven’t considered myself an artist until fairly recently, and now I proudly consider myself a community artist. I hope to engage my community through clay.”

The vase and other ceramic works by Olivera will be on display at the competition’s awards presentation on May 6. Baldiviez will be performing during the showcase, which will also include performances from first place in Music winner Kevin Park and first place in Drama winner Brooke Johnson.

“I felt an overwhelming sense of relief when I found out I was chosen as a winner for the grant,” Johnson told the Sun. “I’m honored for the opportunity and that such a great program was made available to me and my peers in the first place.”

Curtain call
The Santa Maria Arts Council hosts the 2019 Grants Showcase on May 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marian Theatre, located at Allan Hancock College, 800 S. College Drive, Santa Maria. Tickets range from $10 to $30. Visit for more info.

For her audition, Johnson chose to perform Desdemona’s monologue from Othello and the song “Hello Young Lovers” from The King and I. As a second-year PCPA student, the actor described her time with the program as “truly irreplaceable” and responsible for bringing a unique philosophy to her attention, one she plans to hold onto wherever her career leads.

“I think this program has not only developed my point of view toward acting, but also my point of view on being a functioning and compassionate human being,” Johnson said. “My teachers always push the idea that acting is just learning to be human and being able to reflect that humanity to an audience.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood would love to receive a grant at

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