Four Santa Cruz County Artists Awarded Rydell Visual Arts Fellowships for 2018 and 2019

December 27, 2017 - Community Foundation Santa Cruz County continues its support to local individual visual artists!

The next four Rydell Visual Arts Fellowships have been announced. For 2018, fellowships are awarded to painter Myra Eastman and intermedia artist Robin Kandel. For 2019, the fellowships go to painter Robert Chiarito and sound, performance and digital media artist David Dunn

Each fellowship recipient receives $20,000. The fellowships help individual artists pursue their creative work and are made solely on the merits of their artistry and not tied to the completion of any specific projects. 

Roy and Frances Rydell established the Rydell Visual Arts Fund at the Community Foundation in 1985, to support the arts in Santa Cruz County in perpetuity.

Following their passing, their estate was bequeathed to the Community Foundation, with the proceeds of the sale added to the fund, which has grown to more than $2.4 million. The fund is used to support the arts through grants to visual arts organizations and fellowships to individual artists.

The fellowship program was developed with input from the local arts community to honor the wishes and intent of the Rydells in creating and expanding the fund. Now in its 12th year, the fellowship program has awarded $520,000 to practicing artists.

Program Director Christina Cuevas said: “Roy and Frances Rydell would be proud to see how their support is making a difference for local artists. It was the Rydells’ intent that the visual arts would be supported in perpetuity and that’s what the fund is doing. It is a permanent legacy that benefits everyone in Santa Cruz County.”

The Artists

Myra Eastman

Myra Eastman is a painter whose works engage with the political and social change events of the contemporary world. She has shown in solo exhibits at Museo Eduardo Carrillo; Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History; Felix Kulpa; Gallerie Lumiere, Savannah, GA; and the San Francisco Public Library. She participated in group shows at the Petaluma Arts Center; bG Gallery, Santa Monica; San Diego Art Institute; Mint Gallery, Atlanta; Phoenix Gallery, New York; and OnSite Brooklyn, among others. She holds a B.A. from University of California, Santa Cruz. Myra is a recently retired Public School Educator having taught elementary and middle school students for over thirty-five years in Santa Cruz County. 


Robin Kandel

Robin Kandel is an intermedia artist. Her work includes large-scale drawings, paintings and video installations. She received solo exhibitions at the Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco; Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Santa Monica; Mirage Gallery and Gallery ef, Tokyo; and The Santa Cruz City Landfill. Robin’s group shows include Felix Kulpa; San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art; Pajaro Valley Art; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley; San Jose Museum of Art, MAH Santa Cruz and the Sesnon Gallery. The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, Artweek and KQED, among other publications, have written about her work. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Grant and her work is in the public collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, San Francisco; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; and the San Jose Museum of Art. Robin holds a BFA from the University of Michigan.

Robert Chiarito

Robert Chiarito is a painter whose work received solo exhibitions at the Triton Museum; Stanford Art Gallery; Galleria Jose Maria Velasco, Mexico City; Ahknaton Gallery, Cairo, Egypt; Casa de la Cultura Tlalpan, Mexico City; and Ovsey Gallery, Los Angeles, among others. He participated in numerous group shows including being selected for the Florence Biennale. Robert received commissions to create pubic work for the Oakland City Center, Bramalea Pacific/Cafe Fontebella, and Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. Among his awards are a Fulbright Binational Commission with Helwan University, Cairo, and the American Society of Graphic Artists Award. Robert’s paintings are held in private collections throughout North America and Europe as well as Lloyds of London, Los Angeles, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He holds a BA from the UC Santa Cruz and an MFA from Stanford University. Currently, he is Professor of Art at San Jose State University.

David Dunn

David Dunn’s work (see video) crosses the boundaries between sound, performance, media arts and bioacoustics research. His recent installations and performances include the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History; Artpark Lewiston, NY; Art Center, Miami; The Lab, San Francisco; Gallery of Fine Arts Ostrava, Slovakia; and frieraum quartier 21, Vienna. He is the author and editor of six books and his writings have appeared in over 100 academic and arts publications. He received grants from the Ford Foundation, two from the Henry Langlois Foundation, three from the Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, an Alpert Award and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts. He holds an MFA in New Media from Danube University, Austria. Currently, he is an assistant professor of Music and Core Faculty in the Digital Arts and New Media Program at UC Santa Cruz. 

How the Awards Were Made

Forty-seven artists applied for this round of fellowships. They were in a candidates pool nominated by 21 local and regional visual arts organizations and the former Rydell Fellowship recipients.  

Those nominated into the candidates pool had to be working artists 25 years or older, who reside in Santa Cruz County and are not enrolled in a degree granting program.

Nominating organizations were asked to consider the broad disciplines the Rydells thought of as part of the visual arts: painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, installation, mixed media, stage set design, photography, costume design, textiles, glass, film and video.

In October 2017, a panel of three nationally-recognized arts professionals met at the Foundation to review the artists’ works and select the fellowship recipients:

  • Robert Blackson, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Temple Contemporary, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
  •  Paul Ha, Director, List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge, MA.
  • Alma Ruiz, Senior Fellow at the Center for Management in the Creative Industries at Claremont Graduate University and Sotheby's Institute of Art in Los Angeles.

The fellowship program is coordinated Project Director Jack Walsh. To ensure the selection process is as unbiased as possible the panelists only view the artists' work and receive no names or biographical information. 

Cuevas said: "Jack, an artist himself, has done an outstanding job managing the program. We also brought in some of the best art professionals from around the country to select the local fellowships recipients. The 2018-2019 fellows clearly join the ranks of their contemporaries that are making art in a globally influenced, culturally diverse and technologically innovative world."