All photos by Steven Meckler.
Bryan Castle, Capoeirista
Bryan Castle has been a practitioner of the Brazilian martial artform of capoeira for 22 years, studying throughout North America and Brazil with teachers such as the late Contramestre Dondi “Enxu” in Tucson. Castle now teaches capoeira at Movement Culture, Casa de Cultural, working to preserve the traditional dances and music of Brazil by supporting and honoring aging mentors and nurturing new and emerging artists through both the practice of the artform and cultural exchange between Brazil and the United States. He will work with apprentice, Malik Arceneaux.
Velma Kee Craig, Diné (Navajo) Textile Weaver
Though both of her grandmothers were weavers, Velma Kee Craig came to the artform later in life after they had passed. She was introduced to Barbara Teller Ornelas (2019 SFA Master-Apprentice Artist Awardee) through Barbara’s children and began studying with Barbara and her sister, Lynda Teller Pete, both master Diné weavers in Two Grey Hills tradition. She also studied books written by non-Native authors who learned from renowned Diné weavers and knowledge bearers, Hastiin Klah and Tiana Bighorse. Craig now teaches weaving to Dine students working to rekindle their family’s weaving tradition. She will work with Wayne Parkhurst, a beginning weaver and graphic artist.
Jesus Garcia, Horsehair and Agave Fiber Rope Making
Born and raised in Sonora, Mexico, with ranching and farming parents, Jesus Garcia learned horsehair and agave fiber rope “reata” from his father. He also sought out elders in rural Sonora who still practice the form, buying their work, learning from them, and sometimes bringing some of them across the border to demonstrate their art at folk festivals at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. As an educator of natural and cultural history of the Sonoran Desert, Garcia has shared the artform at festivals and cultural institutions for the past 20 years. He will work with Maegan Lopez of the Tohono O’odham Nation who plans to share the form with O’odham youth.
David Gill, Mariachi Folk Violinist
David Gill grew up in the barrios of Tucson where his mother always encouraged singing and music. He discovered mariachi while playing violin in a church group and went on to study it in school and through the Tucson International Mariachi Conference. He has performed with Tucson groups and Mariachi Sol de Mexico in Los Angeles. He is now an instructor of three youth mariachis groups in Tucson and an adult mariachi group in Phoenix. He will work with one of his students, Rigoberto Ramos, originally from Cocula, Jalisco, known as the birthplace of mariachi music.
Ansel Joseph, Steel Pan Craftsman
Ansel Joseph was born in Trinidad and Tobago, where from a young age he observed the islands’ earliest steel bands. When his older brother started a steel band, Joseph imitated him by making his own pans out of milk and juice cans. He later joined Trinidad’s first all-youth steel band and eventually became a protégé of the legendary steel pan innovator Elliot “Ellie” Mannette. He later took the artform to Canada and the United States, and eventually to Phoenix, where he continues to build and tune pans and share the form with the public. He will work with apprentice, Charlene Lusk, to pass along the art of building, tuning, teaching, arranging, and performing steel pan drums.
Josefina P. Lizarraga, Paper flower maker
Raised in Nayarit, Mexico, amidst rich vegetation and colorful flowers, Josefina Lizarraga learned about local flora and fauna from her mother, grandmothers, and elders. As a child she learned to make paper flowers from an artist in the pueblo of Ruiz and later from a Mexican-Chinese flower maker and dressmaker, who taught her to make paper flowers and to embroider. Lizarraga has been making paper flowers for 78 years and has demonstrated her craft at the annual Tucson Meet Yourself Festival for decades. She will continue working with her apprentice, Jean Ramirez, to share the artform.
Rick Manuel, O’odham Silversmith
Rick Manuel was raised by O’odham basketweavers and farmers and has over 48 years of experience as a silversmith, an artform he learned from teachers and his own experimentation, applying skills he learned in other trades, particularly carpentry. Early on, he studied and imitated Diné (Navajo) jewelers’ styles and designs then turned to O’odham symbols and scenery. One of his collections celebrates the traditions of O’odham women, including traditions such as the harvesting saguaro fruit, carrying burden baskets, making pottery and baskets, and baking bread in an old mud oven. He will work with his son, Jacob Manuel.
Maria del Carmen Parra, Ancestral foodways
Maria del Carmen Parra is a Xicana Indigena with lineages in Texcoco, Mexico, Raramuri from Chihuahua and Izkalotekatl from the Calpoalli Nahuacalco. She “grew up” in the kitchen with her mother, a traditional womb worker and healer, and later attended culinary school looking for a way to help her family heal from diabetes. She soon realized that a plant-based ancestral food diet was the only way to support her community and her own health. She now works to educate her community in Phoenix how to decolonize their diet and use ancestral foods for healing. She will work with her husband, Brian Cano, to deepen his knowledge of ancestral foods and create a garden for education.
Paul Anders Stout, Glass Blower
Paul Anders Stout started glass blowing at 19, when he went to assist the renowned glassblower, Tom Philabaum in his Tucson studio. He later traveled worldwide to study, eventually working for Hyaline Studios in Perth Australia, Hunting Studios in Wisconsin, and Salvadore Studios in Murano, Italy. He now works to connect these traditions to his own Southwest-inspired innovations. He will work with apprentice, Skyler Blood-Raiter, to teach the mixing, melting, and shaping of glass.
Ted Warmbrand, Folk Musician
Ted Warmbrand is a folk musician who embodies the spirit of Pete Seeger, using songs to build community, protest injustice, and bring joy to those around him. Warmbrand grew up in an Ashkenazi Jewish family in New York City, where he learned to sing old country songs from his parents and developed a deep respect for his historical roots. He found a similar respect for heritage across cultures in folk music, which offers people a common sense of belonging. He will work with apprentice, Jay Landon, to share the history of folk music forms and practice song creation and recreation.
Joanne Hunter of Chinle, AZ, is a Navajo artist using traditional Navajo rug designs in bead work. Her beaded necklaces pass on stories through patterns and hold significant spiritual stories. She will work with her daughter, Janicelynn Yazzie.
Keith Johnson is a Phoenix-based percussionist who plays rhythms from Africa and the African diaspora and builds traditional instruments and costumes. He will work with apprentice, Rohan Williams, to teach the artform of making and playing drums and other instruments.
Tamara Khachatryan is an Armenian-born violinist, who will work with her daughter Angelina, to transmit knowledge about Armenian culture and folk music.
Zach Lihatsh is a blacksmith who has trained with teachers from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Estonia and throughout the United States. He will work with apprentice, Austin Rose, a former student at Pima Community College.
Diana Olivares is a mariachi vocalist who has taught vocal workshops for the Tucson International Mariachi Conference, Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos, and Mariachi Azltán de Pueblo High School. She will work with apprentice, Giselle-Paris Aubrey.
Barbara Teller Ornelas is a fifth generation tapestry artist who carries on the family tradition of Navajo weaving. She will work with apprentice Velma Craig.
Adrian Perez plays Mexican folk harp, which traces traditional roots to jarocho music of the southern coast of Veracruz and mariachi music from western Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan. He will work with apprentice Ivan Miranda.
Anne Pollack has trained and practiced Afro-Brazilian capoeira and traditional Afro-Brazilian music and dance for 33 years. She will work with apprentice Aidan Miller-Wells to learn capoeira forms and instrument-making.
Carlos Valenzuela works in mixed media of glass, ceramic tile and clay who taught tile-making for many years through the Pima County youth program, Las Artes. He will work with Jacob Robles, a community organizer and muralist.
David Yubeta is an adobe brick maker and conservator of earthen architecture who spent 25 years preserving earthen resources in the arid Southwest for the National Park Service. He will work with apprentice Rachel Roberts.
Anthony Belvado, Violin Maker. San Carlos, AZ | 2018
Anthony Belvado is a violin maker from the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Traditional Apache violins are made by hand from a hollowed agave stalk and embody respect for plants and community. Their song is said to be a way of summoning true love, and the tradition—which dates back to the 1800s—is passed along male lineage. Belvado learned the craft from his late grandfather, Salton Reede, Sr., and will teach the form to his grandson, Jerimiah Wilson.
Neneng Babanto Fassler, Philippine Folk Dancer, Tucson, AZ | 2018
Neneng Babanto Fassler is a master performer and teacher of Philippine regional folk dances, which evoke nature, human lifestyle, work, ritual, and urban and rural environments. She learned traditional dance and music from her mother and other family members, growing up in the Philippines. Neneng has worked to share the tradition with the Filipino-American Sampaguita Club of Tucson and Bayanihan Filipino-American Club of Tucson. She will pass on traditional dances to apprentice, Jessa Luckett.
Mine Calik, Paper Marbling Artist, Tucson, AZ | 2018
Mine Calik practices the traditional Turkish art of Ebru, or paper marbling, in which color pigments are brushed onto a pan of oil-treated water then transferred to paper and used for decoration in bookbinding. She learned Ebru from a tradition bearer in Bursa after immigrating to the United States. Mine will teach the artform to her husband, Mustafa Calik, who began learning from her by watching her demonstrations at the annual folklife festival, Tucson Meet Yourself.
Fadi Iskandar, Violinist, Tucson, AZ | 2018
Fadi Iskandar is a master violinist from Syria with a deep musical understanding and knowledge of Middle Eastern music, theory, and culture. Trained as a young boy in classical violin, he then learned Middle Eastern music from elders in his community through improvisation and the practice of mastering by ear “maqam” or musical scales. His artistry is influenced by Arabic, Armenian, Syriac, Gypsy, French, Russian, Kurdish, Turkish, and Byzantine musical forms. He will work with apprentice, Isaac Zarif, a US-born student of Syrian descent.
Annetta Koruh, Hopi Basket Weaver, Bacavi, AZ | 2018
Annetta Koruh is a Hopi basket weaver from the village of Bacavi on the Third Mesa. She represents the fourth generation of basket weavers in her family. From her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, Annetta learned to harvest and process plants used in the practice, and to design baskets in ways that reveal aspects of the Hopi way of life and the role of women within the culture. In Hopi tradition, basketry is a spiritual and healing practice. Her apprentice is Mckenna Nachie, a college student who shares Annetta’s clan and has been observing different forms of basketry since fifth grade.
Jason Martinez, Flamenco Dancer, Tucson, AZ | 2018
Jason Martinez is a flamenco dancer and cajón player. He was introduced to the artform at the University of New Mexico, with instructors Eva Encinias-Sandoval and Pablo Rodarte, and later studied with Albuquerque’s National Institute of Flamenco, and in Sevilla, Spain. An original member of Yjastros, the American Flamenco Repertory Company in Albuquerque, he has performed with artists at Festival Flamenco Internacional and toured nationally as a soloist. He now teaches and performs in Tucson. He will work with his wife Mele Martinez, also a flamenco dancer, to deepen her practice of improvisation within the artform.
José Soto, Mexican Folkloric Dancer, Phoenix, AZ | 2018
José Soto is a dancer and teacher of traditional Mexican folkloric dance. He learned the form from his mother, a seamstress and costume maker, during his childhood in Sinaloa, Mexico, where he regularly participated in annual school festivals and community events. He later studied formally at California State University Fresno with the late Ernesto Martinez and learned not only the significance of the dances throughout Mexico, but also their role in the Chicano movement in the United States. Since 2010, Soto has directed Tradiciones Dance Company in Phoenix. He will work with apprentice Hector Villalba who joined Tradiciones seven years ago at age 13.
Stella Tucker, Saguaro Fruit Harvester, Tucson, AZ | 2018
Stella Tucker was a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and has been harvesting, processing, and preparing saguaro fruit into syrup, jam, and wine for traditional O’odham ceremony for over 65 years. The tradition has been passed down verbally and manually through songs, stories, and practice from generation to generation with no precise recipe or measurements. Stella was the guardian of the annual bahidaj (saguaro fruit harvest) camp in Saguaro National Park West for 25 years, after inheriting the responsibility from her great aunt, Juanita Ahil. She worked to pass the tradition on to her daughter Tanisha Tucker. Stella died in January 2019.
Louis David Valenzuela is one of the last traditional Yoeme cottonwood mask makers in Southern Arizona. From trees that have died, he harvests cottonwood and receives messages from it to guide his creations. He learned the form from traditional Pascola maskmakers from New and Old Pascua in Tucson. His masks represent significant cultural animals, such as Monkey, Goat, and Rooster. He also creates masks for the sacred Deer Dance, performed annually during the Pascua Yaqui lent ceremony. Valenzuela has taught and exhibited his work throughout the state. He will teach the form to his nephew, high school student Jeremy Alvarez.
Richard Noel, Percussionist. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Richard Noel is an ambassador of the Trinidad culture and community in Tucson and Southern Arizona preserving traditions in steel drum and various Caribbean hand drums. Richard will work with apprentice Westly Langly Henry II and other master drum makers in the state to build the skill set needed for cultural transmission.
Dan Levenson, Old Time Fiddler. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Dan Levenson has been involved in Old Time music his entire life as a student, teacher, performer, and author. He will work with fiddler Mary Ellen “Emmy” Truckenmiller to keep the tradition of Old Time music alive locally and regionally. Learn more about Dan and his performances and teaching here.
Alice Manuel, Onk Akimel O’odham Basket Weaver. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, AZ | 2017
Alice Manuel uses river willow, devil’s claw and cattail, as weavers from the region have been doing for generations. She will carry on this tradition by working with her apprentice and daughter Raeann Brown.
Francisco Garcia, Muralist. Phoenix, AZ | 2017
A muralist rooted in hip-hop culture and traditional muralism, Francisco’s work can be seen on walls in communities throughout Phoenix, Arizona. Garcia will work with emerging muralist Angel Lugo to build skills and knowledge of traditional and contemporary mural art by working on several community mural projects through mentorship in Phoenix.
Terrol Johnson, Traditional and Contemporary Tohono O’odham Basket Maker. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Founder of TOCA (Tohono O’odham Community Action) Terrol has been working with apprentice Edward Miguel, the grandson of Johnson’s first teacher, to share his knowledge and skill. This ongoing apprenticeship will preserve the traditional knowledge of Tohono O’odham basket weaving.
Wanesia Spry Misquadaceis, Annishinabae Artist and Jeweler | 2017
Wanesia Spry Misquadaceis will pass on the tradition of birchbark biting, a traditional art form of the Annishinabae people and Canada. The bitings are used in storytelling, beadwork, quillwork to produce baskets, medallions, dresses, seed pot containers, canoes, and Annishinabae sacred midi scrolls. Wanesia and mentee Lia Clark will work together through the four seasons of the year to share traditional knowledge and build skill in the artform.
Barbea Williams, Dancer of Traditional African and African Diaspora Forms. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Barbea Williams is dedicated to sharing ethnic dance and visual cultural traditions from Africa and the African Diaspora, including traditional West African, African Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and Haitian dance. Barbea will work with Jezaniah and daughter Beah to refine their knowledge and expertise in African centered dance and performance.
Joanna Schmit, Polish Folk Dancer. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Joanna Schmit uses dance as the medium to share and explore her native Polish culture through the traditional polish folk dance company, Lajkonik. She will work with her son, Matthew Schmit, and Amy Robertson to learn and perform a traditional folk polish wedding dance. The team will explore traditions of Polish culture, its roots, symbolism, costumes and custom variety.
Gertrude “Gertie” Lopez, Waila Musician. Tucson, AZ | 2017
Gertrude “Gertie” Lopez is a button accordion player in the Tohono O’odham waila tradition. Waila music was passed to Gertie by her late Father Augustine Lopez, and today she is the only female waila band leader in the state. She will work with band member Mike Lewis to preserve original old time waila songs.
Rod Ambrose, Storyteller. Glendale, AZ | 2016
Rod Ambrose is originally from Chicago, Illinois and has had a lifelong fascination and passionate involvement with Story Telling. Ambrose pulls from the oral traditions of West Africa, where storytellers shared values, legends, and news through song and story. Over 47 years Ambrose has studied, learned, developed, composed, written, acted in and directed plays in addition to storytelling in hundreds of elementary, middle & high schools, Universities and Community colleges throughout Arizona. His work now investigates the role of the “Black Urban Griot” in contemporary African-American culture.
Carmen Baron, Costume maker. Tucson, AZ | 2016
Carmen Baron has been sewing since she was a small child. She earned Mexican folklórico dance and costumes from her experiences studying and teaching with the Insituto de Folklore Mexicano in Tucson. Today teaches dance and creates costumes for her students, ranging in age from 1 to 18. The award will support her in sharing her knowledge of traditional folklórico costumes and sewing with her first apprentice.
Gerald Lomaventema, Hopi Overlay Jeweler. Second Mesa, AZ | 2016
Gerald Lomaventema will share the tradition of Hopi overlay jewelry, which he observed his father create when he was young. He began a formal apprenticeship at age 19 through the Hopi Guild Co-op on Second Mesa, and later learned to create jewelry in 3D and with color.
Kevin Lau, Chinese Lion Dancer. Phoenix, AZ | 2016
Performer Kevin Lau will teach the traditional Chinese Lion dance, an energetic dance performed traditionally during the Chinese New Year festival by two dancers accompanied by live percussionists. Drawing upon the Chinese martial art of gong fu (kung fu), the dance is said to bring good luck and fortune.
Reuben Naranjo, Traditional Tohono O’odham Potter. Tucson, AZ | 2016
Reuben Naranjo first learned Tohono O’odham pottery from his grandmother, Mary Lewis. Later he studied with Alicia Bustamente of S-Gogosik, Sonora, Mexico, and Annie Manuel of Hickiwan, Arizona, to make utilitarian terracotta ollas and white clay friendship pots using colored clay slips and paints. Naranjo will pass on the tradition of these O’odham women to his students.
Peter Rolland, Old Time Fiddler. Phoenix, AZ | 2016
A professional fiddling entertainer and fiddle teacher for 43 years, Peter Rolland has taught hundreds of students, many of whom have gone on to win fiddle contests and become professional players and teachers. The SFA Award will help support him in teaching traditional, old-time fiddling through the “Roland Fiddle Camp,” a week-long immersion gathering for students and teachers.
Ron Carlos, Potter. Salt River, AZ | 2015
Ron Carlos is a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He learned traditional paddle and anvil technique pottery in June 1994 from Phyllis Cerna and her daughter, Avis Pinion. Working with apprentice August Wood, Carlos shared his knowledge of collecting and processing natural clays and pigments, producing tools, creating pots using paddle and anvil technique, implementing native designs, and firing in open pit fires.
Mari Kaneta, Traditional Japanese Dancer. Tucson, AZ | 2015
Founder of the Tucson-based Traditional Japanese Dance group “Suzuyuki-Kai,” Kaneta received her degree and professional training in Tokyo. Kaneta has performed at multicultural events in Phoenix and Tucson for the past 25 years and internationally in Caracas, Venezuela and Nogales, Mexico. Traditional Japanese dance is taught orally, with direct instruction from the sensei and partnership with more experienced students. Mari worked with apprentice Suzu Igarashi, a classically training Japanese Dancer and member of her company, to teach traditional choreography and the history of the artform. Their goal is to make Suzu the sensai of the group by 2020.
Felipe Molina, Oral historian/Storyteller. Tucson, AZ | 2015
Felipe Molina is a life-long resident of Yoem Pueblo (Marana) and member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. He is an oral historian, a teacher of Yaqui language and culture, an experienced and accomplished deer singer and practitioner of other arts of the pahko, and an author and mentor to young Yaquis. A sought-after ceremonial leader, he has performed at many public gatherings internationally. Molina will continue to work with a group of apprentices, teaching and learning traditional Yoeme foodways and cultural expressions.
Adolfo “Zarco” Guerrero, Wood Carver & Maskmaker. Phoenix, AZ | 2015
Adolfo “Zarco” Guerrero is a member of both the Acjachamen Tribe of Southwestern California and the Opata from Sonora. He began making masks in Mexico in 1975, and later served as an apprentice to Joshun Fukakusa, a master Noh mask carver in Kyoto, Japan. Guerrero studies Nahuatl language and works to disseminate ancient Mexican cultural artforms. He worked with apprentice Hector Moreno, a member of the fokloric dance troup, Ollin Yolitzli, to carve an ancient MesoAmerican drum called the “Huehuetl” and fabricate the traditional “Copilli” headdress, both used in Aztec dance performances and ceremony.