2021 Excellence in Arts Award Winners

The Brighton Excellence in Arts committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 awards.  These cultural arts champions were honored at a reception on October 19, 2021. The Excellence in Arts Awards are funded by the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, Lodging Tax, and SCFD. The BCAC created the awards to celebrate individuals and groups within Brighton who are cultural arts champions.

To watch video interviews with the winners, click here.

Jo Pinto - Master of Fine Arts

 Author Jo Pinto was raised in Brighton and graduated with exceptional grades despite being blind. Pinto’s first book, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” published in 2015, is a story of redemption and ultimate victory, and won a first place Indie Book Award for inspirational fiction and also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Pinto published her second book this year, titled “Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark.” Pinto gives book talks around the area and her books are available on Amazon.com. Pinto also serves on the Brighton Historic Preservation Committee and the Diversity Council.

Chris Romero - Master of Performing Arts

 Actor and musician Chris Romero a.k.a. “Romero” is a Colorado native born and raised in Brighton and has been part of the Denver music scene for almost 20 years. Romero has been part of several bands and movies over the years including the bands SICK, Drug Under and Romero and the movies “Halloween 2”by Rob Zombie and “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.” Romero is happily married with four kids.  

Sydney VanderWal - Master of Cultural Arts in Education

Sydney VanderWal has been with 27J Schools for many years and at Innovations & Options for four years. She has taken on the role of mentor for the teachers and staff, as well as for the students she teaches. VanderWal is an artist who motivates students to do their best work and to search within themselves for their art. Students sing VanderWal’s praises, with a current student stating in part, “VanderWal is an amazing art teacher. She's more than just an art teacher. She never holds back students' creative ability and encourages non-art students to try art even if it isn't their strongest subject. She has always supported me and my progress with my art.” 

Stephanie Brown - Outstanding Volunteer in Cultural Arts

 Stephanie Brown was born and raised in Wichita. Kansas. Brown and her husband lived in Hudson, Massachusetts prior to retiring and moving to Brighton in 2010. Always interested in drawing as a child, art was Brown’s  favorite subject in school. Most of her creative outlets over the years were in the area of tole painting, furniture refinishing and any other hobby that caught her interest. She has taken oil painting classes at Main Street Creatives in downtown Brighton from both Judith Dickinson and Jeremiah White, and still works in this medium. Once Brown’s children were raised and off to college, she pursued her interest in glass art for 20 years and counting. Brown has participated in Art at the Armory, Art in The Park and Echter’s Glass Show in the fall and currently displays her glass creations at Main Street Gallery. 

Wilma Rose - Visionary

Wilma Rose serves the local art community in many ways - She’s currently president of the Brighton Public Art Committee, vice president of the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission and member of the Sculpture on Loan Committee, Eye for Art Committee, Public Art Committee and Brighton Music Choir. Rose is a past member of Brighton City Council and also served on the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) Selection Committee. 

Dolly Garcia - Beyond Brighton

Dolly Garcia is a “behind the scenes” worker who sees what needs to be done and works tirelessly to make that vision a reality. Two programs she has dedicated herself to have made a big difference in Brighton - one is the Platte Valley Players and the other is Readers Theatre at Eagle View Adult Center. Garcia is a founding member of the Platte Valley Players Board of Directors and has been the person who writes grants and works on funding for this community group. Garcia has also served on the Board of Directors in numerous positions, including president. In addition, she was actively involved in the community group that had a vision to create the Armory, serving on numerous committees and teams in the design of this incredible project. Platte Valley Players would not be what they are today without Garcia.