2019 Distinction in the Arts Ceremony
About The Show
The San Antonio Arts Commission and the City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture present the 2019 Distinction in the Arts (DIA) Ceremony at the Tobin Center on Thursday, October 10, 2019, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. in the HEB Performance Hall. The DIA award is presented to an Artist, Organization or Individual who has provided enduring and effective cultural leadership, displayed exceptional artistic accomplishments and/or has made a significant contribution and impact to the San Antonio arts community. The awards have recognized 16 honorees over the past 3 years (2015, 2016, 2017). The evening will include live performances and readings in celebration of the award recipients followed by a reception. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and will be available through the Tobin Center box office.
This year, eight honorees will be recognized for their outstanding achievements in and contributions to arts and culture in San Antonio. For the first time, this year’s program includes a culinary arts category.
The 2019 Distinction in the Arts honorees are:
Arts Administration: Graciela Sanchez
Graciela Sanchez has spent decades as an arts and community activist and has been a force for the preservation and cultural history of San Antonio’s near Westside. She co-founded the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in 1987 and under her leadership, the Esperanza has organized events and programming for diverse audiences that have focused on social issues and cultural heritage.
Arts Patronage: Harriet O. Kelley
Harriet O. Kelley has been active in San Antonio’s arts community since the early 1980’s. She has worked tirelessly to ensure African American artists are represented in major art museums in San Antonio and around the world. The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art has donated and lent pieces to Museums around the world.
Culinary Arts (Two Recipients): La Familia Cortez and Bruce Auden
La Familia Cortez Restaurants began in 1941 when founder and family patriarch Pedro Cortez purchased a fledgling café in San Antonio’s Market Square. With family recipes and a dedication to customer service, that humble beginning planted a seed that has grown into some of the most iconic restaurants in San Antonio, as well as the cornerstone of the city’s Historic Market Square and the heartbeat of Latino culture in the Alamo City. The family has been a strong supporter of the Latino arts community.
Chef Bruce Auden is a leader in the culinary industry, not to be measured by popularity and celebrity status, but within a framework of his contribution to the evolution of San Antonio’s culinary arts. Seven James Beard Foundation Best Chef - Southwest Award nominations are a testament of admiration by his peers. Equally importantly, Auden kitchens have served as place where culinary stars are born - nurturing top San Antonio chefs.
Literary Arts: Jim LaVilla-Havelin
Jim LaVilla-Havelin is a working poet, teacher, and community arts activist and organizer, whose tireless commitment to his craft and to nurturing the craft in others, has made an appreciable difference in the lives of writers, students, and those institutions which celebrate the literary arts. For many years, he has led San Antonio’s national poetry month efforts.
Music: Las Tesoros de San Antonio
Las Tesoros de San Antonio are a group of elder women who grew up in the Westside of San Antonio and whose incredible singing careers soared both locally and internationally in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These women reemerged and joined artistic forces to preserve Mexican and bicultural musical expressions through their singing and storytelling. Although Janet Cortez and Rita Vidaurri have passed, Blanca Rodriguez and Beatriz Llamas continue to perform.
Performing Arts: George Cisneros
George Cisneros is a composer and technology artist, and co-founder and director of music and media at URBAN-15. He is a long-time proponent of experimental and community-based artworks utilizing interactive electronics, video, sound, and performance. Through Cisneros’ teaching and compositions, he has engaged thousands in discovering their own creative expression.
Visual Arts: Kathy Vargas
Kathy Vargas created her own style of photography in 1970. Vargas has been described as a Chicana artist but her oeuvre goes beyond race, class, or gender. Her work has dealt with death and loss, life and hope, and sexuality and identity. She has led programs at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, teaches at the University of the Incarnate Word.