Pizarro: Supporting emerging artists in Santa Clara County


Sheila Townsend, left, Jules Pollifrone, center, and Kenneth Ronquillo arethe recipients of the fifth annual Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards, which were presented Oct. 11, 2017, in downtown San Jose. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

I was honored to have a role Wednesday in the fifth annual Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards, which is one of my favorite events of the year. In honor of my predecessor in this space, the Rotary Club of San Jose awards unrestricted $5,000 grants to creative talents from Santa Clara County who have yet to hit it big.

Sheila Townsend, left, Jules Pollifrone, center, and Kenneth Ronquillo are
the recipients of the fifth annual Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards,
which were presented Oct. 11, 2017, in downtown San Jose. (Sal Pizarro/Bay
Area News Group)

The idea — launched by Steve Borkenhagen, Stewart Slater and Bob Rauh, with the blessing of Leigh’s wife, Geri Weimers — was to shine a spotlight on emerging artists the way Leigh did throughout his 40-year career as a columnist. And for some recipients, like jazz vocalist Jackie Gage, the award has been a launching pad for stellar careers in the arts.

I’ve got high hopes as well for this year’s winners, who were selected from a pool of more than 80 applicants. (While I chaired this year’s program and emceed Wednesday’s presentation at the San Jose Rotary Club, I’m not involved in the selection process.)

The awards were presented to Jules Pollifrone, a 19-year-old South Bay singer who is working on her second album. She’s releasing a single, “Eyes Shut,” next month and previewed it for the audience Wednesday; Kenneth Ronquillo, a San Jose artist who began a unique artistic collaboration with his grandmother, “Lola” in Tagalog, in 2014. She passed away last December, but he’s vowed to finish all the paintings they started together; and Sheila Townsend, a musical theater performer and vocal coach with strong comedic chops. She’s bringing a solo show to City Lights Theater …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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