2022 Excellence in Arts Awards

The Brighton Cultural Arts Commission is pleased to announce its 2022 Excellence in Arts Awards winners! The winners are Sheri Farabaugh,  Julie Trujillo, Jamie Zerr-Lockwood, Paula Atkins, Rhonda Blackhurst, Natalie Beck, and Gary Wardle.


Because of Brighton’s vibrant and growing cultural arts community, the Commission created the awards to celebrate individuals and groups within Brighton who are cultural arts champions. These champions will be recognized with the Excellence in Arts Awards on February 9 at Eagle View Adult Center, 1150 Prairie View Pkwy. Light refreshments and entertainment begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the award ceremony at 7 pm. To RSVP, please contact David Gallegos at 303-655-2176 or email at dgallegos@brightonco.gov. by Feb. 1


Read below about the 2022 Excellence in Arts Award winners: 


Sheri Farabaugh - Master of Visual Arts - (This category is open to photographers, painters, potters, sculptors, and jewelry designers.): Sheri is an internationally recognized oil painter but prior to that she had careers in tax accounting and biochemistry.  She has won numerous awards including an Award of Merit in the Governor’s Show and an Award of Excellence from the American Women’s Artists. Sheri is a signature member of the American Women’s Artists, Oil Painters of America and the American Society of Marine Artists. She has been the featured cover artist on Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine and a feature artist in the International Artist Magazine. In her words, “I am drawn to bold values and intricate patterns of moving waters which led me to paint rivers, lakes, ponds, and puddles of the West and Midwest.”

Julie Trujillo - Master of Performing Arts - (This category is open to individuals or groups who are filmmakers, dancers, actors/actresses, directors or musicians.): Julie has always been a dancer.  Her studio Stage Images Dance-The Next Generation has been in operation since 2014; however, she began her first studio in 1986 when she started in the garage of her home with three students. Year by year the location of the studio changed, and the number of students grew and now has over 115 students. Stage Images is co-owned by Julie’s daughter Madeline, and they offer 38 different classes for students 2 ½ years old to adults. Julie is proud that her studio is a place of inclusion where the dancers can express themselves freely, and this is seen in her class “Inclusive Images” which is designed for youth with both physical and cognitive disabilities.  This class is tailored to meet the needs and abilities of the dancers and designed to build confidence. Julie’s dancers can be seen performing at many community events: most recently at the City of Brighton’s Art in the Park.

Jamie Zerr-Lockwood - Beyond Brighton - (This category is open to an individual, group, or business from outside our community who has strengthened our community’s cultural arts.): Jamie calls Bennett her home; however, the community of Brighton greatly benefits from her work as a very active volunteer and as an artist. Within our community she has participated in and volunteered for the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, Eye for Art, Art in the Park, the Armory Performing Arts shows, and the Excellence in Arts committee. Jamie connected with Adams County and coordinated with the Corridor Creative Arts League for members to show their work at the Taza Coffee Shop Gallery within the Adams County Government building. As an artist her eclectic style is a stand out. Jamie has also served as a mentor for new artists both in Brighton and in Bennett. 

Paula Atkins - Master of Cultural Arts in Education - (This category is open to an educator who has offered some form of creative arts activity to the youth within our community.): This category recognizes a teacher who provides cultural arts programs for students within School District 27J.  Paula is the art teacher at Northeast Elementary School, and in this role interacts with all the students in the school. In order to provide grade appropriate art projects, she comes in before school and stays after school in order to prepare for the students to work on a wide variety of projects using her own money to buy supplies. Paula knows every student by name, and as the school year comes to a close, she makes “art good-bye bags” so that her students can continue doing art during the summer.  As her nominator wrote, “She is incredible.”

Rhonda Blackhurst - Master of Literary Arts - (This category is open to someone who is a writer.): Rhonda said, “I can’t ever remember not writing- from an early age.” She began novel writing over 30 years ago and also worked for a local newspaper. Rhonda has always loved reading a good mystery, and that became the genre in which she chooses to write. She writes “cozy mysteries” which she described as mysteries “one would feel comfortable having one’s grandmother read with no gratuitous sex or violence.” Thus far, Rhonda has had ten books published: seven in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, a short story, two romantic suspense novels Finding Abby and Abby’s Redemption, a standalone called The Inheritance and a non-fiction story.  She is currently working on a series called The Spirit Lake Mysteries as well as a mystery short story “From the Darkness.” Rhonda created a publishing company Lighthouse that has a cover designer, an editor, a formatter, as well as beta readers. She attends many writing workshops and enjoys book signings and talks.

Natalie Beck - Volunteer of the Year - (This category is open to an individual who has devoted time, talent and service to enhance the cultural experience in Brighton): The Excellence in Arts Committee has Natalie Beck to thank for volunteering her time and talents taking the photographs of the award recipients since Excellence in Arts began. Natalie is a local photographer who can be seen capturing memories at many of the City’s events and taking pictures of high school seniors as well as family pictures. Natalie has also been very active in art-related committees such as Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, ArtFest, Art Awareness Committee, and the Excellence in Arts Committee. She also was instrumental in creating the Artist Salons which bring professional artists to Brighton offering free demonstrations.  We thank Natalie for taking pictures for the Excellence in Arts Awards.

Gary Wardle - Visionary - (This category is open to an individual, group, or business who has been a leader in the Brighton cultural arts scene.): For many years Gary was the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Brighton. In that role he left a wonderful legacy of spaces and programs for our entire community. However, upon his retirement, he did not stop from giving his expertise and vision to Brighton. One of the committees that he joined was the Brighton Public Art Committee. Gary has gone above and beyond while serving with this group. He initiated the Wells Fargo Wall Mural Project and is helping to acquire funds from SCFD, Lodging Tax, and the City.  Gary has also coordinated the placement of sculptures, working with the Parks and Recreation department to find bases, crews for installation and the time frame for the projects. Another big project for Gary is helping with plaques and QR codes for all the sculptures in the city.  One would never know that Gary has retired because of his very active involvement in the city’s art world.