The Brighton Cultural Arts Commission is pleased to announce its 2023 Excellence in Arts Awards winners: BrightonMusic Choir and Orchestra, Jan Hepp-Struck, Kathy and Ed Hansen, Judd Farner, Elena Guerrero Townsend, MJ McCafferty, and Sue Corbett.
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 Oct. 18 at Eagle View Adult Center, 1150 Prairie View Parkway. The dessert bar and entertainment begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. To RSVP, please contact Sue Corbett at 303-655-2076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 16.
2023 Excellence in Arts Award winners:
BrightonMusic Choir and Orchestra, Master of Performing Arts (This category is open to individuals or groups who are filmmakers, dancers, actors/actresses, directors or musicians.): In the 1980s, a group of string musicians formed “String Colors,” which was an opportunity for adult musicians to come together and perform throughout the community. With the success of this group, others wanted the opportunity to perform, and BrightonMusic Orchestra was born under the direction of Kat McCusker. Currently there are about 30 members who perform four concerts yearly. Smaller groups within BrightonMusic Orchestra have also formed, and they include BrightonJazz, Trillseekers, and Brighton Brass. In 1997, Bonnie Simcox and Marlys Harp formed a community choir made up of church choirs from the Brighton area, which performed Christmas concerts. From that, BrightonMusic Choir was born. Today the Choir is going strong under the leadership of Deanna Marcy.
Jan Hepp-Struck, Master of Visual Arts (This category is open to photographers, painters, potters, sculptors, and jewelry designers.): Jan’s profession is real estate, however, her passion is photography. Her love of taking pictures began when she picked up a Polaroid camera in high school. The ability to capture the beauty of something with the push of a button and watch it appear almost instantly sparked an interest that has since blossomed. In the nomination submitted by Amanda Griffin, she wrote, “While Jan considers herself a hobby photographer, it’s not a reflection of her skill nor of her natural eye for composition and beauty.” Other than her family members, Jan’s favorite photography genres are astrophotography, landscape, macro flowers, and wildlife. At last year’s Excellence in Arts ceremony, copies of one of Jan’s photographs were given to our honorees. In 2011, Jan wondered if she would be able to continue her hobby when she was diagnosed with a progressive disease that attacks the cornea. The doctor told her she would eventually lose her vision if she did not have cornea transplants. Jan went ahead with the surgeries, and both were successful. As a result of the transplants, the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank has asked her to participate in their annual Circle of Light Photo Project, which she has done with the proceeds of her sales going towards research on vision loss. Local writer Amanda Griffin wrote an article about Jan’s story of triumph over physical adversity, which has been published many times in magazines around the United States.
Kathy and Ed Hansen, Beyond Brighton (This category is open to an individual, group, or business from outside our community who has strengthened our community’s cultural arts.): Kathy and Ed have continually been involved in the arts in Adams County, Brighton and Westminster. They work tirelessly, volunteering for the Paletteers Art Group serving as the vice president and secretary. Setting up art shows in Brighton, Westminster at Front Range Community College and the Adams County Fair also keeps this couple quite busy. Ed is a very talented artist who has won numerous local and out-of-state awards as well as teaching many classes at Main Street Gallery. Their work is shown at the Gallery.
Judd Farner, 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.): Judd is the theater arts teacher at Riverdale Ridge High School in 27J, where he started the program six years ago. On average, 50-60 students have participated in each of the more than 14 productions ranging from “Cinderella” to “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” and the ever popular “Little Shop of Horrors.” Many of Judd’s productions focus on the students being in charge of every aspect. Judd stated, “I believe kids now need adults who build them up to share their take on the world.” Judd teaches theater “because it is the place I found my voice and my opportunity to belong in a community.” In addition to his productions, Judd also teaches Theater I, II, Auditioned Theater, Foundations of Design, Technical Theater, and Stage Production Management.
Elena Guerrero Townsend, Master of Literary Arts (This category is open to writers of various genres.): Elena Guerrero Townsend is the author of Latina poems and short stories. Currently she is working on a chapter book, Little Adobe House, and spends her time sharing her writing around the greater Denver area. Elena has been invited to read at the University of Northern Colorado’s annual Mexican American Art Festival, at Aims College’s Day of the Dead celebration, History Colorado, Art in the Park, Fiesta en la Plaza in Greeley, and at the Brighton Armory for CHAC’s Day of the Dead event where she was also the Master of Ceremonies. In her poem “For the love of art,” Elena writes, “Because of artists, we get to see other dimensions we’d otherwise not see or envision. We get to dance with sugar skulls and flutter with Monarch butterflies. We get to hold lovely bouquets of lilies in our hands.” This prolific writer also has another side to her: she has been a train operator, a conductor, and a locomotive engine. Elena has many talents that she shares with our community.
MJ McCafferty, Outstanding Volunteer in Cultural Arts (This category is open to an individual who has devoted time, talent and service to enhance the cultural experience in Brighton): MJ is a volunteer extraordinaire. She is a studio artist at Main Street Gallery and volunteers countless hours for all its events, workshops and classes. At Main Street Gallery she makes sure the outside of the building looks inviting by filling pots with flowers and she does the weeding. In the winter, MJ shovels the snow. As a member of Heritage Todd Creek Arts Group, MJ prepares the club house for monthly art walks and seasonal art shows. Another group in which she volunteers is the Paletteers Arts Club, giving her time and talents at the club’s events, demonstrations and shows. MJ is also active in community organizations: attending the Brighton Chamber of Commerce meetings, Good Neighbor Food Delivery Program at Todd Creek and charity golf tournaments.
Sue Corbett, Visionary (This category is open to an individual, group, or business who has been a leader in the Brighton cultural arts scene.): What doesn’t Sue do and do well? Even though Sue works full time as the manager of Eagle View Adult Center, for many years she has been involved in the cultural arts scene in Brighton. For many years she was the staff liaison to the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, where she oversaw projects, budgeting, the acquisition of public art, ArtFest and securing SCFD funding. In her role as manager of the adult center, she encourages vibrant programming for senior adults in fine arts, crafts, and life arts. Sue is invaluable to the Excellence in Arts committee as she brings a historical perspective to our awards and works tirelessly on the event.