Santa Cruz County Arts Commission
The mission of the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission is to promote, expand and plan for the cultural life of Santa Cruz County and to bring artists and arts organizations together with government for the benefit of all the citizens of the County.
Meets six times each year, generally on a Monday from 4:30-6 P.M.
Simpkins Family Swim Center
979 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meetings will be virtual through at least June 2021. Please click on the "meeting agenda'" tab just below for the next meeting's agenda, which includes information on how to join the meeting using Microsoft Teams.
Have a question? Send us an email.
Upcoming Commission Meetings in 2021, all virtual, from 4:30-6:00 PM : May 3; July 12, Sept. 20, Nov. 8
Arts Commission Members
Amy was born and raised in Ohio. She moved out at age 16 to attend the Art Institute of Phoenix with a focus on computer animation. After graduation she worked as a graphic artist for a magazine and later as a technical illustrator at Amgen. Her career took a turn in 2004 when she was hired by a local Private Investigation Firm that was based out of La Selva Beach. She has since been working for the County of Santa Cruz since 2009. Her current position is County Supervisor’s Analyst for First District Supervisor Manu Koenig. She always searches for opportunities to express her creative side including painting, taking classes for ornamental ironworking and welding at Cabrillo College. She applied to be a member of the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission to feed her love of arts while also supporting the local arts community.
Cat Willis is the Founder and Executive Director of the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center located in Santa Cruz/San Francisco Bay Area. She is originally from Rochester, N.Y., where she began her dance education with Garth Fagan Dance, with whom she studied extensively for six years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance from SUNY Brockport. Cat has served on the Arts Council of Santa Cruz Grants Advisory Committee, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz grants panel, and County Park Friends Advisory Committee. She received the 2014 Gail Rich Award for her excellence in arts leadership in Santa Cruz County. Her cross cultural studies and work in the dance arts have led her to West Africa and Jamaica, where she lectures at the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.
Cat's dedication to racial justice and equity spans a lifetime of education, community organizing, and activism through the platform of arts and culture. She was the 418 Project's 2009 Artist in Residence and the Theatre Bay Area's CA$H grant recipient in dance for her evening-length dance production Diaspora, Food for Thought: Roots, Ritual, Re-imagined; an exploration of ancestral wisdom, racial trauma, and a re-imagined Black Diaspora in the American experience. She is a founding member of the Santa Cruz County Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity and is founding director of the Black Health Matters Initiative alongside community partners; County Park Friends, United Way of, NAACP Santa Cruz Chapter, Blended Bridge, and the SCC Black Coalition for Justice and Racial Equity. She currently sits on the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County RISE Together leadership circle and and Santa Cruz County's Commission on Anti-Racism, Economic and Social (CARES) Justice.
Joanna was born and raised in Fresno, California. She graduated from Cal State University Fresno, majoring in Speech Communication. She went back to school to do graduate work in Education of the Deaf, working in the local school district as a teacher. In 1972 Joanna moved to San Jose and began a new career in Real Estate. After successfully owning a Century 21 franchise from 1980 – 1986, she began her training career by becoming the Director of Recruiting and Training for Better Homes and Gardens in San Jose until 2000. When she got a call from Robert Bailey, the CEO of Bailey Properties in Santa Cruz, CA to inquire if she would like the same job in Santa Cruz, and live in her beach house, the answer was YES! Power Training was born and Bailey Properties continues to be the field-testing facility for all updates to this course.
Joanna is a mother and the grandmother of Sara. Joanna enjoys spending time at the beach, playing with Sara and traveling. Joanna served on the City of San Jose Art Commission from 1996-2002. This experience gave her a great deal of background on the arts programs in the City of San Jose. She also has performed both in theater and as a motivational speaker. She joined the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission in the hopes her past experience would be of benefit to the residents of Santa Cruz County.
I have been an artist for 22 years, and enjoy working in a variety of media and processes including sculpting in stone, casting in bronze and glass; printmaking; fabric collage; and painting with acrylic, oil and encaustics. As a volunteer, I have curated and co-curated twelve visual art exhibits for the Pajaro Valley Arts Council: served as a mentor to other curators; and have served as a Gallery Committee member for PVAC for nine years. For the past three years, I have co-curated (for PVAC) exhibitions of sculpture for an outdoor venue at Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens. This exhibit was pivotal to my interest in public art. As a result, I applied to be a member of the Public Arts Commission.
As a teacher and founder Santa Cruz Children's School the arts and children have been central to my life for many years. Taught sculpture, pastel, watercolor, and silk painting. Directing and producing children's theater has been a passion. Integrating art, expression, and beauty are essential to a healthy happy life. I live in Aptos and am inspired by the beauty of our area. Artists, musician, poets,dancers and actors enrich our community life. Supporting creativity in all of its forms is my motivation in serving on the Arts Commission. The Commission advocates for public funds to create artistic opportunity in our county. I am proud to be a member!
Cynthia has lived in Santa Cruz County for 33 years, has been a self employed realtor for 23 years. She attended Weber College of Nursing and University of San Francisco B.S.O.B.
Serving the Muse - Cynthia served as board president for the San Francisco Pickle Family Circus, Tandy Beal & Company for 9 years. She is currently a director and previously served as marketing VP for the Santa Cruz County Symphony. Cynthia is a founding board member of the Aptos Academy, a director for the past 14 years. As part of the Monterey Symphonic Chorus, she has traveled to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of IONA, seat of Celtic Spirituality; in summer 2009, the chorus sang at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. for President Obama.
Serving Community - During the summer months, Cynthia serves as a nurse, part of a medical/dental team at Little Flock orphanage in Southern India . She walked 350 miles across Northern Spain on a pilgrimage - The Camino Santiago de Campostella - in 2004. She climbed Wayan Picchu, the mountain near Macchu Picchu, Peru in 2005. Cynthia worked as a loan executive to the United Way of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties for five years during her 17-year career with Pacific Bell. Cynthia was part of a Katrina Animal rescue team, rescuing 100 animals flown into Monterey Airport from Iberia, Louisiana, helped care and transport them to a shelter facility in Santa Cruz.
Serving Family - Cynthia has 3 great adult children. Melanie is an artist, a comedian with Second City, has an MBA and is working on her PhD. Adam served as an army ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan; he is now a Los Angeles County firefighter. Ashley graduated from Menlo College in Atherton. CA, manages a medical office, and has a California Real Estate License.
In addition to serving on the County Arts Commission, Paul serves on the City of Watsonville Public Art Commission. He owns and operates a small business in Watsonville, Monterey Bay Murals. For over seven years he has been a Behavior Technician, working with Autistic students in a special day class at Rolling Hills Middle School for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. Paul recently completed a mural at Rolling Hills, “Maya Time,” which is in the style of a mandala; more on this mural and others that he has worked on can be seen at: www.montereybaymurals.com.
Paul, a lifelong resident of Watsonville, is a graduate of Watsonville High School, a graduate of Cabrillo College with an Associated Arts Degree, and a Cal State University of Monterey Bay (CSUMB) graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Visual and Public Art, with an emphasis in Mural Painting and Arts Education. Currently, he is in the Cal State Teach Program at CSUMB where he is working on obtaining his certification in teaching multiple subjects. His goal is to receive a Masters in Arts and Arts Education and, if possible, a P.H. D in art. Paul is honored to serve on the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission. His vision is to beautify the city of Watsonville, along with the County of Santa Cruz and the world, through art. He believes in making art accessible and affordable for all to see and experience, and he values public interests and ideas that pertain to art and beautifying our environment.
Though born in Hollywood, I moved with my family to Cupertino when my father was transferred by Lockheed to its new facility in Sunnyvale. I worked 32 years at Lockheed in the Computer Information field and retired in mid-2002. I earned a B.A in Bus Admin / CIS (Computer Information Systems) from California State University at San Jose and a MBA in CIS / Project Mgmt from Golden Gate University. I purchased a home in Boulder Creek in March 1990 and never looked back.
I became a member of the Boulder Creek Historical Society in 1996 and was Secretary / Treasurer when it was purchasing property to establish its museum permanently. In January 2003 I became the Executive Director of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum.
As Executive Director I have worked with my Board to incorporate many positive changes in the fundraising, operation, and partnering with the local community and other non-profits. I was involved with listing the San Lorenzo Valley Museum church building on the National Register of Historic Places and changing the 501C3 name from Boulder Creek Historical Society to San Lorenzo Valley Historical Society. I was a founding member and Chair of the Santa Cruz County Museums Partnership, which included 32 museums and art galleries in its initial year and grew. I have worked with the San Lorenzo Valley staff to partner with artists for an annual art exhibit on the Community Wall located at the Santa Cruz County Government building.
I am the Chair of the Santa Cruz County Historic Resources Commission and am very excited to be a member of the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.
In 1983, one year after earning my Master of Fine Arts degree from UC Berkeley, I left my hometown and moved to Santa Cruz. Those of us who live here know what a special place Santa Cruz County is. I am very grateful to call it home. Nature has always been the primary inspiration for my artwork. Images of our county’s abundant natural world fill my paintings, drawings and prints. For all my adult life, I have taught art, the past twenty-two years at community colleges. I am on the faculties at Monterey Peninsula College and West Valley College where I teach painting, drawing, watercolor, 2D design and color design. Teaching art, connecting with people through art and watching their minds open in ways that only art can make happen, is the most rewarding job I could hope for. My home and workspace are in the Artspace Tannery Lofts where I am among the building’s first tenants, a group that bonded while camping out in November 2008 to assure that we each got a place in the new live-work development.
This past fall and winter, with the support of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, I organized a series of Tannery Talks with the theme of Art and Identity. Based on the 2010-13 Tannery Arts Lecture Series the new series emphasized the role of the arts in social justice. A second season is in the works for 2019-20.
I am proud to join the Arts Commission and to be a part of bringing more art into the public space and recognizing the valuable contribution that Santa Cruz County artists make to our quality of life.