Article in regional magazine highlighting my book "Warrior a Spiritual Odyssey". Book Review.
Fall of 2018 article on all of my writing and books. Focus on the newest book "Alchemy of a Warrior's Heart"
Two page coverage on the Iris Award Ceremony presented by the City of Elk Grove. I was one of the honored ones to receive an award. Mine was for recognition of my literary achievements.
Follow-up story related to the awards. Judy Tafoya - one of those who got recognized passed away a couple of weeks later.
A salute to the local arts
Elk Grove Arts Commission to present Iris Awards
• By Monica Stark Citizen contributor
The city of Elk Grove Arts Commission’s inaugural Iris Awards will honor Elk Grove residents who are making contributions to the arts within the Elk Grove community.
Awards will be presented to the following individuals in the following categories: Gerry Simpson, visual arts; Gary Mendoza, performing arts; Bill McDonald, literary; Judy Tafoya, patron of the arts; and Iris and Arnie Zimbelman, lifetime achievement.
The ceremony will take place Friday, Nov. 2, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Elk Grove Regional Park Pavilion, 9950 Elk Grove-Florin Road.
The arts commission, whose mission is to promote art and artists in the community, decided to name the awards after the late Iris Zimbelman, who with the support of her husband, Arnie Zimbelman, created the first major art event in Elk Grove, the Elk Grove Strauss Festival. They also spearheaded the construction of the dance stage at Strauss Island in Elk Grove Regional Park.
“Arnie will be there to accept the award. Iris would be very happy to know the award is named after her,” Arts Commission Chair Nan Mahon said.
It was in the early 1980, when the Zimbelmans were traveling in Austria and watching waltz performances in Vienna’s Stadtpark, that Iris conceived the idea of bringing Johann Strauss’s music to Elk Grove.
She returned home, organized a board of directors and in 1985 began a two-year quest to present the first Strauss Festival, which took place in 1987. She secured county funds for a permanent performing arts center in Elk Grove Park – Strauss Island.
Iris was involved in many other community activities, always with the support of her husband, who built many of the Strauss sets in use today.
“It was their perseverance not only in starting such a big event, but that they kept it going for 31 years is amazing,” Mahon said.
Iris Award recipients are required to have lived for five years or more in Elk Grove, be full-time professionals in their fields of art, have developed a body of work with media recordings and clippings to prove it, have won other awards, and have used their art to help or mentor others in Elk Grove.
“We hope the awardees will gain recognition for their work and inspire others,” Mahon said.
To that end, she hopes attendees recognize art as a profession and there are artists in Elk Grove who are “doing really polished and good things.”
Self-taught artist and photographer, Gerry Otis Simpson, aka GOS”, paints vibrant, colorful scenarios that are positive characterizations of the African American experience and the world around him along with brilliantly colored abstracts.
The lack of African American representation in the visual arts inspired Simpson to create his very own original imagery.Artwork by Simpson has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions in numerous venues throughout the region. He opened a space of his own in Sacramento’s Del Paso Heights neighborhood called, GOS” Art Gallery Studio.
Currently, he is creating denim fashion pieces while continuing his visual arts.
“I am about to go into my 20th year of creating art in the Sacramento region in 2019, so the Iris Award is a complete honor and humbling experience … I am still blown away and will be further blown out of the park at the event,” Simpson said.
Local musician Gary Mendoza earned an award for his work in live theater.
In 2013, the Citizen named Mendoza 2013 Artist of the Year after he produced the city’s first free concert-musical, “A Musical History of the Blues” at Sheldon High School. The production used local professional and student musicians to tell the story of blues music and its influence on rock ‘n’ roll.
“His voice and personality on stage makes for the performance. He has one of the better voices in the blues world,” Mahon said. Mendaoza’s influences include blues musicians Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and Otis Spann.
Bill McDonald’s life has been a spiritual journey, spanning slightly more than seven decades in search of gurus, the paranormal, and self-discovery. He has written about his many spiritually transformative experiences and “near-death experiences,” including supernatural events during his combat tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
His autobiography, “Warrior a Spiritual Odyssey” takes readers on a life quest for love, understanding, forgiveness and enlightenment. His follow-up book, “Alchemy of a Warrior’s Heart,” continues that mystical journey, including four trips to India for even more profound experiences. A decorated Vietnam War veteran, he is involved in many pursuits, including poetry, art and veteran advocacy. He has spoken around the world – including in Germany, England, Wales, Bolivia and India – and has been involved in a dozen films and documentaries.
While not an artist herself, Judy Tafoya created The Arts Advocacy Project (TAAP), which is devoted to promoting the arts. TAAP sponsors artist mixers and forums in support of Elk Grove’s emerging arts community. Last March, TAAP organized its ARTSbeat Arts Expo, a month-long calendar of arts events in Elk Grove.
She has worked to get more public art and boost the Elk Grove Unified School District’s arts curriculum. She has also helped organize the monthly Jazz & Blues Vespers at Elk Grove Presbyterian Church.
“She’s done a lot to bring attention to Elk Grove,” Mahon said. “Judy is selfless. It’s about the art and not about her.”
Celebrating Achievements in the Arts
Friday, November 2
Elk Grove Park Pavilion
9950 Elk Grove-Florin Rd., Elk Grove, CA 95624
Free Admission - Refreshments
Inaugural Iris Awards Recipients
Gerry Simpson, Visual Arts
Gary Mendoza, Performing Arts
Bill McDonald, Literary Arts
Judy Tafoya, Patron of the Arts
Iris and Arnie Zimbelman, Lifetime Achievement
~~ The Arts Advocacy Project, Inc/Elk Grove
Old video on Sacramento's KCRA Channel 3 Evening News
My friend Shadoe Stevens called just to wish me a happy birthday and left this funny message on my iPhone.
A Promotional Video for the Workshop on the Big Island of Hawaii
Music video for film "In the Shadow of the Blade" 2004
The Art of Healing - a joint VA/PBS TV undertaking on PTSD. The VA controlled the editing and production and you will see that it is not very diverse and not too politically correct - however, they did highlight my PTSD Protocols for using art as a healing factor for PTSD in veterans. This was filmed in February 2005 in snowy Michigan - just two days after I had a heart procedure done in California . In spite of my lack of energy and health issues I went ahead and finished this film.