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City of Brighton Press Releases

Posted on: October 8, 2021

Brighton Cultural Arts Commission announces 2021 Excellence in Arts Awards winners


The Brighton Cultural Arts Commission has selected the following winners for its 2021 Excellence in Arts Awards: Jo Pinto, Chris Romero, Wilma Rose, Sydney VanderWal, Stephanie Brown and Dolly Garcia. 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 at the October 19 City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall (500 S. 4th Avenue.).

Due to weather concerns, the plans for that evening have been moved to the basement of City Hall where seating will be available for attendees. There will be entertainment and refreshments.  

Read below for more about the 2021 Excellence in Arts Awards winners: 

Jo Pinto - Master of Fine Arts (This category is open to photographers, painters, potters, sculptors, jewelry designers and authors.): Author Jo Pinto was raised in Brighton and graduated with exceptional grades despite being blind. Pinto’s first book, “The Bright Side of Darkness,” published in 2015, is a story of redemption and ultimate victory, and won a first place Indie Book Award for inspirational fiction and also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Pinto published her second book this year, titled “Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark.” Pinto gives book talks around the area and her books are available on Pinto also serves on the Brighton Historic Preservation Committee and the Diversity Council.

Chris Romero - Master of Performing Arts (This category is open to individuals or groups who are filmmakers, dancers, actors/actresses, directors or musicians.): Actor and musician Chris Romero a.k.a. “Romero” is a Colorado native born and raised in Brighton and has been part of the Denver music scene for almost 20 years. Romero has been part of several bands and movies over the years including the bands SICK, Drug Under and Romero and the movies “Halloween 2”by Rob Zombie and “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.” Romero is happily married with four kids. 

Wilma Rose - Visionary (An individual, group or business who has been a leader in the Brighton cultural arts scene.): Wilma Rose serves the local art community in many ways - She’s currently president of the Brighton Public Art Committee, vice president of the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission and member of the Sculpture on Loan Committee, Eye for Art Committee, Public Art Committee and Brighton Music Choir. Rose is a past member of Brighton City Council and also served on the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) Selection Committee.

Sydney VanderWal - Master of Cultural Arts in Education (An educator who has offered some form of creative arts activity to the youth within our community.): Sydney VanderWal has been with 27J Schools for many years and at Innovations & Options for four years. She has taken on the role of mentor for the teachers and staff, as well as for the students she teaches. VanderWal is an artist who motivates students to do their best work and to search within themselves for their art. Students sing VanderWal’s praises, with a current student stating in part, “VanderWal is an amazing art teacher. She's more than just an art teacher. She never holds back students' creative ability and encourages non-art students to try art even if it isn't their strongest subject. She has always supported me and my progress with my art.”

Stephanie Brown - Outstanding Volunteer in Cultural Arts (An individual who has devoted time, talent and service to enhance the cultural experience in Brighton.) - Stephanie Brown was born and raised in Wichita. Kansas. Brown and her husband lived in Hudson, Massachusetts prior to retiring and moving to Brighton in 2010. Always interested in drawing as a child, art was Brown’s  favorite subject in school. Most of her creative outlets over the years were in the area of tole painting, furniture refinishing and any other hobby that caught her interest. She has taken oil painting classes at Main Street Creatives in downtown Brighton from both Judith Dickinson and Jeremiah White, and still works in this medium. Once Brown’s children were raised and off to college, she pursued her interest in glass art for 20 years and counting. Brown has participated in Art at the Armory, Art in The Park and Echter’s Glass Show in the fall and currently displays her glass creations at Main Street Gallery.

Dolly Garcia - Beyond Brighton (Open to an individual, group or business from outside our community who has strengthened our community’s cultural arts.) - Dolly Garcia is a “behind the scenes” worker who sees what needs to be done and works tirelessly to make that vision a reality. Two programs she has dedicated herself to have made a big difference in Brighton - one is the Platte Valley Players and the other is Readers Theatre at Eagle View Adult Center. Garcia is a founding member of the Platte Valley Players Board of Directors and has been the person who writes grants and works on funding for this community group. Garcia has also served on the Board of Directors in numerous positions, including president. In addition, she was actively involved in the community group that had a vision to create the Armory, serving on numerous committees and teams in the design of this incredible project. Platte Valley Players would not be what they are today without Garcia. 

For more information, please contact David Gallegos, Arts and Culture Coordinator, at or 303-655-2176.

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