Five Local Artists Win Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Fellowship Award

Ninth year of award recognizes exceptional visual, performing and literary artists

May 7, 2018

Five Local Artists Win Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Fellowship Award

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Santa Monica Cultural Affairs announces the winners of its annual Artist Fellowship program. The Artist Fellowship program is among the most robust, city-based, individual artist support grants in the U.S. and consists of two $20,000 Fellowships and three $4,200 Artist Project Fellowship awards.

Each year, local Santa Monica-based artist are selected to receive these awards. This year for the first time, an artist team has been selected for one of the awards. John Malpede & Henriëtte Brouwers, Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the Los Angeles Poverty Department performance art group will receive one $20,000 fellowship. The second $20,000 fellowship has been awarded to artist Renée Petropoulos, whose public sculpture Bouquet (Flower Girl) Between Libya, the United States and Scotland is familiar to City residents who frequent Ocean Avenue near Olympic Drive. The three local artists who will receive $4,200 Artist Project Fellowships are: choreographer Suchi Branfman, novelist Laila Lalami, and playwright Tanya White.

“To be honored by this generous fellowship sponsored by the City of Santa Monica in support of my work as an artist is overwhelming,” said Petropoulos. “I will be able to realize ongoing and new projects that I only imagined completing. First, to have a studio in the city near my home, and now, support for my work - this is extraordinary.”

Now in its ninth year, the Artist Fellowship program recognizes artistic excellence, nourishes the production of new work from the world-class visions and voices of Santa Monica’s rich diversity, and reinforces our community’s high regard for creativity and innovation.

The program launched in 2010 as a complement to the City’s arts organizational grant programs, in accordance with Creative Capital, the City’s cultural plan. Award amounts are designed to have impact in an arts community that must survive in the context of the City’s high cost of living. The 38 (and counting) recipients of the award are among the City’s most creative and innovative artists. Past recipients include filmmaker Meena Nanji; visual artists Lita Albuquerque, Alex Donis and Phyllis Green; choreographers Rudy Perez and Christine Suarez; theatre/film auteur Patrick Kennelly; novelists Mark Sarvas and Charles Yu; and many others.

A panel of three arts professionals recommended the awardees to the Santa Monica Arts Commission for their approval. The panelists were Japanese-American Cultural and Community Center Artistic Director Hirozaku Kosaka, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and Barnsdall Park Director Isabelle Lutterodt, and Asuka Hisa, Director of Learning and Engagement at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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Henriëtte Brouwers is a performer, director, teacher and producer and has been the Associate Director and Producer of Los Angeles Poverty Department since 2000. She was a collaborator/producer on RFK in EKY, a community-based re-enactment of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 trip to Kentucky to investigate poverty in the Appalachia. She is featured in artist Bill Viola’s renowned The Passions series. She performed her solo, La lengua, the tongue of Cortès, both in the US and the Netherlands and directed a series of performances based on Mexican legends. Henriëtte received a HOTHOUSE project grant from UCLA’s WAC department to research the legend of La Loba through drawing, movement and singing.

John Malpede directs, performs, and engineers multi-event projects that have installation, public art, theatrical, and education components. In 1985, he founded Los Angeles Poverty Development (LAPD), a performance group comprised primarily of homeless and formerly homeless people who make art, live, and work on Skid Row. He has produced projects working with communities throughout the US, as well as in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Bolivia. His 2004 work RFK in EKY sought to recreate Robert Kennedy’s 1968 “war on poverty” tour in the course of a four-day, 200-mile series of events focused on historic and current issues and social policy. As a 2008-2009 fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Malpede developed Bright Futures in response to the worldwide financial crisis. In 2013, John Malpede received the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and, in 2014, the Queens Museum of Art in New York City mounted the first retrospective gallery exhibition on the work of the LAPD, which traveled to the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena in 2016.

Renée Petropoulos has created projects and exhibited internationally. Most recently embarking on the project Among Nations (Mostly) with a performance Analogue (2012) at the MAK, Venice to Venice (2012) as part of the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. and Women in Surrealism for LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Her recent film, Two or Three Things I Know About Gas Station Mini Marts screened at Screening, in Philadelphia. The outdoor public sculpture project Bouquet (Flower Tower) Between Egypt, India, Iraq, the United States, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Mexico, situated in Santa Monica, was completed in spring, 2014. Petropoulos’ monument drawings were also included in Forms of the Formless at Beijing Moca, curated by Marlena Donahue. From the United States to Mexico/ From Mexico to the Untied States, was presented at Commonwealth and Council, which included a choreographed performance. In 2016, a CD of sound work, Between Libya, the United States and Scotland, created with composer Greg Lenczycki, was released. In 2016, Petropoulos also produced a work with the Isaura String Quartet and a “reading of sculpture,” Cheek by Jowl, at Hauser Wirth Schimmel. In 2018, she will be producing a project in conjunction with the MUAC in Oaxaca, Mexico as well as being a guest artist at the Palm Springs Museum.


Suchi Branfman has worked nationally and internationally as a performer, choreographer, dance educator, and activist. Suchi's work has received national and international acclaim and has received support from numerous arts funders, including National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, New York State Council for the Arts, and Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. She is a former Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica and currently teaches modern dance technique, improvisation and repertory at Scripps.

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of the novels Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist; and The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was on the Man Booker Prize longlist and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies. She writes the “Between the Lines” column for The Nation magazine and is a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Santa Monica Artist Fellowship, and she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Tanya White is a writer and performer. She wrote and produced the play LANA/SMOKING, which was a late-night favorite of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She is a frequent contributor to story-telling and literary shows around town including, BUSted! Stories of Getting Around LA Told by People Who Don't Drive, WRITE CLUB Los Angeles and Library Girl. As a member of Santa Monica Repertory Theater company, she is writer/actor and a director. She was invited to join the company after submitting a performance poem Oh! Santa Monica and writing, acting and produce BIG BLUE RIDE, a show about riding the Big Blue Bus. Tanya is passionate about language and history and relishes the opportunity to build on the work she's begun with 7 CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SLAVERY. Tanya has a BFA in Acting from Webster University and is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles.

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