100+ students honored at Sonoran Arts League “Celebration of Art” awards ceremony

CAVE CREEK – More than 400 people packed the Cactus Shadows High School Fine Arts Center on March 26 to cheer on more than 100 talented 3rd to 12th grade students who were recognized for their outstanding achievements in visual arts during the Sonoran Arts League’s 28th Annual Celebration of Art and the 44th Jeff Cross Memorial.

Sponsored by the Sonoran Arts League, Cave Creek Unified School District’s Educational Community Service, Steve and Lori Greenberg, and the Kiwanis Club of Carefree, the event included students from five CCUSD elementary, middle, and high schools as well as students from Annunciation Catholic School and Cave Creek Montessori.

Ceramic artist Robin Ray, Sonoran Arts League Youth Art Chair, greeted guests, explaining the League has had a long history of honoring and empowering young, talented artists.

“The Sonoran Arts League is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and youth arts education has always been a big part of our mission. This event alone has changed the lives of more than 4,000 students over the years,” Ray said.

Mixed media painter Judy Bruce, who has helped coordinate the event for 20 years, said art is critical to mankind.

“With technology taking over our lives, the handmade, the beautifully crafted, the expressive, the authentic, the creative, the empathetic, are the essence of what art teaches and what art is and that makes us human,” Bruce said.

During the event, students were recognized by their teachers on stage. Each student received a gift bag of art supplies provided by the Sonoran Arts League to nurture their creative spirit over the summer.

Surprised and Overjoyed by Bronze Bell Award

The inspirational awards ceremony culminated with the presentation of the prestigious 44th Annual Jeff Cross Bronze Bell Award. Cross was a bronze artist and a founding member of the Cave Creek Craft Council, which later became the Sonoran Arts League. Cactus Shadows High School senior Maya Camas, of Cave Creek, was called to the stage and presented with the beautiful bell and given accolades for her colored pencil self-portrait, “Bird’s Eye View.”

“I was surprised and absolutely overjoyed to have been honored with such an award,” Maya Camas said. “I am grateful to the Sonoran Arts League for playing an enormous role in my art journey. Since I was first named the top prize winner in 6th grade at this event, I’ve seen one lucky senior be awarded with the Jeff Cross Memorial Bell every year. I always dreamed one day it could be me!”

To learn more, visit sonoranartsleague.org or call 480-575-6624.