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Carlos Fresquez, Artist Award Honoree

Roadrunner luminary receives recognition, $35,000 from Bonfils-Stanton Foundation for legacy of creative advocacy.

By Cory Phare

May 30, 2018

Carlos Fresquez Associate Professor of PaintingWhen Carlos Fresquez met with Museo de las Americas’ Maruca Salazar for lunch recently, the longtime Roadrunner had no idea he’d be joined by members of a selection committee, leaving the meal as a 2018 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artist Award Honoree – and with it, $35,000 to pursue whatever creative endeavor he’d like.

“I’m still in disbelief,” the alumnus and associate professor of art said about the surprise. “I was shaking, and my eyes started tearing up – what do you say to something like that but ‘thank you’?”

That the lunch took place on the Metropolitan State University of Denver campus is fitting. For four decades, Fresquez has been devoted to playing with the magic of color by painting the city – and empowering others to find their authentic voices to do the same.

“I try to inspire and engage my students, enabling them to produce meaningful works of art,” he said. “I am humbled watching them participate in what I feel is the spiritual act of painting.”

Fresquez will be formally honored by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation at an awards ceremony June 1 for his work exploring social issues while honoring cultural roots and values.

And while he has several thoughts on how he might put the award to use – travel to study art abroad, a studio space, community work – he’s focused now on the summer section of his popular course “Community Painting: The Mural,” in which students will adorn the exterior of the Curious Theatre at 11th and Acoma with their own visual truths.

Because for Fresquez, the reward is the work itself.

“Since 1987, I’ve tried to give to the community and have received so much back, sharing with youth and adults, those behind bars,” he said. “I feel so honored and grateful. Whatever comes from this, it’ll be something good – for the good.”

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