SAN JOSE, CA—September 3, 2014— Four South Bay artists have been selected to receive the second annual Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. A program of the Rotary Club of San Jose, the awards honor the legacy of late San Jose Mercury News columnist Leigh Weimers, a lifelong champion of the arts and longtime member of the club.

The artists selected to receive the awards are hip hop artist Demone Carter, installation artist Genevieve Hastings, lighting designer Nick Kumamoto and stage director Jeffrey Lo. They were selected from more than two dozen nominations in various artistic fields including visual arts, music, written word and performance. The four artists each will receive an unrestricted $3,000 grant and will present their art on Sept. 17 at the lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of San Jose. Funds for the awards were contributed by Rotary Club members, friends of Leigh Weimers and the Knight Foundation Endowment of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Nominations were judged by a panel that included Rick Lombardo, former Producing Artistic Director of the San Jose Rep; Karen Kienzle, Executive Director of the Palo Alto Art Center; and Bruce Labadie, Artistic and Festival Director of San Jose Jazz.

The awards were launched in 2013 with the first grants going to dancer/choreographer Lauren Baines, jazz vocalist Jackie Gage and sculpture artist Charlotte Kruk. Both Baines and Gage credit the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Awards with providing them the ability to pursue new projects.

Baines says, “Beyond the support and recognition of my local community, which came as a wonderful surprise, the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award equipped me with the means to start developing two new projects including a series of dance films that I began work on this summer during a residency in Iceland. Without the award, I may not have been able to pursue this project.”

Gage said the award has been a springboard toward expanding her music career. “Before winning the inaugural Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist award, I was so comfortable living and working in my local surroundings that I hadn’t had the chance to grow in my music and plan what steps I can take to become an established musician in a regional, national, and potentially global way,” she said. “This award gave me the means to plan my first album, from the recording and physical printing of it, to the wide-scale sharing of it-—something that I can then share with listeners all over the world!”

About the artists:

Demone Carter: For the past 15 years, Demone Carter has been a hip hop emcee, community organizer and social entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley arts and education community. He’s released several albums under the name Dem One, and his latest musical endeavor, “Audio Still Life,” features collaborations with renowned hip hop artist Motion Man and acclaimed visual artist Sam Rodriguez. He was also the co-founder of Unity Care’s Hop Hop 360 after-school program, which provided more than 1,000 young people with the opportunity to express themselves through art from 2004-10. His new program, FutureArtsNow!, seeks to fill the void left by school arts programs to give youth an outlet for expression. Demone Carter also serves as vice chair of CreaTV San Jose and is a graduate and program coordinator for the Multi Cultural Artists Leadership Institute (MALI).

Genevieve Hastings: A San Jose-based installation artist, Genevieve Hastings creates large-scale, ambitions works that immerse viewers into constructed environments like a rundown shack, a 21-foot barn-red covered bridge or a pop-up trailer. She encourages participation through encounters with objects, images, sounds and scents that stimulate a memory response in the viewer. She has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from San Jose State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Francisco State University and has participated in solo and group exhibitions in the Bay Area.

Nick Kumamoto: Based in the San Jose area, Nick Kumamoto is the resident lighting designer for City Lights Theatre Company in downtown San Jose and also works as a freelance designer for many other companies in the area. His interests include musical and non-musical theatre as well as dance. He’s currently attending Santa Clara University working towards a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and says that aspect of his life helps him to bring an analytical approach to the art of lighting design. “More than anything else, I seek to bring a meticulous and uncompromising attitude to my work,” he says. “I do not settle for mediocre results and will do what needs to be done to create a design that works.

Jeffrey Lo: A graduate of UC-Irvine, Jeffrey Lo returned to the San Jose area four years ago and has been a stage director for several Bay Area theater companies, including the Palo Alto Players, City Lights Theatre Company, Renegade Theatre Experiment and San Francisco Playhouse. He was named in 2012 as the “Emerging Artist” laureate by the Silicon Valley Arts Council. The child of Filipino immigrants, Lo says it is important to him to give underrepresented communities the chance to share and watch their stories on stage. “I believe in the power of people. I believe in the power of community. I believe in the power of stories,” he says. “My belief in these things is what pushed me towards a career as a stage director and playwright in theatre.”

About the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards:
The Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards were established to encourage artists in Santa Clara County while also honoring the legacy of late Mercury News columnist Leigh Weimers. Leigh wrote his column in the Mercury News for 40 years until his retirement in 2005. Throughout his career, Weimers championed the arts in the Santa Clara Valley, encouraged the creation of arts groups and frequented galleries and performances with his wife, Geri Weimers. Leigh Weimers passed away in August 2012 at the age of 76.

The Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards is a program of the Rotary Club of San Jose, with significant funding provided by the Knight Foundation Endowment of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. It was created with seed funding from the Spirit of San Jose award committee. The Spirit of San Jose award was created to recognize individuals for their contributions to and support of the City of San Jose, its economic growth, its arts and its community. Leigh Weimers was the first recipient of the award. Additionally, the program receives funding from the Rotary Club Foundation, Rotary Club members and friends of Leigh Weimers.

For more information,

Steve Borkenhagen