Artist grant recipients announced; film fests, theater submissions open

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Monday April 29, 2024
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La Asamblea's Pa'lante Artist Grant Program recipients Briona Hendren, Stefan Perez and Kelly Autumn
La Asamblea's Pa'lante Artist Grant Program recipients Briona Hendren, Stefan Perez and Kelly Autumn

The winners of La Asamblea's Pa'lante Artist Grant Program have been announced by Kimzin Creative, an arts and equity consulting group and On the Margins, a group of bilingual and multicultural health professionals. The winners are Hannah Mayree, Rocio Gonzalez, Kelly Autum, Briona Hendren and Stefan Perez. Each of the five artists will receive an unrestricted grant of $30,000. La Asamblea is a new Sonoma County BIPOC and queer artist collective that organized the community-led grant program.

The grant program is unique in that it was established by and for local arts and culture workers representative of underinvested communities that determine grants. The Bay Area Reporter spoke with three of the winners.

One of Kelly Autumn's silkscreen prints  

"Being one of the chosen grant recipients is meaningful in ways I cannot fully express," said visual artist Kelly Autumn, who's based in Sonoma. "I've been juggling multiple jobs the last few years to make ends meet and my art practice has fallen out of balance. I feel that I've now been given permission to slow down, create and recalibrate. I can now afford to purchase new tools and supplies, and explore the possibility of attending my next artist residency. I hope to have my first solo show, and maybe even take a research trip."

Briona Hendren, a sculptor in Santa Rosa, said, "I have many projects I wish to use this grant towards. My first main focus with receiving this grant is to build a 'traveling foundry' to not only dive back into my favorite medium to work in bronze, but also to teach classes and demonstrations to those who would not otherwise have access to bronze casting or foundry work. My goal is to inspire the next generation of industrial artists."

Stefan Perez, based in Petaluma, is focusing on cinema.

"The grant will go towards creating a short film called 'Red Handed,' a Native American noir comedy I've been working on," said Perez. "I'm super proud of the script I have and can't wait to begin. Receiving the grant has already changed my life by giving me the validation I need as an artist. It says that others see the potential in what I can create, and it isn't just my mom."

Asked what advice she wishes someone had given when she first became an artist, Hendren replied, "Do not allow the preconceived limitations of yourself to get in the way of what you want to accomplish. You can learn everything you need to learn on the fly to get the job done. Dream big. Just keep going!"

Autumn offered advice as well, saying, "Find a community you can trust. Don't be a hostage to your work. It's important to commit to a studio practice, show up, and stay grounded. I think it's important to stay flexible and grant yourself permission to play without the pressure of perfection. I cannot dwell on when I don't feel inspired, but instead recognize what needs aren't being met and try to flex my muscles in the right direction for it to flow again."

Asked if any aspect of spirituality plays a role in their creation of art, Perez said, "It's not ancestor worship, but there is a sense of duty to make my ancestors proud. They had to endure a lot for me to be alive today and receive these opportunities. I must be grateful for what we have and keep it going for the next generation."

"Art is a vessel that has the power to heal and manifest in so many different ways," said Autumn. "It is honest and comes from within. The flow of inspiration is often not something I understand or am in control of, but it's important to try and seize the moment, quiet down and work when it is there.
"In my artistic focus, I often pay homage to my heritage and there is an important conversation there with my ancestors. The act of creating can take me to a place of happiness and purpose that feels otherworldly at times. When I feel disappointed or sad, I remind myself that my art practice is always there waiting for me, like an old friend."

Hendren offers a meditative aspect to a recent project.

"Last year I was invited to install a few sculptures in the sculpture garden at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa," she said. "I knew I wanted to share the medicine I have found in meditation with the public. So I created 'Rum,' short for rumination, which is intended to be a meditation platform. It's an opportunity for the viewer to sit quietly with their thoughts. It offers a pause for deep introspection about a moment in time or a practice of letting go of the thoughts that bubble up to the surface and allowing them to slowly fade away."

'-7' from the 2022 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival  

San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival seeks entries for its 2024 Festival. The SFTFF accepts narrative, documentary, experimental, animated films and music videos. All work should be created by transgender/genderqueer people. While prioritizing short films up to 20 minutes, all screening lengths will be considered. The regular deadline is June 4 ($15), with a late deadline on June 25 ($20).

Founded in 1997, the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival is North America's first transgender film festival, and exhibits groundbreaking, provocative, outrageous, courageous, moving and innovative works that show the complexity of lives lived on the transgender spectrum.

The festival will take place November 13-24 at Roxie Theater in San Francisco, as well as online via Eventive. Visit the website starting October 1, 2024.

Coming Out Film Festival
In other arts news, two film festivals and a theater company are accepting submissions. The LGBT National Help Center proudly announces the first-ever LGBT Online Coming Out Film Festival. Film submissions are being accepted until August 1st. This is the first gay film festival ever to focus solely on the coming-out process.

The film festival launches online October 11, 2024, National Coming Out Day. Films will be viewable for at least six months. And creators are free to submit and showcase their films elsewhere during the run of the Film Festival. The LGBT National Coming Out Support Hotline is just one program offered by the LGBT National Help Center.

Coming out to ourselves is a huge step. The LGBTQ Online Coming Out Film Festival offers filmmakers the chance to share their vision of what coming out is, or what coming out could be.

The Future is Queer
In other arts submission news, Left Coast Theatre Company is accepting scripts for short plays under 15 minutes for its upcoming theater festival, The Future is Queer. Multiple scripts can be sent, but they should focus on a theme with LGBT characters. Scripts can be submitted from April 28 through June 2. Selected scripts will be performed as stage readings in August 2024. www./

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