Summer art adventures

It was the summer of love…art love, that is, as June and July were totally dedicated to both on-site and outreach art classes for children. 

It all started in June with a first-ever such partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Nogales.  Headed by local gallery owner/artist Nanette Miranda and Tubac painter Virginia Vovchuk, the classes ran through July and addressed several  drawing, painting and paper-making techniques. 

The classes averaged 12 students each (limited in Club room size), and was noted as a resounding success by participants and instructors alike.  An exhibit of the art pieces was mounted at the entrance to the Club.

 We are thankful for grants from United Way and Santa Cruz Community Foundation that allowed us to collaborate in this exciting new program we hope to repeat next year.

Every July we host art classes sponsored by the City’s Parks & Recreation Department, and this year close to 100 young artists signed up.  We were especially lucky to have teacher/director Jennifer Mireles and her crew of assistants, plus Board member Janice Johnson, keep things humming at the creatively-themed “ARTventurous Summer”. 

The Gallery was buzzing  every weekday, with a closing show of completed works attended by parents and artists on July 28th.

We are indeed fortunate to have the type of local support that allows us to offer innovative programs during the summer vacation that keep our youth occupied and happy (especially the parents!)

R.I.P. Marcos Cazares

It is with sadness that we just learned of the untimely passing of our Board officer, colleague and enthusiastic supporter Marcos Cazarez. 

Marcos was instrumental in introducing us to new members and innovative programs, such as the Cochise College partnership, always bringing creativity and humor to our meetings and events.  He will be missed.

R.I.P., Marcos!

Summer classes and festivals

Beginning this week, we launched our new “Express Yourself!”  arts program in partnership with the local Boys & Girls Club, supported by grants from the Santa Cruz Community Foundation and United Way.   This is a first time these two non-profit agencies have collaborated on this program.   
The first class (photos above) was taught by Virginia Vovchuk , a San Francisco Bay Area watercolorist  now living in Tubac, who says she thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  13 girls attended the class to learn about still-life painting. The classes are designed to “stretch” creativity and technique for budding artists.
B&G Club executive director Vicki Barden told the local newspaper:  “We are excited to partner with the Hilltop to have visiting artists work with our young members to improve their art abilities.  With only 40% of local schools offering art classes, this program fills a learning  gap while adding a fun experience during their summer.” 
The program is a joint funding effort to pay for teachers’ fees, materials and other related expenses.
The Gallery is expanding its roster of teachers from award-winning artists from Santa Cruz County and Tucson. Those currently scheduled to teach during June and July include Nogales gallery owner Nanette Miranda, Virginia Vovchuk, plus Art Garino and Luis Preciado.  The program may extend into the Fall.  
RR FestAnother event the Hilltop is participating in this week is the new Rio Rico Community Festival (left).  According to organizer David Alvarez, this summer event featuring food, music and performances is expected to draw over 100 kids + adults, and he hopes it will become a summer tradition.  Artist Nanette Miranda will represent the Hilltop with  craft demonstrations, with president Derwent and Board members dropping by.

Scholarship awarded to College



Hilltop Scholarship

Hilltop Board member Curtis Kraushaar shakes hands with local Cochise College’s art department head Tanya Borgensen after agreement for the Gallery to award a $1,500 scholarship deserving art students for the Fall term.  An awards celebration for two student recipients already identified is planned for November.  Cochise’s director Gabriel Galindo emails us: “Words cannot describe how grateful we are…”  Stay tuned for more news about this exciting new program,  Also, check out our special guest exhibit at the College featuring photography from George Thomson (see previous posts) (Hilltop scholarships are made possible in part by generous donations from United Way, Santa Cruz Community Foundation and our  members.)



Prizes of May Winners

This year’s Prizes of May competition filled our two rooms with great art!  The entries were judged blindly by a popular out-of-town artist (to make it impartial as it should be), with cash prizes given to the top three winners in each category. 

We were pleased to have several “first” at this event.  One, we had visitors from the new Museo de Arte de Nogales, the new Museum across the border in our sister city.  They were very interested in working with us toward our goal of expanding art awareness on both sides of the border.
Also, we had entries from students at Cochise College, where we are currently hosting an exhibit by member photographer George Thomson.  It was great to see the competitive enthusiasm from these young artists!
Many kudos to  curator Beverly Prager, Marlene Wade and other volunteers who organized and managed this event, and thanks to our visitors and supporters!  We were thrilled to see a record attendance .
…And the winners are:



1st Place – Denneen Peterson

2nd Place – Jeff Tousley

3rd Place – Denneen Peterson  –

Judge’s Choice – Curtis Kraushaar


1st Place – George Thomson

2nd Place – Frank Cripe

3rd Place – Frank Cripe

Judge’s Choice – Noel Weatherbie

Drawing & Painting

1st Place – Virginia Carroll

2nd Place – Raquel Speasl

3rd Place – Dan Thomas

Judge’s Choice – Rosemary Downey


May merriment

Spring has sprung with a vengeance down here in beautiful Santa Cruz County.  And it seems art fever is also blowing!  We have several new things going on this coming month you should know about:
Hilltop MarketPrizes of May.  Our annual judged art show promises to deliver new and old friends’ art on our walls and floors for a competitive exhibit.  Cash prizes in three art categories will be awarded.  Join us for our opening reception and cookout May 1, 1-4 PM!  (If you wish to exhibit, we’re accepting entries until next Saturday 30th.  Call 520-287-5515. ) Volunteer curator Bev Prager (left)  and Janice Johnson have been working tirelessly setting up this event!Hilltop Sep8
  • Show at  Cochise College.  We continue our co-op with our local College (see sidebar), now with a new exhibit by George Thomson (right).  George is one of the more prolific and well-known photographer in our region.  His unique images of local scenery and characters always draw attention.  Our local paper, the Nogales International, recently  covered it last Friday, but come by the College and see it for yourself.   We are grateful to Cochise management who have expressed very positive comments about this initiative, plus the foundations and private supporters who help make this possible.

    They make it possible to do our art outreach programs
N. MirandaPromotional partnership with member artists.  One of our key initiatives for this season has been supporting member artists to help build their business.  One of these is Nanette Miranda (left), an active Hilltop member and acclaimed paper-maker who splits her time between Nogales and New York (!).
Nanette recently opened The Little Gallery at the Americana Hotel in Nogales, and is already making a mark on the local arts scene, especially promoting young artists.  Check out her upcoming poetry event below (April 30th 5 PM at 639 N. Grand Avenue, Nogales).  Nanette also hosts  weekly art and craft sessions. Find out more at untitled12


A lotta cars


Both art and car buffs were satisfied this last Sunday during Luis Preciado’s themed exhibit opening:  “Cars”, or the art of autos. 
 A festive crowd showed up on a beautiful afternoon to enjoy grilled hot dogs with all the trimmings, plus delicious salads, desserts and other goodies generously contributed by members.  Outside, a few antique cars and their aficionados celebrated Spring.  There was also “El Rey DJ” playing 50’s favorites…and even some young enthusiasts in retro costume.
…And, did we mention the pictures were also delightful??
(read previous post to learn more about this very talented and beloved local artist)


Preciado returns…with cars

One of our most popular exhibitors over the years has been Luis Preciado, and we are looking forward to his return next month when he launches a show themed “Art of Autos”.  A lifetime love-affair with cars has led this acclaimed artist and muralist to devote an entire show to them, along with a bonus classic car expo in our own parking lot!
Luis’s highly-graphic, monochromatic style made him a popular poster producer in the 1980s, when he lived and worked in Southern California. They were seen everywhere, it seemed…(you may recall these, per photo above.) Some of his acclaimed murals in around San Diego became a part of the local landscape.
Today, back in his hometown for ten years, his style has evolved into a  softer approach, using colors and more ethereal depictions of animals, ranch scenes and evocative residential trompe d’oeils he does for private customers.  Then, there’s the cars…
Be sure to join us when we welcome back Luis with a reception on April 3 at 1 PM!

Spring forward with art sessions

Nothing says spring like…Janice’s art class program!  Bring your kids to these enlightening sessions in the warm and welcoming ambiance of the Hilltop, Saturdays from 10:30-noon.

Drop off your kids or stay and view our current Gallery show, peruse our library and enjoy our patio views.

 Light refreshment for participants after, plus a FREE apron for the first 10 “artists”!


Sonoran talent joins our own

Abel Aguildar
“Pato” Aguilar chose shades of gold and black for his collection
It’s not often the Hilltop showcases several artists in one show, filling up all available wall and counter space,  but this last weekend we saw that the multiple formula added to the impact.
While headliner and frequent Gallery exhibitor Abel (“Pato”) Aguilar took over the main gallery rotunda with his show commemorating a “golden anniversary” with pieces  all in gold and/or black,  Sonoran artists Carlos Mal, Alma Rodriguez and Christian Gomez took over the rear gallery with their colorful scenes and politically-themed inspirations.
Alma Rodriguez opted for bright colors
Made possible through a partnership with the Mexican Consulate, this is the first time in recent memory that artists from Mexico joined local talent to exhibit together.
The four-artist exhibit will hang until March 31.