Lopez was an early member of Movimiento Artístico del Río Salado (or MARS), a grassroots group founded in 1978 to promote Chicano and Native American artists. For many years, their alternative arts space was a hub for the downtown arts scene. She's best known for using tamale paper and cyanotype photography to create dresses with images that reflect her personal and family histories, as well as her Latino heritage.
Akerly co-founded [nueBOX], an organization that helps artists develop new works, with Matthew Mosher. Akerly is a choreographer and dancer, whose work is frequently performed in the Valley. In 2016, [nueBOX] relocated from Phoenix Center for the Arts to Mesa Arts Center.
Winners were announced during Art in the Park on Thursday, October 12, at Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. More than 350 people attended the event.
The awards were presented by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Phoenix Center for the Arts, which announced the nominees in September. Eleven artists were nominated in three categories, and several organizations were nominated as well.
A panel chose the nominees from submissions made by community members.
This year's panel included Teniqua Broughton, Ashley Hare, Ann Morton, Nicole Olson, Nicole Pasteur, Alicia Sutton, and Rashaad Thomas. Last year, Morton received the visual artist award and Olson received the dance artist award.
Panelists looked at criteria including innovation, impact, and integration. Winners received an original work of art created by a metro Phoenix artist.
Here's the complete list of this year's winners:
Visual Artist: Annie Lopez
Dance Artist: Julie Akerly
Music Artist: Scott Spenner
Innovative Arts Organization: Phoenix Conservatory of Music
An additional award, for community innovator, was presented to Jack Lytle. Lytle served for many years as executive director of Theater Works in Peoria.
Last year, awards were presented in six categories, including visual arts, dance, music, theater, creative writing, and innovative organization. Next year's awards will include a category for culinary arts.
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Matthew Mosher as Matthew Moore.