DISCOVERED: Ten Years of Impact

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the “Discovered: Emerging Visual Artists of Sonoma County” program, conceived and funded by Community Foundation Sonoma County.

February 2017

Anniversaries offer the opportunity to evaluate the results – the impact – of a program. So Creative Sonoma reached out to each of the prior recipients of a “Discovered” Award to answer a few questions to learn about how the award impacted their careers, and what they are doing now. As you will see, their responses are as varied as is their work. But there are a few common themes expressed by the artists that resulted from receiving this award: confidence that they could live as an artist; the opportunity to explore a new direction; an easing – even if temporary – of the financial burdens of making art.

This year’s recipients of this biennial award are currently featured in an exhibition at the Petaluma Arts Center, running through March 18th. Click here to see the work of this year’s winners.

Click on the artists’ names below to see their full responses, which also contain links to online sites to view their work.



Todd Barricklow
“The grant provided some local attention which was good. The money helped out with some equipment in the studio. And it’s a nice line on my resume.”

Seth Minor
“Prior to the award the notion of making a living as an artist seemed unlikely, but the acknowledgement and encouragement that the award gives someone creates the confidence to believe that it’s possible.”

Catherine Richardson
“This award made a pivotal impact in shoring up my confidence and belief in myself as a practicing artist. It helped me set a life commitment and professional approach to my art.”


Sarah Frieberg
“The notification of the award came on the perfect night. I had just received my denial letter to the Cal Berkeley MFA program and after reading it I got the biggest smile and it was a wonderful validation of all my hard work and dedication.”


Tramaine De Senna
“Although art was always the fire feeding my soul, I believed that I did not deserve to be an artist within this lifetime, and that I would have to wait and pursue it in my next life.”

Laine Justice
“With the award, I was able to purchase my own raw pigment library, allowing me the tools necessary to make substantial bodies of work for many years.”

Andrew Sofie
“The Discovered award was instrumental in my career as both a product developer and an artist helping me both financially, to dedicate myself full time to highly technical art works I had been imagining for a long time yet hadn’t had the resources to pursue.”


Cathy Ellis
“It gave me a lot of courage to stay dogged and apply to other programs on a national level.”

Peter Hassen
“Inclusion in the Discovered show signaled a recognition among my peers that was at once gratifying, and challenging; it was a confidence builder, but also forced me to take the presentation of my work to a new level.”

Ryan Lely
“My involvement has continually spurred my artistic expression as I continue to create new pieces.”

William Smith
“The Discovered Exhibition had little to no impact on my work and career. Although it was an honor to be recognized, the experience came and went and I picked up where I left off before the event. Which was a change in direction conceptually. On a positive note, the lack of opportunities in Sonoma County contributed to my interest in starting the “Fresh Prints” parties.”

Esther Traugot
“It helped me get more succinct in the direction of my work. Since then, I’ve put more emphasis on the relationship of place in my projects and the fragility and tenacity of nature.”


Erik Castro
“In retrospect the impact was all about personal growth. “Discovered” help me look within and see what was important and what was not.”

Stan Abercrombie
“Before the Discovered program, I had the strong feeling that what I was doing was a dead end, that what I produced was never seen by anyone else. Now I can feel that I have some audience for what I do, which has given me much more energy for producing things.”

Miles Votek
“After showing in the Discovered exhibition, I found my video installation to be the most gratifying and continued to pursue film on the edge of abstract and narrative while incorporating my sculptural skills through animated sequences.”