By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop recognizes artists with reception
People’s Choice Award winner Joyce Becker reacts as Mayor Kristy Sayles’ tells her, “the check’s in the mail.” The prize for the People’s Choice Award was the only one that was not presented during the artists’ reception and awards presentation. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
LATHROP – Gilbert Olivas knows firsthand there’s life after retirement.

Sometimes, as he is coming to find out, it’s a life that is more challenging and demanding, even more thrilling and rewarding than the job that was their bread and butter for years - maybe even more lucrative.

The retired J.R. Simplot maintenance mechanic just had a foretaste of that when his 80-lb. “Coup de Grace” sculpture not only won this year’s Lathrop Mayor’s Art Purchase Award but also ran away with three other prizes including first in its three-dimension category. Two sponsors also picked the soapstone sculpture of an eagle, with a scared rabbit pinned beneath it and about to become the winged hunter’s tasty meal, for the Sponsor’s Choice award, each with a prize of $100. The Mayor’s Purchase Award is $500 which is only one-fifth of the artist’s $2,500 asking price. But Olivas accepted the lesser Purchase Award amount for the opportunity to have his work become part of the city’s permanent collection.

Olivas and the other winning artists, many of them from the local area, were joined by family, friends and art supporters who packed the Lathrop City Council’s Council Chambers for the evening reception and awards night. Among the winners were Manteca artists and Artist Guild members Tom Olson who won first place in the oil and acrylics category, and Jean Ramey whose “Reflections on an Engine” nabbed second place in watercolors, Sierra High School art teacher Devon York whose large ceramic creation, “It’s a Goatee,” received an  honorable mention ribbon. Lathrop’s Geoffrey Lum-Perez’s “San Francisco #1” earned honorable mention in the pastels and drawing category, and metal artist Jerrod Mays with Cathren Ericson won second place in sculpture for their collaborative work, “Old School.” Cindy Martin of Lathrop received the Sponsor’s Choice award from the Lathrop Rotary for her whimsical photograph of the moon in the early morning.

Among the young art supporters present was Shasta Elementary School fourth-grader Josiah Amen who was there to congratulate “Uncle Lino,” Giovacchini whose elaborate “International Crawler Disk & Ring Roller” sculpture made out of recycled wood won third place in the three-dimensional category. Young Josiah himself is a budding artist in his own right having won first place in Shasta School’s art contest this school year for his pencil drawing of the Sydney Opera House.

“Every year it gets bigger and better,” art show volunteer Bennie Gatto said of this year’s contest which attracted nearly 150 entries.

Gatto has been a perennial volunteer since his wife, Joyce, and a handful of other Lathrop volunteers launched this community event 17 years ago.

For their unstinting efforts, the Gattos received a surprise certificate of appreciation from Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Ceres).

None of the money for the prize awards and the food served during the reception came from the city coffers. It was wholly funded by the art program which generated money from entry fees paid by the artists and commissions from sold art pieces. Money for the sponsor awards came from individuals and businesses who participated this year. Two of the sponsors were especially recognized with plaques for having donated to the art show for 10 straight years – J.R. Simplot on Howland Road, and Delta A/C Supply on West Yosemite Avenue, both of Lathrop.