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25 years: Art in Lathrop is thriving
Art in Lathrop
Charlotte Jane Serafin, 7, presents an award to artist Bonnie Pater for her painting “Miss Vivian.” - photo by ROSE ALANO RISSO
The state of the arts is alive and well in the City of Lathrop. It’s been thriving the last 25 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Case in point is the Joyce Gatto Gallery at City Hall which added the latest of its permanent collection on the 25th anniversary awards ceremony of the annual Mayor’s Art Show and Sale.
The judge this year was University of the Pacific art professor Deanna Hunt.
The biggest winner of the evening was John Lenhart whose powerful oil portrait titled, “Give Me Strength,” got the nod for the 2018 Mayor’s Purchase award which came with a $500 prize from the Mayor’s Art Show Committee.
The top winners (first place blue ribbons) in the seven categories are the following:
oil and acrylics – Cheryl Bloomfield, “Timeline;”
pastels and drawings — (tie) George Simmons, “Jamaican Princess,” and Veronica Moy, “Wolf in the Night;”
watercolor — Rasheeda Clawson, “Great White Egret II;”
photography (traditional) — Tony Martin, “Majestic Bloom;”
photography (photo art) — William Calvin, “Rock Evolution;”
sculpture and miscellaneous — Jarrod Mays, “Shooting off Your Mouth.”
The Students’ Choice award went to “Lost in the Woods” by Shirley Sharp.
A number of highlights marked the 25th anniversary of the Mayor’s Art Show and Sale. For her leadership role in establishing the all-volunteer annual art awards and competition, Joyce Gatto was presented a photographic reproduction placque showing the Gatto Lathrop Saloon which was a prominent business on Seventh Street during the city’s heyday in the early 20th century. The establishment was owned by former mayor Bennie Gatto’s father. The original copy of the photograph is housed in the Manteca Historical Museum.
Receiving special mention and recognition during the awards ceremony was the youngest ever sponsor in the history of this community event, seven-year-old Charlotte Jane Serafin, the daughter of chiropractor Jon Serafin of Lathrop Chiropractic and his wife, a registered nurse. The winner of her Sponsor Award was Bonnie Pater for her painting, “Miss Vivian.”
The spotlight at Friday night’s awards ceremony also went to the Wheale family of Manteca. Loren Wheale, a computer design architect for HP, and daughter Mollie, brought home three prizes - Loren for his “Handmade Guitar” which won second place in Sculpture and Miscellaneous, and painting titled “Flying” which earned him a sponsor award, and daughter Mollie who won an honorable mention in Oil and Acrylics for her painting, “What is My Side of the Sky?” Mollie is a student at Joshua Cowell Elementary School in Manteca.
This is also a bonanza year for Lathrop photographer Tony Martin, an accountant by profession. He dominated the photography category, with his “Majestic Bloom” receiving the judge’s nod for first place, and his “Playful View” for honorable mention.
Artist Shirley Sharp was another big winner with her three entries receiving four honors - two Sponsor Awards for her paintings “Spring Arrives Early” and “At Home on the Ranch,” and “Lost in the Woods” for the Students’ Choice. “Spring Arrives Early” was also the judge’s choice for third place in the Oil and Acrylics category. Best in Show sponsored by Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal was Rose Albano Risso’s photograph, “Heaven and Earth,” which also received a Sponsor Award from CBC Steel Buildings.
The program’s emcee was retired Lathrop Fire District chief Jim Monty, a member of the all-volunteer Mayor’s Art Committee. Now living in Mariposa near Yosemite, Monty still makes the roughly two-hour one-way drive for two days to help in the preparations for the annual reception and awards.
This year, the city bestowed the recognition of Volunteers of the Year to the members of the Mayor’s Art Committee for their tireless efforts the last 25 years in making this community event a growing reality. The committee is comprised of chairperson Joyce Gatto, her husband Bennie who is a past two-time mayor of Lathrop, Cindy Martin and husband Tony, retired U.S. veteran Tosh Ishihara, and Monty.
Assisting in handing out the awards were Vice Mayor Mark Elliott and Lathrop Public Works Director Jack Jones. Guests attending were area leaders who included San Joaquin County Supervisor, third District, Tom Patti and Lathrop Council members Paul Akinjo and Steve Dresser. Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal sent official word apologizing for not being able to make it to the awards presentation. Fagundes Meats of Manteca catered the reception for the artists held prior to the awards ceremony. Among the reception donors were local businesses Swiss American, J.R. Simplot, and Costco.
All cash prizes that went to the winning art entries were donated by more than two-dozen area businesses and individuals who are staunch supporters of the art show. The committee also gave special thanks to Lathrop Business Park, the Manteca Bulletin and reporter Jason Campbell.
Established in 1994, the Mayor’s Art Show aims “to encourage and foster fairness, honesty, and acceptance of all levels of interpretation of art with a venue to display.”

The effort started small, with the art entries displayed on the walls of the temporary City Hall at the time located in a building of J.R. Simplot on Howland Road. When the new City Hall was built at Mossdale Landing west of Interstate 5, a gallery was established on the north side of the building where the Mayor’s Award art collections are on display. It is open for public viewing during regular business hours at City Hall. Admission is free.