The Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s 38th annual awards ceremony, held Friday during a luncheon at the New Haven Lawn Club, began with a protest. As patrons were seating themselves in the Lawn Club’s expansive ballroom, a troop of young women marched in file toward the stage, chanting and holding aloft signs about stopping domestic and sexual violence, about women’s suffrage, about curing breast cancer.
The women were dancers from Premier Dance Company, headed by Hanan Hameen, one of the afternoon’s award recipients. They took the stage to a blast of music from the speakers, moving from funk to pop to hip hop, as patrons finished sitting down — a fitting nod to the theme of the arts awards this year, of phenomenal women.
When he was a penniless young man of 19 in the Bronx, originally from Puerto Rico, with little or no machine shop experience, John Soto answered an advertisement for a “machinist with one year’s experience.”
As the employer looked at him skeptically, Soto added, “If you hire me, in a year, I’ll be that experienced machinist.”
In one portrait, a man with glasses gazes from the frame, friendly but appraising. In another, Ruth Bader Ginsburg peers out from a background swirling with color, bringing all her intelligence and experience to bear to size up the viewer. In a third, a woman, nobody’s fool, gazes out from a scintillating wall of hues, a clock tower to her left.
It turns out that the woman is Marilyn Walton, a construction worker, hairdresser, and business owner who happened to be the grandmother of artist Jaida Stancil. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, of course, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, rendered by Aliya Anna Hafiz. And the man with the glasses is artist Salvador Bacón, father of Patricio Salvador Bacón Guaray, who painted his father’s portrait.