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The 39th Annual Governor's Arts Awards honor artists like UA Alum Victor Navarro

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Victor Navarro's piece titled "Mystic Deer." Navarro is an UA alumnus who has been nominated for two Governor's Arts Awards. Courtesy Victor Navarro

Victor Navarro, a 2010 graduate of the University of Arizona's BFA Studio Art program, is a finalist in the running to receive awards for the categories of “Philanthropy” and “Artist” at this year's Governor’s Arts Awards which will be held virtually on Oct. 28th.   

The Governor's Arts Awards are hosted by Arizona Citizens for the Arts, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting for public funding of the arts. 

Joseph Benesh, the Executive Director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, said that the purpose of the awards is, “to celebrate those that we serve.” 

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Victor Navarro was chosen to be one of those celebrated. 

Navarro is a Tucson based artist and founder of the International Art Exchange, an organization with a mission of: “Expanding cultural, educational, social and economic development for mutual benefit with the artists, sponsors and art supporters by fostering and encouraging friendship and mutual understanding,” according to the International Art Exchange website.

When talking about his journey as an artist, Navarro said, “It's been a beautiful experience. Because I love the experience that we get to travel with art and exchange cultural experiences, that's what I’ve been all about.”

Navarro was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but spent his formative years in Tucson. He said that his interest in art was first sparked at Carson Middle School in fifth grade by his art teacher Beverly Henderson. 

Henderson took Navarro under her wing after he expressed that he wanted to learn to oil paint. Once he learned to paint, he began selling his art to other teachers at his school. 

“The value of teachers in people's lives is definitely very immense, because they make a difference,” Navarro said. 

In 2006 Navarro became one of youngest artist to be entered into the “Drouot Cotation Des Artistes Collection,” a French dictionary of artists. 

“I was 16 and I was next to Picasso and Matisse, and my artwork was next to their collection,” Navarro said. 

This marked the beginning of Navarro’s professional career as an artist and he has since accrued a large amount of gallery shows and awards from all around the world.

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Navarro decided to formalize his arts education at the University of Arizona, where he said he really learned from the different characteristics his professors displayed within their own work and benefited from the guidance they provided. 

“I'm definitely very proud to be a Wildcat,” Navarro said. 

As an artist, Navarro said he is motivated by self expression. 

“I'm very colorful, I’m very vibrant and I believe most of my pieces are expressions of that,” Navarro said. 

Navarro's work also also reflected his own feelings.

“I think my art is important to this community because I make it with love. Everyone who owns a Victor Navarro is going to have a beautiful piece made with love,” Navarro said.

This sentiment is in line with what the Governor's Arts Awards are attempting to spotlight;

“Artists generally do what they do because they love it, because they’re invested in their communities and they want to make their world a more interesting place and tell stories about their life, and love, and hardship. They really do it for the passion,” Benesh said. 

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By honoring passionate artists like Navarro from all around the state, Benesh said the awards are a chance to “truly see a cross section of Arizona”. 

“There's a huge moment of learning about what else is happening around Arizona and I think people will be surprised by it, and be really inspired by how much arts and culture happen in Arizona,” Navarro said.

You can attend the 39th Annual Governor's Arts Awards virtually on the 28th at which will be broadcasted on the Arizona Citizens for the Arts Facebook page.


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