3 Bay Area Artists Receive $100,000 Creative Capital Grants

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Creative Capital Award winner Rodrigo Reyes directed 'Purgatorio,' a documentary about the US-Mexico border. (Courtesy Rodrigo Reyes )

Creative Capital, the New York grant-making nonprofit, announced $100,000 awards for three Bay Area artists Wednesday as part of a $3.5 million funding round for projects nationwide.

Oakland filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes and Oakland dancer and social practice artist randy reyes (no relation) as well as San Francisco poet, essayist and editor Tonya Foster are among the 41 artists selected by a nine-member, multidisciplinary panel to receive $50,000 in career development services and $50,000 in project funding as 2020 Creative Capital Award winners.

Rodrigo Reyes, whose 2014 film Purgatorio portrays life and death along the U.S.-Mexico border, won the award for an as-yet-untitled documentary about two Mexican migrants in rural California “told within the frame of the dramatic clash between systemic forces and personal choices that envelop young, incarcerated men of color in America,” according to the press release.

randy reyes, who’s been a fellow and resident at CounterPulse and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is launching Encuentro 33: LINE/AGE | Queer Neuro-Cognitive Architectures Hidden in Plain Site(s), a collaboration with a diverse, national cast of artists to develop performances “centering ecology, lineage and ritual through a choreographic lens,” the announcement reads.

Tonya Foster, meanwhile, is combining poetry, nonfiction prose and what the announcement calls “fictive FBI records” in Monkey Talk, a multi-volume writing and multimedia project exploring surveillance and race. Foster, an assistant writing professor at California College of the Arts, is the author of two books and recipient of numerous fellowships and residencies.


“Though these artists come to us from very different backgrounds, work in different fields, and explore a wide range of subjects, they share a dedication to pushing boundaries, both ours and their own,” Creative Capital president and executive director Suzy Delvalle said in a statement.

The 35 projects by 41 individual artists awarded this year were selected from a pool of more than 4,000 applicants. The announcement Wednesday details the demographics of the winners: 76 percent people of color, 54 percent women and 12 percent trans or gender nonbinary.

Creative Capital, formed 20 years ago in order to counter deep cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, receives key funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation as well as individual donors.

The organization’s “venture philanthropy” approach stresses cash alongside professional development services, mentorship and gatherings in order to increase the money’s impact.

Applications for the next round of the now-annual Creative Capital Awards open Saturday, Feb. 1.