Mission

Arts in California Parks seeks to expand and deepen connections between individuals, communities, and natural landscapes throughout California by: 

  • Supporting California Native American tribes, artists and communities in creating artwork that offers perspective on our past and present and helps us to reimagine our potential, and
  • Establishing art installations and programming in State and local parks as catalysts for sustainable community connection, health and well-being.

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A Black femm in a yellow cardigan and stylish sunglasses sits behind a table displaying the book she wrote. She is looking to the left and smiling at someone off camera. The bright sunshine makes her glow with happiness. Behind her is a fanciful but semi-realistic mural depicting a waterfall in a desert and a hare that seems to be looking over Carmen's shoulder.
Story Walk with Carmen Bogan, author of Where's Rodney. ©2023 Parks California.

Vision

Through this program, California’s State and local parks will become more relevant and engaging to all, and will have greater capacity to nourish, educate and inspire individuals and communities.

Goals

  • Welcome: to draw California’s diverse populations into parks with culturally reflective and sensitive projects and programs.
  • Empower: to provide opportunities for mentorship and employment, expanding avenues for creative career pathways.
  • Heal: to harness the healing potential of arts and parks to improve physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals and communities.
  • Connect: to create emotional and contemporary experiences that connect people to their state and local parks, link culture and place, and intertwine communities.
  • Inspire: to evoke a sense of creativity and exploration among visitors, to celebrate California’s diverse tribal and cultural heritage, and to memorialize the cultural significance of park lands.

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Two adults reach up to continue painting California poppy flowers on a yellow mural wall. The poppies and their leaves are outlined, and the leaves are being colored in by a smaller person reaching in front of the adults. It looks like a fun, collaborative activity.
Candlestick Park Growing Together Day. ©2023 Parks California.

Budget

Arts in California Parks is funded by a one-time General Fund allowance of $25 million. Funding will be dedicated to arts projects and programs throughout the state and will be disbursed over the next four years. Funds will be divided between two distinct programs :

  • The Arts in State Parks will fund projects located within State Park boundaries beginning in 2023.
  • The Local Parks Grant Program will award funds for projects and programs in local parks throughout California through three grant cycles, anticipated for 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Schedule

Advisory Committee

The Arts in California Parks Advisory Committee will guide the development, implementation, execution, and evaluation of the Arts in California Parks program, including the Local Park Grant Program. The Committee will assist in establishing connections between programs, partners, stakeholders, and the public by utilizing their networks to enhance outreach and engagement. They will also identify funding opportunities, and provide comprehensive feedback on project calls, selection, and overall grant program processes.

Individuals representing diverse geographic, multicultural, and organizational perspectives, and interdisciplinary expertise in a range of art forms were invited by the Program Partners (California State Parks, Parks California, and the California Arts Council) to participate in the Advisory Committee.

A smiling middle-aged white woman with blonde hair in a black top resting one elbow on a wooden lectern.

Mona Abadir (she/her) has successfully partnered with businesses and philanthropic endeavors over her career. Her experience includes concept and design, mixed-use development, branding, marketing, partnerships, and operations. She has assisted global brand leaders in the resort business, luxury fashion manufacturing, retail, film, music entertainment, publishing, and the outdoor sports industry. Her success lies in her ability to understand seemingly disparate business and government components, and customer/community needs, to forge collaborations that produce powerful results and value.

Mona held executive leadership positions with renowned businesses in California before joining with partners to form a real estate development company in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The company developed award-winning projects including 2100 Kalakaua Avenue and the Storyteller partnership to highlight Hawai’i’s culture and arts worldwide.

Mona held the position of Chairperson of the Hawai’i State Foundation of Culture and the Arts (HSFCA) for 8 years. Under her leadership, the agency opened the Hawai’i State Art Museum, established an island-wide Strategic Plan, held the International Cultural Summit & Festival, and founded the Hawai’i Capital Cultural District, where she served as President for 10 years. Mona represented HSFCA on national and international levels, serving on the National Assembly of State Art Agencies board and the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) grant committee for the United States.

Mona’s lifelong philanthropic efforts have included stints as president and board member roles for non-profit organizations in contemporary arts, music, theater, native culture and arts, and business. Mona is a graduate of UC Berkeley, a long-time resident of California, and an avid traveler, trekker, and skier.

A tanned man with short dark hair sits on a ledge in front of greenery at the edge of a lake.

Alme Allen (he/him) is a Karuk and Yurok traditional and contemporary multimedia artist, designer, cultural consultant, and mentor from the lower Klamath River in Humboldt County, California. With his work deeply rooted in cultural traditions, Alme designs and executes bold public art projects that inform and educate communities about California’s Indigenous Peoples. His work centers around the themes of continuing tribal presence, community healing, and honoring tribal people’s connection and commitment to their land.

A core value of all his work, Alme is committed to actively preserving and passing on cultural traditions to future generations. He, along with his extended family, is responsible for caretaking and holding ceremonies for the Karuk People and recently completed a rebuild of the Ceremonial House at the village of Katimiin located near the confluence of the Klamath and Salmon Rivers in Siskiyou County.

Alme operates Karuk Carver Studios and is the co-director and co-founder of Spawning Ground, a newly formed nonprofit organization that supports California Indian healing, wellness, and joy by “re-villaging” places and spaces through Indigenous presence and projects. Most recently he has provided workshops, presentations, and advising with Two Feathers Native American Family Services, Humboldt County Office of Education’s Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship Project, Cal Poly Humboldt’s Rou Dalagurr Traditional Food Sovereignty Lab, as well as numerous other community groups. He also serves on the Yurok Tribe Construction Corporation’s Board of Directors and is an art and design consultant for new public buildings in Yurok country.

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Kate Bickert (she/her) is the Senior Director of Strategic Innovation at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. She has worked at the intersection of parks, design, art, conservation, community engagement, and social/civic benefit for more than 20 years. Kate’s work focuses on finding creative, delightful, and effective ways to engage the public and interagency teams in the planning, implementation, and experience of place and community in public lands.

She has a special interest in ensuring that people and communities who have been excluded from park experiences or have not felt welcome and safe in parks can find a sense of personal connection, inspiration, and belonging in these special places. Toward that end, she has led the park’s visitor research efforts and the development of a variety of initiatives that address barriers to park visitation and a sense of welcome to provide meaningful, relevant, and joyful experiences.

Initiatives she’s led include the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s (GGNRA) Art in the Park program and other innovative programs including the Roving Ranger, Community Trailheads, Free Community Shuttle Program, San Francisco Public Libraries Partnership, and, most recently, Presidio Activators Council.

Melecio Estrella (he/him) is a director, dance artist, and educator based in Oakland, California. All the branches of his work honor the wisdom, vulnerability, and grace of the embodied human experience. With an ecosystemic approach, Melecio believes that live arts are a vital component of the health of individuals and societies.

As Artistic Director of vertical dance company BANDALOOP, Melecio creates large-scale site-responsive works in natural and built environments around the world. Melecio has been a BANDALOOP member since 2002, and became the company’s 2nd artistic director in 2020, after founder Amelia Rudolph. His recent BANDALOOP works include “Resurgam” (2023) at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, “LOOM:FIELD” (2022) at the Lincoln Center NYC, “Transpire” (2021) at the Boise River Watershed, and “Tidal Constellations” (2019) at Balai Senai, the National Art Gallery of Malaysia.

In addition to his work with BANDALOOP, he co-directs the dance theater company Fog Beast and is a longtime member of the Joe Goode Performance Group. His choreographies have been commissioned by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Opera Center, Dancers’ Group, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Morrison Center for the Arts and numerous universities around the US.

Melecio is a 2018-2019 recipient of the Gerbode Special Award in the Arts, and a 2017/18 Leadership Fellow with the Association for Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) and is currently a Lucas Artist Fellow at the Montalvo Arts Center. Passionate about creating spaces for artists to thrive, Melecio serves on the advisory board for the Artists Space Trust and was a 2020-2021 Cultural Space Ambassador for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

Caryl Hart, PhD, (she/her) is an attorney and expert in public lands and park policy, with over 25 years of advocacy, scholarship, and administrative experience. She is currently Vice Chair of the California Coastal Commission where she has served since 2019. Also, she serves as Chair of the Great Redwood Trail Agency. Dr. Hart served for 13 years as a member of the California State Parks Commission, including seven years as Chair. In 2014, Dr. Hart was appointed by Governor Brown to serve on the Parks Forward Commission to assist in forming a sustainable path forward for the California State Park System. From 2010-2017, Dr. Hart was Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks, a system of 50 parks and regional trails including Doran, Stillwater and Gualala Point Regional Parks on the Sonoma Coast, and Spud Point Fishing Marina in Bodega Bay. As a native Californian, born in Los Angeles and raised in the Santa Barbara area, Dr. Hart is dedicated to the protection of our coast and ocean, and in ensuring maximum public access for all Californians and visitors to our state.

An enthusiastic white woman with wavy brown hair grinning enthusiastically at the camera.

Katie Hazard (she/her) thrives at the intersection of creativity and community engagement. She is the Associate Director of Art and head of the Art Department at Burning Man Project and has shaped the vibrant canvas of Burning Man for over a decade. Katie leads the selection, placement, and installation of over 400 artworks annually in Black Rock City and beyond and serves as the Chairperson for Burning Man’s art grant selection committees. She is a driving force for community and capacity-building for artists.

Burning Man art has been Katie’s passion since 2000, and her profession since 2013. Before joining the Burning Man staff, she pursued her love of art and culture through her work with museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, and almost a decade as a Senior Grant Manager at Harvard University. She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Notre Dame and was a founding member of an arts festival and an artist workspace in New England. She brings 20+ years of grants management expertise, most recently serving on art selection juries for Google, the Nevada Arts Council, and San Francisco’s Vacant to Vibrant program.

Katie Hazard’s commitment goes beyond conventional art curation, actively building community while integrating art with the natural environment on public land at Burning Man. Her role is pivotal in crafting an immersive, sensory experience that respects, enhances, and nurtures a symbiotic relationship between creativity and the landscape.

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Jennifer Kane (she/her) is a visual artist, public arts professional, and expert mountain guide who specializes in creating and facilitating place-based community projects. Her work with education and youth-focused organizations emphasizes rebuilding connections with the natural world and strengthening local and regional collaboration.

Most recently as Executive Director of Arts Connection – the Arts Council of San Bernardino County, Jennifer spearheaded multi-million-dollar state investments in a region that lacks county-level support for the arts by pioneering the launch of these program firsts: a local artists’ career development grant, professional teaching artist training series, two residency projects, and the Inland SoCal Creative Corps partnership, all of which have strengthened over 500 artists’ careers.

Before her work at Arts Connection, Jennifer served as a senior mountain guide in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks for a decade, and hosted the longstanding conversation platform, Artists’ Tea, in Joshua Tree National Park for two years as part of the Joshua Tree Art Innovation Laboratory.

As a writer, Jennifer’s published work in KCET Artbound and as part of the Mojave Project, connects the cultural development of the climbing community within the broader landscape of the Mojave Desert. Jennifer holds a Master of Fine Arts in Public Practice in restoration interventions from Otis College of Art and Design and currently lives and works in Bishop, California.

A tanned woman with short dark hair and glamorous makeup leans her chin on her hands and stares directly into the camera. Her shirt bares one shoulder.

Cava Menzies (she/her) is a multidisciplinary musician, visual artist, and educator who resides in Oakland, California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Berklee College of Music and a Master of Music from the University of Miami. Cava is a founding music faculty member at the Oakland School for the Arts and served as the Artistic Director of the school from 2015 – 2018. She is a 2014 National Artist Teaching Fellow. She has been a guest faculty member for Berklee College of Music’s weeklong music intensives in Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. She served on the board of the SF Chapter for the Recording Academy and was a quarterfinalist for the 2018 Grammy Music Educator Awards. Cava is the founder of the brand, COLORQUEEN, a multidisciplinary platform that highlights her integrated visual art, music, and travel work. She is also the director of the Oakland-based contemporary vocal ensemble, CO-LLAB Choir.

A woman whose dark hair blends into the trees behind wears a felt hat with a narrow brim and smiles at the camera.

Luz Perez (she/her) is an efficient and adaptable professional known for thriving in dynamic environments with 25 years of experience in event production.

Currently in the role of Senior Event Manager at Save the Redwoods League, Luz’s journey has taken her from professional theater with American Conservatory Theater to non-profit conservation. Leading teams through the challenges of virtual and hybrid events, to producing large-scale milestone celebrations, Luz knows that events can be manageable, fun, and a wonderful vehicle to engage new audiences.

Luz enjoys collaboration and mentorship supporting organizations and event professionals from Destiny Arts Center, Brown Girls Surf, Marin Theater Company, Z Space, and Presidio Community YMCA.

Luz is honored and excited to serve as an advisory committee member for California State Parks, Arts in California Parks program, and hopes to bring her experience, enthusiasm, and creativity to new people and spaces.

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Kim Stanley Robinson (he/him) is an American science fiction writer. He is the author of about twenty books, including the internationally bestselling Mars trilogy, and more recently Red Moon, New York 2140, and The Ministry for the Future.  He was part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers’ Program in 1995 and 2016, and a featured speaker at COP-26 in Glasgow, as a guest of the UK government and the UN. His work has been translated into 28 languages and won awards including the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. In 2016, asteroid 72432 was named “Kimrobinson.”

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Ivy Ross (she/her) is the Vice President of Design for the Hardware organization at Google. Over the past six years, she and her team have launched 50+ products winning over 240 global design awards. This collection of hardware established a new Google design aesthetic that is tactile, colorful, and bold.

A winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Ivy’s innovative metalwork in jewelry is in the permanent collections of 12 international museums.

Ivy has held executive positions ranging from head of product design and development to CMO and presidencies of several companies, including Calvin Klein, Swatch, Coach, Mattel, Bausch & Lomb, and Gap.

Ninth on Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business 2019, Ivy believes the intersection of arts and science is where the most engaging and creative ideas are found.

Most recently, Ivy co-authored with Susan Magsamen Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us.

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Roman Sanchez (he/him) is a Theatre Producer, Director, Educator, and a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Yale’s Theatre Management program. Past and current affiliations include Yale Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, California Arts Council, Lime Arts Productions, Teatro Espejo, Dell’Arte Inc., California State Summer School for the Arts, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, International Thespian Society, Theatre Workers Project, Redwood Curtain Theatre, and Ferndale Repertory Theatre. He is also the author of Preparing for College Theatre: A Guide for Performers, Technicians, and Designers.

He is a Kennedy Center National Arts Impact Award recipient, Herb Alpert Theatre recipient, and was one of American Theatre’s “6 Theatre Practitioners You Should Know”. He is a member of ArtEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle and Theatre Producers of Color. He has over 90 credits as a Theatre Practitioner and is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

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Jeffrey Williams (he/him) is the Vice President of Production for Unscripted Television at Paramount Global, overseeing content for BET Media Group. In addition to Jeff’s professional work, his dedication to environmental stewardship and community improvement is reflected in his current role as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Heal the Bay, a prominent Santa Monica-based environmental non-profit organization. By focusing on the restoration of coastal waters and watersheds in Los Angeles, Jeff actively contributes to creating cleaner and safer environments for both marine life and local communities.

As founder of the Black Surfers Collective in 2012 – a non-profit organization in the Los Angeles area promoting and fostering cultural awareness and diversity within the surfing community – Jeff has been instrumental in helping to reshape the narrative of surfing, making it an inclusive experience open to all.

Having served and earned an honorable discharge from the California Army National Guard had a significant impact on Jeff’s commitment to service in the community and environmental-related causes. Jeff resides in Ventura County with his wife and daughter, striving to create a life driven by purpose and positive change.

Williams was appointed to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2023.

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Emily Womack (she/her) is dedicated to developing methodologies that increase equity and support environmentally progressive approaches to art, Emily stands out as an expert in public art management and policy. As a leader in public art consulting, she has shepherded complex projects from start to finish for the State of California, the British Council, the City of Los Angeles, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among other governmental and cultural institutions.

Emily co-founded Dyson & Womack, a Los Angeles-based public art consulting, fabrication, and design firm that manages and advises on public and private contemporary artworks and programs. Significant projects for the firm include the City of Los Angeles’ public art triennial, CURRENT:LA, and the California Air Resources Board Public Art Program –– the result of which is the world’s largest permanent collection of artworks addressing air quality and climate change.

Emily led the artist commissioning process for the State of California’s Natural Resources Agency on a project that resulted in the State’s first-ever digital art collection. She developed and led Public Art CA, a platform for leadership and discussion on statewide policy topics such as art contracts for public artists and commissioning processes for various agencies, including the California Department of General Services and the California Department of Transportation. Currently, Emily is spearheading the PAiD: Public Artist in Development program, a joint venture with LA County Arts & Culture and the Mellon Foundation that seeks to promote the career growth and economic empowerment of underrepresented artists.

A middle-aged white woman with curly dark brown hair piled on one side regards the camera somewhat smugly through her glasses. She has wire-frame geometric earrings on.
Sue Bell Yank (she/her) is a writer, curator, educator, and arts administrator, and the Executive Director of Clockshop. She has worked in arts, entertainment, and public schools for nearly 20 years, including as Associate Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum, where she formed city-wide partnerships triangulating communities, the arts, and schools; and as Deputy Director at 18th Street Arts Center. She created an online education platform for the Oprah Winfrey Network and has worked as a teacher and curriculum specialist in and out of public schools. Her expertise lies in art with social impact, public art installations, cultural programming with community partnerships, strategic communications and digital marketing, and organizational strategy. Her interest in urban planning and affordable cities led her to create a six-episode podcast about housing in Los Angeles called Paved Paradise. She is on the City of Glendale Arts & Culture Commission and has consulted with a wide range of nonprofits on audience development, strategic planning, and visioning in the arts under the auspices of the California Arts Council, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the City of West Hollywood. Yank received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and a Master of Arts in Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California.