Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 2012 Renaissance Award Recipient is Donna Baker and the Hearts in the Arts awards go to Betsy Matz for The Acknowledge the Arts 2012 Fundraiser for MAFA The Monrovia Association of FIne Arts. Photo Journal by Ginger Van Hook

Donna Baker is Monrovia Association of Fine Arts Renaissance Award Recipient! 2012
Photo by Ginger Van Hook©2012
Written by Ginger Van Hook, Press Liaison, MAFA

(Monrovia, California)
Monrovia Association of Fine Arts has announced this year’s award recipients for their Acknowledge the Arts 2012 fundraiser to be held on Saturday evening March 24, 2012 at the RESTAURANT DEVON 109 East Lemon Avenue Monrovia, 91016. The 2012 Renaissance Award Recipient is Donna Baker and the Hearts in the Arts awards go to Betsy Matz! Solana Feldthouse & Theresa Lipps are the featured Student Artist winners as well. Additionally, one of the most uniquely featured ideas to come out of this year’s event will be the special handmade clocks to be auctioned off as they invoke the theme “Take Time For Art”! The public is invited and encouraged to attend one of the most popularly celebrated events in Monrovia where consistently Monrovia Association of Fine Arts not only honors those who have made incredible contributions to their community in the arts, but additionally continue to inspire and support the development of local artists. The Renaissance Award is given every year to honor and recognize a special member of the community whose contributions to their fellow citizens leads to the cultural enrichment of the community as a whole. 

In an interview with the 2012 Renaissance winner, Donna Baker, she explained that her community is of utmost importance to her and that she can rarely say no to great ideas in particular those artistic values promoted by M.A.F.A., where she stated that President, Bill Beebe is a significant influence on her. Donna Baker started real estate in 2001, after a career as an administrative professional came to a sudden halt due the Internet bust, when she found herself jobless.  It was then that Donna was prompted to get her real estate license by a friend who saw her potential and fate created an opportunity for her to find her calling to be enormously successful at what she does. But it’s not just that Baker does her job, and does it well, it is more about what she does for her customers, her clients, her neighbors and her friends that has earned her the recognition of her community.  Donna Baker is an effective listener who gets involved and makes her special presence known that she is there to help.   Baker pays close attention and seeks out solutions where she knows she can be of support. Also known to flash her effervescent smile when talking about her family of community, Baker states that this is because she feels great joy to invest in the success of her community.  Since 2002, Ms. Baker has been the #1 agent in her office and in Monrovia. Donna attributes her success to her administrative background, along with her personality, professionalism, and ethics.  Specializing in architecturally significant properties, Donna presently serves as Director of Heritage Homes for Podley Properties in Monrovia.   When not selling homes, she is very involved in her community. Donna serves as Historic Preservation Commissioner in Monrovia, traveled to Thailand to work on the Jimmy Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity, and supports many community organizations. Donna has been on the Board of the Santa Anita Family YMCA for over seven years and served as President from 2008 through 2009. 

Ms. Baker received the coveted Iris Award as 2008 Citizen of the Year from the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce.  That same year she was recognized by the Boys & Girls Club of the Foothills as the recipient of the Mary Wilcox Youth Advocacy & Community Leadership Award, an honor Donna cherished because of her friendship with Mary Wilcox while she was on the City Council.  In addition, Donna has always been a supporter of MAFA, a nonprofit group that encourages awareness of the arts.  In 2012, she is honored with the Renaissance Award from MAFA for her contributions to the community. Donna Baker may be contacted on her website:

M.A.F.A. is also pleased to announce The Hearts in the Arts award winner, Betsy Matz, the 2012 recipient for her generous contributions to the Village Art After School program. A woman of a great deal of enthusiasm for her responsibilities in MAFA, a professional artist dedicated to the success of those around her, Betsy Matz also engages her peers and her community members in challenging them all to find more ways to be creative and to inspire those around her.

Betsy Matz is the 2012 recipient of the Hearts in the Arts award
selected by Monrovia Association of Fine Arts 2012.
Photo courtesy of Bill Beebe, MAFA president.
Betsy Matz was drawn to the arts at an early age and attended high school at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, graduating in 1998 with an emphasis in set design.  She was awarded a merit scholarship to the Disney-founded California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA and received her BFA in scenic painting and design from that school in 2002.  After a short stint as Art Department in the entertainment industry, during which she worked on several feature films, music videos, commercials and editorial photo shoots (including working for famed photographer David La Chapelle), she discovered her love of teaching. With two parents in the education field, Betsy had a natural ability to teach and relished the chance to help young artists realize their visions.  What started as a part time job teaching art classes in the Los Angeles area soon became a real career when she was offered a partnership with a local art studio and became a business owner.  For eight years Betsy taught 150-200 students each week in the fine art technique of drawing and painting. During that tenure she chaired local art events, curated student shows, organized charity art auctions and became heavily involved with the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, a non profit local to Monrovia, CA-the location of her studio.  Although she chose to sell the studio business in 2009, moving on to other teaching opportunities and a corporate job, she continued her relationship with MAFA as a board member, volunteer and teacher in the MAFA sponsored Village After School Art Program for Monrovia Unified School District.  Betsy was the chair of the MAFA Summer Art Walks and Acknowledge the Arts night for several years, however she now devotes the majority of her MAFA hours to grant writing and organizing and teaching the Village program.  She is currently writing her Master's thesis in the Art Education program at Boston University and will be awarded an MA AE in May 2012. Through Boston University Betsy was awarded a grant to study painting in Tuscany, Italy during the summer of 2011where she spent two months living and painting in the company of her infant son and her mother. Professionally, Betsy spends part time as a designer for Mattel, Inc., the international toy company, and part time teaching at Life Pacific College, Mayflower Elementary and in the Village program.  Betsy has been married to Steve Matz for several years and they have one adorable, 18 month old son, Rider. 

This year's theme for the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts Annual "Acknowledge the Arts" fundraising celebration is "Take Time for Art!" and to emphasize that idea, local artists created unique works of art out of old clocks. Adding a timely new twist to the theme, ten MAFA member artists modified, decorated, and deconstructed traditional brass alarm clocks into their own interpretations of this year's theme. The artist who originally came up with this concept, Steve McCarthy, said he was inspired to do so because these economic times require drastic measures to overcome and to “Take Time For Art” is to provide the richly needed nourishment that the arts can foster in a community. Together with Lisa Barrios, of Paint N Play, and volunteer MAFA artists, the clocks were distributed to be re-created. "The idea is to promote the concept that we all need to Take Time for Art…MAFA uses projects like this one to raise money for arts education in Monrovia schools, as well as elevating the profile of the arts in our community," added McCarthy.

Please join us in celebrating the generous accomplishments and inspiring leadership of Donna Baker, Betsy Matz, student featured artists Solana Feldthouse & Theresa Lipps on Saturday evening March 24th, 2012 at 7pm – 10pm by participating in all the exciting activities planned for this commemorative day. Bid on a unique clock and ‘Take Time For Art’ in your life! There will be the Fine Art Auction, organized by Rouzanna Berberian, in addition to lively music, a 50/50 raffle, door prizes, hors d’oeurves, wine and spirits. All proceeds go to benefit art programs in local schools. Advance tickets may be purchased for $35 in advance or $50 at the door and may be purchased on the website through paypal. For more information please visit

The Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, otherwise known as MAFA, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the cultivation and support of the arts in children’s after school programs as well as educational awareness of the arts in the community at large. Regular MAFA affiliated venues displaying artwork of MAFA member artists include the following:

First City Credit Union Gallery located at 404 Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA 91016
(Contact: Carol Curtis

Paint N’ Play Art Gallery, (in OLD TOWN MONROVIA) is located at 418 South Myrtle Avenue Monrovia, CA.
(Contact Lisa Barrios at or call (626) 256-4845).

The two biggest fundraising events sponsored by MAFA are “Acknowledge the Arts”, held in the Spring and the “OCTOBER FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS” held at the Monrovia Library Park every year. MAFA also sponsor the SUMMER ART WALKS every year on Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia. The 2012 summer art walks are scheduled in June, July and August.

Bill Beebe, President, Monrovia Association of Fine Arts PO Box 92 Monrovia, CA 91017 (626-256-3124)
“Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.” The Monrovia Arts Festival Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For further information regarding this press release, please contact Ginger Van Hook Writer/Photographer at Email:  or visit       ## END.