Honoring Sonoma’s new Treasure Artist

Posted on March 22, 2024 by Sonoma Sun

Sonoma Mayor John Gurney presents the Treasure Artist Award to Victor Ferrer

Victor Ferrer, Sonoma Treasure Artist 2024, and the folkloric dance group Quetzalén were honored on Thursday, March 19 for their extraordinary artistic and cultural contribution to the whole Valley. The ceremony and reception were held by the Sonoma Cultural and Fine Arts Commission at El Verano School. CFAC Connie Schlelein welcomed the crowd of over 200, acknowledging that it is a rare thing for a small town to have such a wealth of outstanding artists. She introduced the treasure artists from previous years who attended the event. Schlelein explained that Victor had been selected through a rigorous process for what was a very competitive year for treasure artist nominations. “Victor and Quetzalén ticked all the boxes,” she affirmed, “and our vote for him was unanimous.”

Sonoma Mayor John Gurney presented Ferrer a plaque with the key to the city. This was followed by presentations of other plaques and framed certificates from all the elected officials who represent the Sonoma Valley, including Congressman Mike Thompson, represented by Rebecca Hermosillo, Sen. Bill Dodd, and Assembly Member Cecelia Aguiar-Curry. First District Supervisor Susan Gorin praised Ferrer and the dance group as she presented Sonoma County’s recognition. Sonoma Valley Unified School Board president Troy Knox gave an appreciation of Victor’s work with the students of the Valley schools, explaining that recently the District has begun to officially sponsor the afterschool dance classes which Victor has taught as a volunteer for over ten years at El Verano school.

The two community members who had independently nominated Victor, Loretta Carpio Carr and Anna Pier, spoke of Victor’s talent and commitment to teaching the students of Quetzalén, who present with pride and joy their beautiful traditional Mexican dances to the whole Valley community. The parents of the dancers are an important part of the success. Over the years hundreds of students, instructed by Victor, have learned and performed dances from more than fifteen states of Mexico, in costumes he designed, executed by local dressmaker Noemí Vázquez. Quetzalén performs at events throughout the year including Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and Day of the Dead, at the Plaza, the Community Center, La Luz and Larson Park. Carr and Pier highlighted the artist’s passion for dancing and his dedication, working tirelessly as a volunteer in many roles in the dance group for over fifteen years, to share this Mexican heritage with our Valley. Ferrer was undocumented when he began as a dancer, and when it was possible became a DACA Dreamer; two years ago he became a US citizen.

Next to speak was the new Treasure Artist, who expressed appreciation to many, and above all to his wife Carmen, also a Quetzalén dancer, whose support has made it possible for him to realize his dream. He concluded his remarks with a quote from César Chávez that has guided him in his work teaching and directing the folkloric dance group: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. …Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and the needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

The evening’s highlight were dances from the states of Jalisco, Sinaloa and Michoacan, performed by over sixty of the newest K-12 Quetzalén dancers from Sonoma Valley Unified.

By Anna Pier











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