art visionary award

The Art in Action Art Visionary Award is given annually to a person or organization that exemplifies, supports, and promotes the important role that art and artists play in society and our everyday lives.


Dr. Tony DeRose, Pixar Animation Studios

Tony DeRose is currently an educational consultant. He received a BS in Physics from UC Davis, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley. From 1986 to 1995 Dr. DeRose was a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. From 1996 to 2018 he was a Senior Scientist at Pixar where he led Pixar’s Research Group for most of that time.For the past seven years he has developed several initiatives to help make math, science, and engineering education more inspiring for middle and high school students. One such initiative is Pixar in a Box which is designed to show students how concepts they are learning in class are used to solve creative challenges at Pixar. In 1999 he received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award, and in 2006 and 2019 he received Academy Awards(c) for his work on the mathematics of surfaces.

Elyse Klaidman, Pixar Animation Studios

Elyse Klaidman is a life-long arts professional and educator with a passion for museum and educational programming dedicated to inspiring and developing the most diverse future of artists, storytellers, innovators and problem solvers. Before joining Pixar in 1996 Klaidman worked as a painter, a teacher and gallery director.

In 1996 Klaidman was hired as a drawing instructor by Pixar President and Founder, Ed Catmull, and joined full-time in 1998. She developed and oversaw Pixar University’s internal education programs including art, film guest speaker programming, technical training and leadership development. She was director of Pixar University from 2008 through 2016.

In 2000 Klaidman founded and began curating exhibits for Pixar’s internal galleries. In 2004, she was asked by John Lasseter to work with curators at NY MoMA to curate and organize “Pixar: 20 Years of Animation.” Klaidman has re-curated the exhibition multiple times as it continues to tour internationally. In 2015 Klaidman and team collaborated with the Museum of Science, Boston to create “The Science Behind Pixar,” showcasing the technology and science behind Pixar film productions. The 12,000 square foot exhibit is currently touring the United States and internationally.

Klaidman co-founded and led the team that collaborated with Khan Academy to create “Pixar in a Box” a series of learning tutorials that demonstrate how math, science, engineering, and the arts are vital to the magic of the Pixar filmmaking process. There are currently over thirty Pixar in a Box lessons on Khan Academy.

After a wonderful twenty two year career at Pixar, Klaidman has left the studio to fully devote her work to equity in education and inspiring and developing the next generation of creative problem solvers.


Charles Geschke, Adobe Systems, Inc. Co-Founder

Charles (Chuck) Geschke co-founded Adobe Systems Incorporated in 1982. A leader in the software industry for more than 40 years, Chuck retired from his position as president of Adobe in 2000 and continues to serve on the board with Adobe’s co-founder John Warnock. Prior to co- founding Adobe Systems, Chuck formed the Imaging Sciences Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1980. From 1972 to 1980, he was a principal scientist and researcher at Xerox PARC’s Computer Sciences Laboratory. From 1963 to 1968, Chuck taught mathematics at John Carroll University. Chuck holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University and a M.S. in mathematics and an A.B. in Latin, both from Xavier University.

Chuck has actively participated on several boards of educational institutions, non-profits, technology companies, and arts organizations. In 1995, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2008, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In October 2009, Chuck was awarded the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama. In the fall of 2010, Chuck was presented with the Marconi Society Award for scientific contributions to human progress in the field of information technology. In 2012, Chuck was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society.

John Warnock, Adobe Systems, Inc. Co-Founder

Since Dr. John Warnock co-founded Adobe in 1982 with Dr. Charles Geschke, the two have worked closely together to develop a stream of pioneering software products that have established Adobe as leader and innovator in digital experiences across every screen.

For nearly three decades, Warnock’s vision and passion have been integral to Adobe’s success, building the company from a small start-up to one of the largest, most recognized software brands in the world. He was president of Adobe for the company’s first two years and CEO for the next 16 years. Warnock retired as CEO in 2000 and as the company’s CTO in 2001. He served as chairman of the board from April 1989 to January 2017, sharing that position with Geschke from September 1997 onwards. Today, he remains a member of Adobe’s board of directors.

Before co-founding Adobe, Warnock was a principal scientist at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Prior to joining Xerox, he held key positions at Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM and the University of Utah.








2017: Nathan Sawaya, Contemporary Artist, Arts Education Advocate and Founder of Art Revolution
Creator of THE ART OF THE BRICK and renowned LEGO® brick artist, Nathan Sawaya is the first to utilize the toy as an art medium. Sawaya believes that “Art is not optional. It’s as important as breathing and eating.” He founded Art Revolution for the purpose of making art a priority in our schools and in our homes. He is the author of two best-selling books and his touring exhibition, THE ART OF THE BRICK, opens at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland on February 17, 2017 and is rated by CNN as one of the world’s “Must See Exhibitions.” Nathan Sawaya’s artwork has grabbed the attention of art critics and pop culture enthusiasts alike. His contemporary pieces are both beautiful and playfully meticulous, transforming ordinary blocks into works of art through thoughtful design. His devotion to scale and color perfection while incorporating the way he conceptualizes the action of the subject matter, enables him to elevate the world’s most popular toy to a fine art status.









2016: Vernon Davis, Artist, Pro-Athlete, Philanthropist
Most recently playing as a tight end on the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos, Vernon Davis joined the NFL as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers in 2006.  He was drafted from the University of Maryland where he played football and majored in Studio Art. Throughout his celebrated football career, Davis maintained his connection to fine art as an avid painter, art collector and philanthropist. In 2010 he funded the Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship Fund and, later, the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts to promote arts education and art appreciation among youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. The foundation provides scholarships to dedicated art students and grants to nonprofits whose programs share similar ideals.

“Growing up in my community in Washington, D.C., it was tough to pursue your dreams, and the dream in my heart was always to pursue the arts.” Davis said. “I want to help young people find new ways to express themselves, to lift their spirits and fulfill their dreams through an arts education.”









2015: Dennis Hwang, Google’s Founding Doodler
Dennis Hwang “may be the most famous unknown artist in the world.” (CNN)  While studying Studio Art and Computer Science at Stanford University, he began an internship at Google as Assistant Webmaster. He was soon invited to design the Google Doodles by founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. From 2000 to 2009, he designed hundreds of doodles commemorating the Olympic Games, artists’ birthdays, the achievements  of Nobel Laureates, and special occasions around the world. Hwang also helped start Doodle4Google, an international art competition offering students the chance to show their artwork on the Google homepage and earn scholarships.

Hwang is currently Art Director for Niantic Labs, where he leads the development of the visual and interactive experiences of location-based mobile apps such as Field Trip, which provides users with historic and cultural details of their immediate surroundings, and Ingress or Pokemon Go, immersive multiplayer experiences in a new emerging genre of games, one in which players are inspired to explore and interact with the real world.