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We are distributing five

$500 Artist Awards in 2023

We want to help

Here at Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, we’re committed to investing in our community through promoting the arts. Our Artist Awards Program is created to help the financial struggles the pandemic has caused our creative community.

We are especially concerned about the effect on under served communities. We don't want those creative voices silenced due to financial hardship.

We don't want to make this too difficult, we just want to help the folks who most need it. 

To apply please send:

• Five examples of your work.

Please keep the email under 8MG or send in several batches.

Use good quality photos of your work.

• The funds for this award are directed to provide support for underserved communities. Please address that aspect in your request.

• A description of where you are headed with your art (some examples may be: why you are an artist, your message, who you hope to inspire or reach with your art, your art career direction, what you hope to accomplish)

• Photo of you with your work to use on our social media to promote the awards to other artists

• Link to your website

• How $500 is going to help you

achieve those goals

• Must be a city or county resident of San Diego, CA. 

Artist Award: About Us

2023 Artist Award Recipient
Robert O'Sullivan Schleith

Local Poetry Legend and Founder of Poets INC Inland North County Poetry Group

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Robert's Path to Success in Creating Poets INC

In 1998,  I was successful in getting Marc Smith (of Chicago’s Green Mill) to certify one of the readings I was hosting as the official San Diego Poetry Slam, initially held at a College area coffeehouse, but eventually relocated to, and sponsored by, the much larger Urban Grind in Hillcrest. At the same time, in conjunction with the various readings I was hosting, I also began producing an annual anthology of local poets over the next five years called Drift Wood Highway. In 2005 I left a thriving San Diego spoken word scene to move to Escondido. Publisher William Harry Harding tapped me for a regional editor slot with his recently-launched San Diego Poetry Annual, and I was also handed the reins of the Escondido Municipal Gallery’s monthly literary series called Poets INC (Inland North County). Within two years at the gallery I began producing an annual anthology of local poets for the Escondido Arts Partnership titled SUMMATION, which is currently celebrating its 17th year. We at the Gallery are eternally grateful for invaluable editorial leadership from Robert Lundy and Elizabeth Yahn Williams for quite a few of those thirteen years. My most recent flirtation with risk has been to apply for a position on the Escondido Arts Partnership’s Board of Directors, thanks to ongoing encouragement from Executive Director Chrisanne Moats. In one of her most minimalist poems, Anais Nin wrote “And then the day came / when the risk / to remain tight / in a bud / was more painful / than the risk / it took / to blossom.” I wish everyone who reads this good fortune with the risks to which they choose to respond.

- excerpts taken from "Shoutout Social" article from December 28, 2020

Poets INC and the Escondido Arts Partnership host a monthly literary series at the EAP's Gallery usually the first Sunday of the month

Open Mic - Come Read - Any Poems OK

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Artist Award: About
Artist Award: Image

Artist Award Recipient
Trevor Coopersmith

Congratulations to Trevor Coppersmith for being chosen for a Surfing Madonna Oceans Project Artist Award! Trevor is an outstanding artist, and helps other folks achieve their dreams by offering a scholarship which helps High School art students fund their ambitions. He has volunteered for our Special Needs Surf Camps and we were super impressed with his skills and kindness to the kids!

About artist Trevor Coopersmith:

"Carlsbad has been my home for nearly two decades and I have dedicated my life to personal creative endeavors. Throughout my experiences as an artist, I found solace in giving back to the San Diego community. This has ranged from the City of Vista “In Bloom” utility box painting project, completing a mural at Waterworks Aquatics swim school in Carlsbad and teaching art lessons at various schools and nonprofits throughout North County. I have exhibited at the City of Vista Civic Center and am looking forward to the Surfing Madonna Art exhibition coming up at the Poway Center for Performing Arts. I am extremely thankful for the grant which will help fund my scholarship foundation and I will continue to make an effort to beautify my local San Diego community. I also plan to encourage more San Diego students to apply to the scholarship which helps High School art students fund their ambitions. Over the summer I also plan to volunteer as a surf instructor at Surfing Madonna events (specifically for special needs students) and will be teaching art lessons at my home studio, which I share with my father Justin, who is also a professional artist. We plan to collectively exhibit work locally at the Carlsbad Artwalk and hope to have opportunities to continue donating work for positive causes and beautifying the community through creative self-expression, teaching and civil engagement."

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Artist Award: Text

Artist Award Recipient
Marit Anderson

In recognition of her continuing support of the poetic arts in our community

Dr. Marit Anderson held a poetry workshop at the Encinitas Library and Surfing Madonna Oceans Project took that opportunity to surprise her with An Artist Award.

In recognition of her continuing support of the poetic arts in our community Surfing Madonna awarded Marit with a $500 Artist Award with the support of a Community Enhancement Grant from Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer of District 3 San Diego County!  Marit put on a spectacular “Awaken the Poet Within” event with an “Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop”. Ekphrastic poetry are poems written about art, and workshop attendees were encouraged to find a piece of art on display in the Library and be inspired.  They later read their poems in the beautiful community room surrounded by the paintings of Stevie Mac, whose pieces were the source of inspiration for many of the poems. Danny Salzhandler of the 101 Artists Colony and Robert O’Sullivan Schleith of Poets INC (Inland North County poet group) were in attendance to support the event also. Thank you Marit and lets keep the creative dialog going in Encinitas!

To participate:

Awaken the Poet Within

A writing practice group coordinated by Dr. Marit Anderson.

Artist Award: Text
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Artist Award: Image

2023 Artist Award Recipient
Danny Salzhandler

101 Artists Colony founder and Arts Alive Banner project Instigator
for over 20 years!

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Artist Award: Image
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Arts Alive Banners

An Encinitas Tradition

Each year, the signature activity and sole fundraising event of the 101 Artists’ Colony is to put on the Arts Alive Encinitas exhibit. For over 20 years, local artists have painted original works of art helping to create a fantastic display of color on the lamp posts along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, Encinitas and Cardiff by-the-Sea, California. Historically, the number of paintings has ranged from a couple of dozen to the record-breaking number of 103, all hanging from lamp posts on a 6-mile stretch of Coast Highway 101. In 2022, there are 22 paintings that will be displayed on the lamp posts at Cardiff Town Center as well as the lamp posts along the Cardiff Restaurant Row stretch of Coast Highway 101.

The 2 month display begins with an Unveiling Reception where the paintings are revealed and the first silent bids will be made. After the Unveiling Reception, the paintings are displayed on lamp posts for the public to enjoy, while silent bids are still taken by phone. Silent Bid status can be viewed online. The final step is the Live Auction. The exhibit comes off the lamp posts and each painting is put into the Live Auction, where bidders can seek to beat out any previous bids. This year’s Live Auction will be November 13, 2022.

The artists receive 50% of the sale amount and 101 Artists’ Colony receives 50% of the sale amount, using its share to continue the Arts Alive program.

2024 Banner Project Artists and Unveiling Location soon to be announced!

Artist Award: About

2022 Artist Award Recipient...

Little Fish Comic Book Studio!

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Artist Award: News

About Little Fish

For founder and executive director Alonso Nunez, art was the inspirational building block for Little Fish Comic Studio, starting with Leo Leonni’s children’s book entitled Swimmy. It is a story about a “little fish” that inspires other small fish to join together and scare away the bigger ones that also live in the pond, ensuring the little fishes’ survival. In a lot of ways, this is the vision, mission, and goal of Little Fish Comic Book Studio. Seeing that the “big fish” have taken over the pond and being inspired by other little fish (independent comic publishers & small press), Little Fish Comic Book Studio believes that it is possible to survive “in the pond” by working together and inspiring others to pursue their dreams to make great comics.


Fostering awareness and education for the comic arts

As a nonprofit educational corporation serving the San Diego region, Little Fish Comic Book Studio is dedicated to developing an appreciation of the comic art form through classes and camps directed to students of all ages and creeds, while through community partnerships and local events making an impact on the education of the public at large.

Our goals are to educate students using the standards of a traditional art school and the comic book industry with the passion and the openness of a relaxed studio environment. Little Fish aims to give each student, regardless of their prior educational backgrounds, age or identity, a realistic, working understanding of what it takes to be a professional comic creator, all while giving them the catered instruction designed to better them as individual artists at a pace that works best for them.


Our Projects

American BOOOM!

Sarah Hannigan's father is killed by Mexican cartels. What is a 16 year old girl to do in the face of such a devastating loss? Don the guise of "American BOOOM!" and avenge her father's death, that's what. Join us Little Fish Comic Book owners Alonso Nunez & Patrick Yurick as they bring you this exciting adventure about the girl with the exploding fists! 

Squids & Rainbows

Some people would make a comic about squids OR rainbows. We pushed the envelope - we did it about both. Join Little Fish Student Effren Villanueva for this weekly comic that is sure to have your eyes bulging with hilarity. 


Little Fish Comic Book Studio

6822B EL CAJON BLVD., SAN DIEGO CA 92115 - (619) 356.1103

Artist Award: Text

San Diego
Black Arts and Culture Tour

Created by Kim Phillips-Pea

"I'm currently in the process of launching the San Diego Black Arts and Culture Tour. The tour is designed to highlight everything under the sun when it comes to Black Arts and Culture as it relates to our beautiful city dating back to the 1800's. 

I was born and raised here in San Diego and thankfully I've had an opportunity to build spaces for arts and creativity in my community including mural installations and opening art galleries like the Pop Up Art Gallery at Market Creek Plaza, Roots & Vines - Life is Art, Kali Artist Konnect and Oya Art Gallery & Boutique. 

The reason I'm applying for the funding is because I used to be a full-time artist in my community. I loved being able to serve and provide access to our youth during summer art camps and by volunteering. Recently, due to the cost of living, gas, art supplies and everything else, I've had to get a full-time job in order to support my family. 

I will be investing into the tour with my personal finances but I'm limited with the amount I'm able to contribute. Many of our local artists including myself have had to take full-time jobs because there isn't any direct funding for ongoing projects that I know of unless you are an artist with a relationship with a non-profit or there is specific criteria required which I've seen that prevents artists from qualifying for funding opportunities.

"The grant funding would be used to print brochures for the tour and to also help purchase the flip cards that are needed at various tour destinations. 

For example, at the tour destinations where the buildings or structures that are no longer in existence, I want to have a large photo of the location so that we can see it and then close our eyes and fully imagine what it was like during that time period.”

For information on San Diego Black Arts and Culture Tour 


Other ways to interact with Black Art and Artists in San Diego:

Oya Art Gallery & Boutique

6 Hensley Street San Diego, CA 92102

Artist Award: Welcome

Encinitas Friends of the Arts

Encinitas Flea Market Fundraiser for the Pacific View School Renovation into an Arts Center

Surfing Madonna Oceans Project donated Five ($100) booths to this event to be given to five under resourced artists to have a tent at the event. This helped the Encinitas Friends of the Arts have a successful fundraiser and allowed the five artists chosen to show and sell their work.

"Encinitas Friends of the Arts (EFA) sponsors and produces the Encinitas Flea Market. This annual event is an ongoing community fundraiser that started in July of 2017. Funds raised go to support cultural events such as Dia de los Muertos, public art, and mariachi band. Booths rented by artists will not only be used to show their art, but also to offer up-cycled and vintage arts and crafts and decorative objects. One of a kind gifts are the order of the day at the Encinitas Flea Market, where keepsakes and new treasures are abundant."

Artist Award: About
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North Coastal Art Gallery (NCAG)

Supporting Artists in North San Diego County with Programming

We have chosen the first award winner of the Surfing Madonna $500 Artists Award.

We chose the North Coastal Art Gallery for their commitment to artists with shows, demos and student scholarships.  We want to help support them from the difficulties the pandemic caused their funding and sales at the gallery. We believe in their Mission Statement and understand this area of San Diego needs a dedicated group contributing to cultural experiences for the community.

Help support them by visiting the gallery, joining the membership and support the arts!

North Coastal Art Gallery Mission Statement

The North Coastal Art Gallery (NCAG) is a non-profit organization founded to promote art education and the cultural appreciation of fine art in the community. The purpose shall be supported, as funding allows, by demonstrations, student scholarships, outdoor displays, exhibitions, commercial displays, miscellaneous cultural tours, and a main gallery.

Visit the Gallery:

300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Suite 101

Carlsbad, California 92008


Gallery Hours: (admission is free)

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, & Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm 

P.S.T. Friday & Saturday: 11 am - 5 pm 

D.S.T. Friday & Saturday: 11 am - 8 pm 

Closed Tuesday

Artist Award: About
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