Sac State alumnus awarded Leff-Davis Grant for Visual Artists

State Hornet Staff

Sacramento State alumnus, Bryan Valenzuela, was recently awarded a $5,000 Leff-Davis Grant for Visual Artists from the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to support advancement in his art career.  

Emily Leff, retired pathologist and art collector, established the Leff-Davis Grant for Visual Artists to support local visual artists who show great commitment to their work.

“For many years, I have wanted to create something lasting that would recognize artists for their essential contribution to our culture, and also help them financially to create art,” Leff said. “I chose the foundation to help me realize this longtime ambition because of their superior experience and outreach in the Sacramento region.”

For more than a decade, Valenzuela has focused his artwork using a technique of drawing that incorporates handwritten text with pen and ink. His technique varies in large or microscopic text that carves out shape and shading in his work.

“Text is like a subliminal thing that I kind of think is all around us,” Valenzuela said. “It’s something I sort of developed or discovered more than anything and trying to use language as a way to describe the world as well as visually. All that text comes from automatic writing, journals, poetry and scripts.”

Valenzuela said he incorporates text in all his art pieces and it usually takes him one to three months to complete a piece, though he never has a story behind his pieces because visual language is hard to describe.

“Sometimes things are subconscious,” Valenzuela said. “Basically I kind of get an image and I try to chase and I try to see what kind of content comes along with discovering it on the way.”

Valenzuela graduated from Sac State in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in studio art and said his professors played an integral part in inspiring him and helping to find his own style.

“At that time, all those professors that I had were extremely inspiring,” Valenzuela said. “And to work with people who are masters of their craft and to be able to learn from those people is a reward in itself.”

Kurt Von Meier and Linda Day, were two art professors who impacted Valenzuela the most before they passed away.

“Both were super crazy, inspiring to me on different levels,” Valenzuela said. “I still sometimes look at notes I took from Kurt’s classes. His lectures were genius level.”

Prior to the Leff-Davis grant, Valenzuela said he had never done a grant proposal.

“I was pretty stoked to have won,” Valenzuela said. “ Grants are amazing. They basically give you money to just create.”

For more than 30 years, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation has served as a financial support for local community organizations. As a provider of philanthropic services in the Sacramento area, the foundation connects with donors who want to give back to their community through grants and scholarships.

“The foundation was very pleased to be able to offer this fund to the visual artists community and see this inaugural launch as a groundbreaking opportunity to benefit the rich and diverse field of visual artists in the Sacramento region,” said Chief Giving Officer Priscilla Enriquez.

Sac State alumnus and communications associate for the Sacramento Region Community Foundation Luis Sosa, said the Leff-Davis fund is an example of how the Foundation impacts the community including Sac State.

“Being a recent graduate, I know how busy life can be balancing school and work and often students forget or are not aware of how many grants and scholarship opportunities are available,” Sosa said.

Sosa said he hopes Sac State students can become aware of the several grants and scholarships the foundation offers. Grants and scholarships vary from $500 to $5,000.

Valenzuela said he plans to use the Leff-Davis grant on studio and promotional costs, buying new equipment and to make more affordable prints.