Nilda Garces has been pulling strings for years to bring folk tales from all over the world to Bronx children.
This year, the puppeteer’s efforts are being rewarded, along with 24 other Bronx artists.
The Bronx Council on the Arts has named them recipients of this year’s Bronx Recognizes Its Own Awards (BRIO) for artistic excellence in all aspects of the arts, including crafts, music, and writing.
Garces is a bilingual self-taught artist in the genres of puppetry and mask making.
She was born in New York City and has been living in the Throggs Neck section for over 20 years.
As the mother of three sons, she formed a family Marionette Troupe.
The group, sponsored by the Bronx and Westchester Councils of Arts, performed at the Bronx Zoo, Hispanic Coliseum Fair, schools, libraries and cultural institutions.
After her sons went on to high school and college, Garces worked at Columbia University as the departmental administrator of the Spanish and Portuguese Departments.
In 1999 she received a Creative Arts Therapies Certificate from The New School. She volunteered for six years at Montefiore Medical Center’s Child Life Program and its Free Arts for Abused Children program, using puppetry as therapy.
She also designed 16 multi-cultural productions.
Among other BRIO award winners this year were Laura Goldberg for poetry, Adel Morales for narrative film video, Igor Begelman for instrumental music, Sharyn Finnegan for painting, and Sean Paul Gallegos for sculpture.
They will each receive a total grant of $3,000 and must complete a one-time public service activity to receive the complete cash award.
Known as the ACE (Artists for Community Enrichment), this activity is an essential component for all BRIO recipients and must be performed within a one-year period of their award.
Garces said she is not yet sure what her public service activity will be.
“It will probably be a show at a school or a fair, you know something with puppetry,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful honor and I couldn’t have done it without the Bronx Council on the Arts,” she said.
“We have been partners for years. I’ve been with them since 1975. We were all young back then, and we were a very small group. Over the years their encouragement has been great.”
Since its start in 1989, the BRIO awards have provided more than $725,000 to 260 artists.
The awardees are selected solely on the artistic excellence of the work submitted and judged anonymously by a panel of professional artists, varying each year, from outside the Bronx and working in each respective field.
An award reception and networking event will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 1st at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College.
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394