The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center Congratulates the Recipients of the Awards of Excellence

Dec 10, 2012 - 11:07 am

In 2009, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center Advisory Board established the Award of Excellence. This recognition is for those individuals and groups that have demonstrated significant leadership and have made meaningful contributions in Latino cultural arts.

The Award of Excellence is to be granted as the highest distinction and celebration of a lasting contribution, artistic excellence and dedication, or leadership with distinguished service and outstanding performance.

This year’s nominees for the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center’s Award of Excellence are nominated by their peers for their significant leadership and contributions in Latino cultural arts. This year’s nominees are:

Mr. Dan Arellano

The Latino Theater Alliance (ALTA)

Mr. Johnny Degollado

Mr. Manuel “Cowboy” Donley

Mr. Alfredo Estrada

Ms. Gloria “La Tejana” Morales

Mr. Anthony Ortiz, Jr.

Mr. Juan Jose Sanchez

Mr. Miguel Angel Santana

Mr. Raul Valdez


Ms. Claudia Zapata

We congratulate and thank all of our nominees for their outstanding work. Your contributions do not go unrecognized.


And the winners are:


The Service category of the Award is for those who have exhibited outstanding service in the Latino cultural arts. The winner for this year is Claudia Zapata, one of Austin’s well-known curators, whose innovative exhibitions and educational programming has been featured at the Mexic-Arte Museum, the Serie Project, and Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Check out her recently founded Chingozine for local news in the Latino art scene.

Our Patronage Award goes to Alfredo Estrada for his significant contributions in support of the Latino cultural arts. Alfredo is the founding editor of Latino magazine, and is also behind the nonprofit organization No Mas Hambre that last year alone collected over 1,000 pounds of food for the Capital Area Food Bank. He organizes the annual Nuestro Futuro Latino Education conference in Washington D.C., and has generously allowed two students to attend a summer camp at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on scholarship.

Our Emerging Artist category represents those age 15-25 who have shown innovative and exceptional accomplishments in the Latino cultural arts. Our winner this year is Anthony Ortiz Jr., who has mastered accordion and has played with his father and grandfather in their band Mariachi Corbetas, as well as shared the stage with Hank Williams Jr. and Julio Inglesias. Having been recognized with Resolution Number 1988 from the Texas House of Representatives and won several awards, he currently teaches accordion classes at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center and is highly regarded as a role model to his students.



Emerging Artist Anthony Ortiz Jr. accepting his Award of Excellence from Austin City Council member Laura Morrison.



In the area of Theater, our winner is the Austin Latino Theater Alliance (ALTA). Operating for 14 years with the mission of uniting and supporting the different Latino and Hispanic theater groups in Austin, ALTA works to foster the development of new talents in the theater arts, promote collaborative productions among local and international artists, and bring the highest quality theater to Austin’s Latino and Hispanic communities with Hispanic and Latin American productions that transcend borders and unite different groups and audiences.

Our Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts goes to Raul Valdez, who has been an active leader in the Latino community for decades. He is an artist, teacher, and advocate and some of his most notable murals can be found on school walls throughout Austin, including the University of Texas School of Social Work, and the A.B. Cantu Pan-American Recreation Center. He has become a symbol of what the arts can do for the public when they are supported.

For the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music, the selection committee felt that Johnny Degollado and Manuel “Cowboy” Donley equally deserved this award. As one of Austin’s leading conjunto accordionists, Johnny Degollado y Su Conjunto has promoted conjunto music in Austin and has written over 200 songs and recorded over 350. Johnny was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 1986, and has been the event coordinator for the Austin Conjunto Festival for 20 years. Listen to a sample of his music here.



Johnny Degollado accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence from Austin City Council member Laura Morrison.



Our second recipient for the Lifetime Achievement Award in Music is Manuel “Cowboy” Donley. Known by many as the “Godfather of Tejano Music,” Donley has been a pioneer and innovator, combining traditional Mexican sounds with rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm-and-blues, and big band swing in his orquesta, Las Estrellas. Like Johnny Degollado, Manuel was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 1986 and has had a neighborhood park named after him by the City of Austin. The Governor of Texas announced a Proclamation in Manuel’s honor last year. Manuel continues his contributions to Tejano music and his community by teaching guitar lessons at Huston-Tillotson College and at his own home.

Manuel “Cowboy” Donley is pictured below alongside Herlinda Zamora and Linda Crockett in front of a painting by Alejandro Moreno Alanis. This painting is the first ever portrait of four related musical legends from the Guerrero and Donley families of East Austin: Ramon Guerrero Donley, his cousin, Longinos “Lonnie” Guerrero; Lonnie’s son, Luis “Louie” Guerrero, and Ramon’s son Manuel “Cowboy” Donley. The artwork was commissioned by Louie’s son, Sergio Guerrero and it was unveiled and presented by Alanis and the Texas Music Museum of Austin for the first time to Manuel “Cowboy” Donley on February 26, 2012. The Guerrero y Donley portrait was donated to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center on November 29th, 2012 to help continue the preservation of Mexican American cultural arts and heritage.


Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence, with Herlinda Zamora (Left) and Linda Crockett of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.