Past Honorees


2022 Honorees

Press Release 2022

Sunni Wilkinson - Literary Arts

Sunni Brown Wilkinson is the author of two poetry books: The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press, 2019) and The Ache & The Wing (winner of Sundress Publications’ 2020 Chapbook Prize and the Association of Mormon Letters Poetry Award 2021). Her work has been awarded New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize, the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, and the Sherwin W. Howard Award, and has been runner-up for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Nina Riggs Poetry Award. She has read and led workshops at numerous events statewide and within Weber County. Sunni has also taught at Weber State University for 17 years as an adjunct instructor and currently teaches courses on Creative Writing and Drama. In conjunction with other Ogden writers, she helps run Railtown Readings, a local reading series held at the Weber County Main Library where attendees can hear award-winning and local writers, buy their books, and participate in an open mic. For the last two years, she has helped lead Weber Book Links to bring a number of literary events to Weber County, including authors in the schools, a Humanities in the Wild stargazing event, a panel on self-publishing, and a variety of readings and presentations throughout Weber County for the Utah Humanities Book Festival. She also helps run the local Poemball machines, poetry dispensers around town that offer a poem by a Utah writer for 25 cents, and all proceeds go toward putting books of local writers in the schools. She is also part of the Weber County RAMP Committee. Sunni lives in Pleasant View with her husband Sean and their three boys. 

Sunni Wilkinson_ photo 1

Leon Araujo - Emerging Artist 

Leon Araujo also known as Noise Explosion is a self-taught Latinx visual artist based out of Ogden, Utah. He specializes in digital media, murals, and photography but all kinds of visual arts are exciting to him. Noise explosion was born in Toluca, Estado de Mexico, Mexico, and carries some of his heritage into his artworks. Known for his wide variety of vibrant, bold, and contemporary styles, Leon dreams of sharing his talents with communities all around the world. The diversity in his art shines through music videos, interviews, abstract illustrations, creative portrait photography, branding, and more.

Noise Explosion has always been making art growing up, however, it wasn't until the pandemic of 2020 that Leon was able to utilize his talents for the betterment of his community. As traffic died down for businesses in Ogden, he began sketching out his favorite restaurants and coffee shops. These sketches contained the business information, favorite items, and a way to support them. This series titled “Sketching Ogden” got shares all across social media and boosted Noise Explosion to the front of the crowd. The series ended up being featured as the digital cover for Indie Ogden in 2020. Since then, Leon has been commissioned for projects such as murals, videos, photography, graphic design, commercials, and illustrations. He has also worked with multiple organizations including Indie Ogden, Good Company Theater, Ogden Downtown Alliance and Nurture the Creative Mind. Leon is the owner of Noel Creative House and the Creative Director for Rail City Productions. He directs a video blog series called OGtv where they showcase and highlight Ogden’s local artists.

Serving on the City Arts Advisory Committee, Nine Rails Creative District subcommittee, and the Dia de los Muertos Committee (NCM), Leon aims to continue improving his community and help Ogden become an arts destination. As a Spanish speaker, Leon helps with community outreach when it's needed, having done so in the past with the Dumkee Arts Plaza planning, translating questionnaires, and inviting the Latinx/Hispanic community to art events in Ogden. Leon Araujo’s art has been showcased in multiple locations such as the Consulado de Mexico in Salt Lake City, The Bonneville, The Monarch in Ogden, all over 25th street, the Standard-Examiner as well as in murals in Ogden, and South Jordan, Utah. What sets him apart from others is his community-focused approach and his use of his art to promote other artists and businesses. Getting to know so many members of his community on a personal level and being able to collaborate with various talented artists are some of his proudest achievements.

Leon Araujo

Sara Meess - Extraordinary Contribution 

 Sara Meess is the Business Development Division Manager for Ogden City. Sara oversees the division's strategy to enhance community prosperity by retaining and attracting businesses that create high-quality jobs and invest in the community. She is also involved in the city’s placemaking projects, including the Nine Rails Creative District and the Dumke Arts Plaza. 

Before coming to Ogden City, Sara worked in archaeology, historic preservation, and environmental consulting around the state of Utah. Sara studied Anthropology at UC Berkeley and later obtained her Master’s in City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. Sara enjoys reading, skiing, and exploring Ogden on foot.

Nine Rails_PlanOpenHouse_May2017_AmyMills

Logan Iverson - Arts in Education (individual)

Logan has been creating art his whole life. He became interested in ceramics in high school and went on to receive a full-ride scholarship for his artwork at the University of Utah. He received his Bachelor´s degree in ceramics and sculpture from the U and his Master´s degree in Education from Weber State University. He teaches ceramics full-time at Ben Lomond High School. His specialty is classical figure sculpting, but he can do it all. Logan is very charismatic, loves to get to know new people, and loves teaching. He is married to Kayla, his junior high sweetheart, and they share 3 beautiful daughters, 1 dog, 2 cats, and 4 chickens.  


Roxanne Vigos - Folk Arts

Roxanne Vigos is a jewelry and textile artist living in Ogden, Utah. The natural world and the idea of place have often been themes in Roxanne's work. Growing up she moved frequently and she believes this fed her need to connect with her sense of place. Roxanne’s interests have focused on wearable art and she has always been drawn to the history of materials used in adornment and the story behind how and where the raw materials are made. She began stringing and sewing many of these elements of time and place into her work. Much of Roxanne’s early professional jewelry-making experience came from working at a local bead shop where she repaired and created custom work while learning the best ways to create durable and aesthetically pleasing pieces. Her jewelry design, Ice Trap Lariat, was published in the book “The Beaders Stash” in 2006. In 2008 Roxanne started her own company focused on specialty handmade accessories and she began to create one-of-a-kind personal talismans from natural beads and fiber. In 2014 she felt compelled to explore the language of plants and trees through natural dyes and pigments and sought master teachers in the field to gain experience in an old and nearly lost art. After the workshops, she then began to identify and test local plants and trees in her area for dye potential again finding a way to embrace place. Roxanne created her own laboratory and dye studio with materials sourced in her own backyard and began to see this resonated with her personal goal of leading a more sustainable and holistic life; while uniting the internal and external world of nature and human connection. Being mindful of the materials used and the impact they may have on the planet is a core practice of her work. This process of creating became a way to communicate with her own environment in a deeply spiritual context and this is where Roxanne cultivated an approach to art that revealed the meaning in every material she utilized. You can find her work and classes at The Local Artisan Collective in downtown Ogden, Utah. 


Imagine Music - Arts in Education (Organization)

David Owen hails from Hartville, Ohio…a small farming village south of Cleveland. Inspired by the 1990 musical explosion and MTV, David was inspired and began playing drums at age 12 and shortly afterward began teaching himself guitar (dissecting his favorite songs by ear) starting with Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, and The Smashing Pumpkins. David’s fate was sealed after playing his first “major” performance — a 9th-grade talent show — and decided to become a rock star.

After playing in bands throughout his teens, David embarked on his first US tour, in his early twenties.  Shortly thereafter, David was recruited by a band quickly gaining national recognition, and they eventually signed a deal with Columbia Records. This sparked a whirlwind adventure of constant touring; sharing stages with the likes of Panic! at the Disco, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, The Plain White T’s, and Blue October. Hanging out with Miley Cyrus in Hollywood, Katy Perry in a small bar in Ohio, and watching other rising stars succeed beyond their wildest dreams…a bonafide adventure.

After many years of zig-zagging the nation & world, David met an amazing and beautiful girl named Jeni (who ultimately became his wife) and settled down (kind of) in Ogden, Utah. David took a year to focus on his health and spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and contemplating the next step in life.  

One day a family friend asked if David (still jobless) would teach their teenage daughter how to play guitar. Having never done so, David thought, “Why not?” and gave it a go…turns out it was really fun, which gave David a much-appreciated fresh perspective… Sharing the love of music with others, and helping them enjoy it for themselves was life-changing. To give, is the answer.   

Nearly 10 years ago, Imagine Music opened its doors on Ogden’s East Bench with a fresh approach to teaching that, coupled with a business model that ensures teachers earn a living wage, fueled incredible growth. Creative programming such as Rock Academy (which teaches students fundamentals of playing in a rock band) and performing concerts in our local community has proven outrageously successful. Additionally, Open Mic Nights on the Imagine Music Stage gives students across all instruments the opportunity to perform for family and friends in a loving and supportive atmosphere. 

Imagine Music’s original Ogden location now has a teaching staff of 20+ incredibly talented teachers, working with 300+ enthusiastic students on a weekly basis.

The key to Imagine Music’s success is not David Owen. It is the amazing music teachers whom he is fortunate to be surrounded by. Teachers who are enthusiastic, unbelievably accomplished and talented, and who have a relentless passion and drive to share the beauty of music, lovingly with others. 


Caril Jennings - Lifetime Achievement Award

Caril Jennings has spent 72 of her 74 years in Ogden. These mountains are her home 

She has been an active supporter and advocate for the arts since junior high school. She was selected for All-State Choir in High School and played Laura in The Glass Menagerie. In college, she learned all the theatre crafts and performed on stage many times. Her favorite role: Lysistrata. Later in life, she was on stage again in WSU’s production of “Grapes of Wrath” as Ma Joad. She has supported productions with Eccles Community Theatre and once with Pygmalion Company.  

Marriage and children changed the focus of her arts, as she shared her love of music, dance, theatre, and painting with her children and in her children’s schools.

 She honed her professional skills as an art reporter for the WSU Signpost 1984-86, and by assisting with the WSU National Western Film Festival in 1985. She was a Board Member of the Myra Powell Gallery from 1986-90 when she stepped down to write a bi-monthly column for Ogden’s Standard-Examiner - Art Beat, 1990-1995.  

After years of employment in the public sector, she worked as the WSU Department of Performing Arts secretary, from 1990-1997. She earned a BIS degree from WSU in 1995, 29 years after high school, while working full time in the department:  *Bachelor of Integrated Studies: Philosophy, Anthropology, Geospatial Analysis. She became the DPA Marketing Director in 1997, retiring in 2013. Her claim to fame during those years was the calendar she produced each semester listing ALL of the university and professional performing arts in our community. It was very impressive to see how much our community supported and provided performing arts.  It had a place on many refrigerators across the county.

 Continuing her love of theatre from high school and university, she produced Readers Theatre with her friends. Her Greek Readers Theatre produced all of Aristaphanes existing plays, as well as many local and national playwrights. The company of friends, Readers Allowed/Aloud, produced many excerpts from Howard Zinn and most recently produced “The Investigation” (Mueller Report) in 2019.

 She produced the free, one-hour, all-ages Jazz at the Station on the second Wednesday of each month since January 1998, retiring in the summer of 2021 due to health issues. She served on the Chamber Orchestra Ogden Board. She marketed WSU’s part of Weber Reads! for many years. She was on the original committee for the Weber State Gospel Music Festival in 2000. She ensured its survival by asking the WSU Diversity Center to be its permanent home. She has offered her services to non-profit organizations and events supporting many causes including health and diversity issues. She and one of her projects have received two Ogden Mayor’s Awards for the Arts: 2013 Arts Advocate and 2018 Performing Arts for Jazz at the Station. 

Her family operated Universe City, a community art center, from 2004-2011, producing more than 100 exhibits and events featuring local artists of an extraordinary variety. She continued to produce art exhibits in various venues throughout the community, operating as Universe City Lives! Topics have included Jazz from the Station, Basin and Range, and Costumes. 

 The pandemic stopped the momentum. Look for her next exhibit Spring 2023: Jazz FROM the Station: 25th Street, Desegregation, and All that Jazz III. This exhibit will share more about the contributions of Anna Belle Weakly, the woman Joe McQueen said made him famous. She’s also shopping a proposal for a Joe McQueen Heritage Jazz Festival next spring. 

The most remarkable thing that she has accomplished is to bring the arts into her life in every way she could. She says, “ I am so much richer for it!”

Caril Headshot
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