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The Seattle Arts Commission welcomes four new commissioners

The Seattle Arts Commission (SAC) has welcomed four new commissioners Rick Araluce, Ebony Arunga, Vivian Hua and Vanessa Villalobos. They all bring a wealth of experience and diverse artistic backgrounds to SAC that will be invaluable as the commission navigates advocating for the arts and culture sector which has been devasted by the pandemic. 

Born in 1960, Rick Araluce has been a life long artist. At an early age Rick began creating drawings, paintings, hand-fashioned objects, miniature scenarios, plastic models—creations depicting whatever piqued his interest at the time. He put his efforts into being a painter originally, though began to create and evolve his artwork towards a more sculptural realm, and in the 1990s began making detailed miniatures a primary focus of his work. This he continues to this day. Along the way, Rick began to work in a larger form, ultimately creating complex immersive installations which incorporated multiple media, including lighting, sound, motion, and computer automation. These have been some of Rick’s most noteworthy endeavors. He has among other artistic pursuits created book and album illustration, art-directed and created work for a number of animated music videos, and has had his artwork featured in a handful of commercial films. For 20 years, Rick was a Lead Scenic Artist with Seattle Opera, until the Opera’s closure of its scene shop, though he continues this work as a Master Scenic Artist employed by Arts Tech Group, a scenery and event fabrication company where he oversees and runs multiple facets of the artistic side of production. He is essentially self-taught, having chosen to forgo university and art school. Nonetheless, Rick has secured some significant achievements, including a Pollock/Krasner in 2009, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Award in 2010 and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. As an individual coming from a low-resource background, Rick has acquired a degree of understanding and empathy for the challenges of those coming from less privileged and non-traditional backgrounds who have chosen the artist’s path.  

Ebony Arunga is an arts manager, advocate and entrepreneur. She was born in Kisumu, Kenya and raised in the historically Black Central District of Seattle, Washington as part of a multi-faceted artistic family. In 2008 she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, with a BFA in Theatre with an emphasis on Stage Management and has since managed artists, projects and events both nationally and internationally. Her work spans across arts genres including theatre, film, music, dance, and literature. Ebony’s presence in the Seattle arts scene grew prevalent through her work as an event producer at the legendary Faire Gallery Cafe. Carrying on the legacy of her mother, Marcia Tate Arunga, Ebony and her sister Nia re-launched Seaweed International in 2017, a Black owned business specializing in jewelry imported from Kenya with the mission to provoke a new consciousness in social justice and beauty. In 2020, she teamed up with Ijeoma Oluo, Gabriel Teodros and LANGSTON to manage the Seattle Artist Relief Fund (SARF), the largest COVID-19 relief effort geared towards directly supporting artists in Washington State. Ebony serves on the board of LANGSTON and was a 2020 Office of Arts and Culture BASE (Building Art’s Spaces Equitably) cohort member. She resides in Seattle.  

Vivian Hua 華婷婷 is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer. As the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum in Seattle and Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary arts publication, REDEFINE, much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They regularly share human-centered stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE! In 2021, they will [hopefully] begin production on a comedic Asian-American series entitled Reckless Spirits. They are passionate about cultural space preservation and creation, as well as seeking ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. Learn more about their work at  

Vanessa Villalobos is a performing artist, choreographer, producer and non-profit consultant from Lima, Peru with Indigenous, African and Spanish ancestry. She presented hundreds of original works and danced with companies in New York, Seattle, and more. She has degrees in Theatre and Dance from the University of Washington and earned her MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University.  She co-founded creative company VANICH Multimedia (NY) and is the founder of (WA). She is a seasoned Teaching Artist having worked in many public and private schools in Seattle and New York. Trained in contemporary, ballet, jazz and Ballroom Theatre Arts, she is a certified American Ballroom Rhythm & Smooth instructor. Film credits include MadHot Ballroom and Walt Disney’s Enchanted where she was a principal dancer. Her dedication to racial equity is expressed through her community work with 501Commons, the Covid-19 Response Alliance, La Sala, the Dance Educators Association of Washington and Seattle University’s Center for the Study of Justice in Society. Vanessa’s cross-industry expertise has brought forth opportunities to help influence funding decisions on behalf of the Washington State Arts Commission, 4 Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.