Governor Newsom Appoints New California Arts Council Members

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced last month on February 4, 2022, the following appointments to the California Arts Council:

Gerald Clarke is a visual artist, educator, tribal leader, and cultural practitioner whose family has lived in the Anza Valley for time immemorial. As an enrolled citizen of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, Gerald lives in the home his grandfather build (c.1940) on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation and currently oversees the Clarke family cattle ranch. He is currently a Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California Riverside, where he teaches classes in Native American art, history, and culture.

As a visual artist, Gerald has exhibited his work extensively and can be seen in numerous exhibitions as well as major museum collections. In 2007, Gerald was awarded an Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship for Native American Fine Art and served as an Artist-in-Residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2015. In 2020, the Palm Springs Art Museum hosted Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock, the first major retrospective of the artist’s work.

Clarke is a frequent lecturer, speaking about Native art, culture, and social issues. He holds a B.A. in Art from the University of Central Arkansas and M.A./M.F.A. degrees in Painting/Sculpture from Stephen F. Austin State University, located in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Ellen Gavin is a writer/producer living in Los Angeles. Her theater and film work is female-driven and socially conscious, born from her experiences as a passionate lesbian feminist activist. Gavin was the Founder/Artistic Director of the Brava! for Women in the Arts/Brava Theater Center, internationally recognized for nurturing new plays by women and playwrights of color. Gavin led a $6 million campaign to purchase the historic York Theater in the Mission District and renovate it into a state-of-the-art theater complex. Over 23 years, she produced and presented hundreds of premieres by writers such as Suzan-Lori Parks, Cherrie Moraga, Cherylene Lee, Culture Clash, Gillian Slovo, Eve Ensler, Diana Son, Joan Holden and Dan Guerrero, and world-renowned musicians such as Lesley Gore, Los Panchos, Ojos de Brujo, Teague and Sarah, Lila Downs, Ely Guerra, and Richie Havens. BRAVA’s S.F. Running Crew has operated for more than two decades, training a new generation of diverse technical theater professionals.

Gavin was one of the first female firefighters in the San Diego Fire Department, assigned to one of the busiest stations in the city. Her life-and-death experiences inspired her play, The Roof’s on Fire! directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, and a current dramatic series about a crew of renegade female firefighters stationed at the border. Gavin’s play, Stardust and Empty Wagons, chronicled the harrowing experiences of 25 Katrina survivors while celebrating the musical history of New Orleans. Accompanied live by the renowned Hot Eight Brass Band, it received awards from the NEA and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Gavin was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, whose immigrant residents fomented the “Bread and Roses” Strike of 1912 that ended child labor. Her feature Rebels and Roses was inspired by the stories of it told at her grandmother’s knee. Gavin was the recipient of the LAVA Award (Lesbian of Action and Vision), San Francisco Magazine’s Artistic Achievement Award, the Bay Guardian Local Hero Award and GOLDie Local Discovery Awards, as well as travel fellowships to Cuba, Mexico, and Central America. In 2009, then Mayor Gavin Newsom declared Ellen Gavin Day, in honor of her contributions to San Francisco’s cultural life. She is currently on the Advisory Council for Farmworker Justice and the National Fundraising Committee for Beto O’Rourke for Governor of Texas. She is an aficionado of modern architecture and interior design, scuba diving, gardening, and yoga.

Phil Mercado is the Regional Chief of General Surgery for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG). In this role, he coordinates and oversees the delivery of General Surgical care for 4.5 million Kaiser Permanente members in Southern California.

In addition to his role within SCPMG, Dr. Mercado is a Clinical Instructor in the Harbor/UCLA Department of Surgery and is a well-respected member of numerous national surgical organizations including the American College of Surgeons, Society of Surgical Oncology, American Society of Breast Surgeons, and the Pacific Coast Surgical Association.

Dr. Mercado and his husband, entertainment executive Todd Quinn, are major supporters of the arts and dedicated public servants. Since 2012, Dr. Mercado has served on the Board of Advisors (formerly the Board of Overseers) at The Hammer Museum and they are founding members of both Contemporary Friends, an art acquisition group at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Friends of Photography at UCLA Department of Art. He also serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner, a member of the National Finance Team for the Democratic National Committee and was a member of the national finance teams for the last 2 Democratic presidential campaigns (Clinton/Kaine and Biden/Harris).  Lastly, Dr. Mercado is a parent ambassador for the Harvard Westlake Admissions Department, as well as Vice Chair of their Annual Giving program. He, his husband, and their three children live in Hollywood.

Roxanne Messina Captor is an Emmy-nominated writer, director, and producer, and a directing protégé of Francis Ford Coppola. She was awarded the Chevalier de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France in 2005, and the Ohio State Award for the CBS movie Home Sweet Homeless. She is also an accomplished theatre director and choreographer.

Messina Captor was one of the founding original programming executives of Turner Network Television and the former executive director of the SF International Film Festival and Society, where she increased box office and attendance by 40 percent. Messina Captor’s first career was on Broadway. She was also assistant choreographer to Gene Kelly on One From the Heart. She serves on the Policy-Making Committee for Governor Gavin Newsom, and the Policy Committee for the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges. In addition to the New York Film Academy, Messina Captor is a professor at Santa Monica College, heading up documentary production. She is a former faculty member at Emerson College LA and Cal-Arts. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Who’s Who in America, NAPTE, and Greenlight Women.

New members’ terms expire in 2026.

Media Inquiries:
Kimberly Brown
Public Affairs Specialist

# # #

The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Chair; Consuelo Montoya, Vice Chair; Gerald Clarke, Vicki Estrada, Jodie Evans, Stanlee Gatti, Ellen Gavin, Alex Israel, Phil Mercado, Roxanne Messina Captor, and Jonathan Moscone. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit

Subscribe to the California ArtBeat weekly newsletter

Skip to content