Keeper of the Flame Past Recipients

Sorensen Flame SculptureEach year,  Sierra Art Trails presents community awards to schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals who support the arts.

The awards we present are determined by our annual revenue.  After our expenses are paid, and a seed budget has been set aside for the following year, the balance is donated to worthy organizations, programs, or individuals.  The more successful we are, the more we can give back each year. Since 2003 we have presented over $24,000 in awards.  These moneys are raised through artist fees, donations, catalog advertising, and our annual fundraising efforts.

For more information, or to make a donation call 559-658-8844 or email:

The Keeper of the Flame

2021 Recipient – Carolyn Hartling

Carolyn Hartling is a significant part of our art community. She is an accomplished and award-winning artist, her work influenced by the beauty and intrigue of the natural world.

She was a board member of Timberline Gallery for many years, is currently a board member of the Sierra Art Trails, one of the founding members of the new Yosemite Gateway Art Center, and is active in the Yosemite Sierra Artists group (formerly Yosemite Western Artists).

She has curated or co-curated countless exhibits and has a wonderful eye for design.  Whatever needs to be done shew is there, installing exhibits, volunteering at events, or demonstrating her craft. Her presence makes the process easier and fun for everyone. She is always upbeat and never says “no”. She works hard, makes it seem effortless, AND always looks like a million bucks!

We love her, and are grateful for her friendship, presence in our community, and the many talents she shares.

2019 Recipient – Donald Munro, arts journalist and host of The Munro Review

2018 Recipient – Branches Books & Gifts

2017 Recipient – Janet & Rick Flores of KFCF 88.1 FM, Free Speech Radio

2016 Recipient – Allard’s Art

2015 Recipient – Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau

The Visitors Bureau has supported arts and culture in our area for many years, recognizing the value of Cultural Tourism in encouraging visitors to explore our area.  The attraction of Yosemite , and our strategic position as a “Gateway to the Sierra” benefits us all with thousands of visitors a year, but it is a warm welcome that encourages people to stay the night, eat at local restaurants, and shop in our stores and galleries.  The Visitors Bureau works to promote locate arts organizations, including Madera County Arts Council, Yosemite Western Artists, and the galleries at Yosemite Gateway Gallery Row. The annual Yosemite Festival and Fall Festival entice regional visitors with art, music, history, and special guests.  YSVB has contributed to Sierra Art Trails as a major sponsor since 2009, supporting our efforts to build a thriving art community and establish our area as an arts destination.

2014 Recipient – Chris Sorensen Studio

We are proud to present the 2014 Keeper of the Flame award to Chris Sorensen Studio, and honored to pass the award back to the man who created the flame itself.

Sorensen Studio / Gallery in Fresno continues to improve and expand into a thriving art collective, offering spaces for artists to work and to show.  Sorensen Gallery hosts some of the most popular exhibits in the region, including The Pink Show, Nudes in November, The Black and White show, and Art Scientifique.

Chris Sorensen is one of Fresno ‘s most revered artists. His generosity and dedication to the arts is well known. When Mariposa Arts Council lost its headquarters in 2012 due to tragic fire, Chris organized a fundraiser. The annual Pink Show raises money for breast cancer research. His contributions to the Sorensen Sculpture project at Gallery Row in Oakhurst made the project possible. These are only a few of the many examples of his philanthropy.

Sorensen Studio Gallery, located on 2223 South Van Ness Ave in Fresno , is a focal point for the arts, and houses the studios of many other artists. At 89 years old Chris is still going strong, a supreme example of what it means to have a passion for the arts.

2013 Recipient – Children’s Museum of the Sierra

We are proud to present the Keeper of the Flame award to the “Children’s Museum of the Sierra”, a hand’s on discovery center and exploratorium which provides a venue for young people that stimulates imagination and encourages interaction. Their programs stimulate an interest in art, culture, science, and history. Their displays and programs encourage creative thinking, educating through experience and interactive play. The museum was founded in 1995 by a group of parents and individuals interested in creating specialized programs for young people. In 1997 the museum was awarded a grant by United Way of Madera County allowing it to open to the public in a 1,000 sq. foot site. They soon outgrew this space and in 2000 moved into their current 4,000 sq. foot location.

Through the combined efforts of the museum and the Madera County Arts Council, art and photography classes were offered during the summer of 2012, thanks to a Chukchansi Community Grant.  Other recent family-friendly events include a YHS Senior Project Bake Sale, a Nature Scavenger Hunt and a visit by representatives of the Fresno Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Service.

We encourage you to donate to this very special organization.  Funds are generated by private contributions and earned income from membership, admission fees, grants, gift shop sales and special fundraising events. To make a donation, or for a list of current events, visit their website at

Congratulations Children’s Museum of the Sierra!

2012 Recipient – Mariposa County Arts Council

Over the years, MCAC has supported many of our most treasured cultural events.  The Mariposa Storytelling Festival features three days of spoken word performance by artists from far and wide. The Mariposa Symphony, founded and directed by Les Marsden, performs at local schools, parks, and other venues, bringing classical and popular music to the community. Cousin Jack’s Mariposa Evenings fill the air with music on leisurely summer evenings in downtown Mariposa.  These programs and many others make the Mariposa Arts Council one of the cornerstone organizations in our creative community.

2011 recipient – Golden Chain Theatre

The Golden Chain’s traditional 19th century melodrama is an Oakhurst institution. appealing to visitors and locals alike. Since 1968 this non-profit, all volunteer organization has served the community in a variety of ways benefitting the arts and surrounding communities. The Golden Chain’s encourages both new and seasoned actors, performers, dancers, theater groups and set designers to enhance and grow their skills. Additionally, the theater supports local organizations by providing a setting for fundraisers and performances.

2010 recipient – Madera County Arts Council

For long-standing service to the arts in our area. MCAC was established in 1982 by the Madera County Board of Supervisors. Since then, they have provided Madera County residents and visitors access to art and culture through diverse programs and services.  The council promotes art education by offering teaching opportunities to area artists that enrich school curricula in a time when public funding for the arts has become increasingly scarce.  The Arts Council regularly seeks grant opportunities to support art related community and marketing opportunities that enrich our area as a cultural destination.

2009 recipient – Timberline Gallery

Timberline Gallery is the oldest established fine arts gallery in Madera County.  In 1985 thirty members founded “The Guild of Mountain Artists”.  At first they displayed their work in local offices, banks, restaurants, and Yosemite Western Artist exhibits.  The gallery opened its doors in 1989, and over the past 20 years, has offered innumerable exhibits, workshops, special events, and student artist programs.  We are proud to offer the Keeper of the Flame Award to Timberline Gallery for their dedication to the arts, and for enriching, educating, and enhancing the quality of life in our community.

2008 recipient – Yosemite Western Artists

YWA was founded in 1969 by a group of artists and art enthusiasts interested in sharing their work and experience, and learning more about the arts.  The organization continues to this day as a community sponsored enterprise dedicated to the development of the visual arts in the area.

Learn more about YWA at

2007 recipient – Sixth Street Cinema in Mariposa

Awarded for presenting avante guard, independent, educational, and controversial films in an environment that encourages community involvement.

Sorensen Trio Photo