Like us on Facebook      Follow us on Twitter   

15th Annual Orange County Arts Awards Honoree Profile:
Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award for Arts Patrons

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of our 15th Annual Orange County Arts Awards honorees.


Valerie and Hans Imhof, nominated by the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale, are longtime patrons who have contributed greatly to the success of those and other local arts organizations, like South Coast Repertory and Laguna Playhouse.  Hans joined the Board of Directors of the Pacific Symphony Association in 1993 and is a life member.  The role he especially enjoyed in this position was as Chairman of the Education Department and of the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles.   Valerie, studied violin and played Principal Second Violin in the Orange Coast Symphony.  In 1994, she met Kelly Ruggirello, who was then the first Director of Education at Pacific Symphony, and under her leadership founded "Class Act," a nationally recognized program that connects Pacific Symphony musicians with selected elementary schools in Orange County by "adopting" them for a year. The program currently serves 30 schools and is celebrating its 20th year.  The program currently serves 30 schools and is celebrating its 20th year. She is still serving as Chairman.   In 2004 she was invited to become a member of the Pacific Chorale Board and serves on the Education Committee.


Hans, a native of Switzerland, grew up in a small village outside of Zurich on a large family farm.   His interest in classical music began when he was a student at the University of Zurich, where he graduated in 1965 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He immigrated to the United States the next year and worked for General Electric in Philadelphia. In 1969 he moved to Borg Warner Controls in Santa Ana as manager of engineering. In 1972 he started EPE Technologies in Costa Mesa, a manufacturing firm which built power protection equipment for computers. The company grew from 2 to 550 employees and $65 million in sales. He sold the company in 1990 to Merlin Gerin, a billion dollar French company. In 1992 he founded 8 different companies, four of which he is still actively involved with which include commercial real estate, software, computer fire protection and video/film editing. Hans' hobbies include tennis, skiing, mountain climbing, deep sea fishing, theater and classical music. Aside from his Pacific Symphony activities, Hans has been past member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and Electronics Engineer (IEEE). He currently is a member of Vistage in Orange County, past board member of two public electronics companies and a member of Tec Coast Angels since 2008. Hans holds 2 patents. He also serves as a Board member of Chapman University's Leatherby School of Business.


Valerie grew up in Studio City, California. Her parents were artists who met while working on Fantasia at Disney Studios, and as classical music was always playing on the radio in her home, she fell in love with the sound of the violin and began playing when she was 7. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Social Sciences, travelled for a year in Europe, and then completed a masters and teaching degree at UC Berkeley, specializing in disadvantaged children. She studied violin with the Principal of the San Francisco Symphony and enjoyed playing in many free-lance ensembles. She taught a year of 9th grade history at Seaside California, then moved to Laguna Beach where she taught French and remedial English 5 years at Thurston Intermediate School under an innovative daily-demand flexible scheduling program. She met Hans soon after he moved to Orange County and among their first dates was a performance at South Coast Repertory - they have been subscribers ever since.   They were married in 1971 and three children were born soon after. There were busy years with cub scouts, Indian Maidens (President), National Charity League (Philanthropy Chairman).



A workshop for artists on "How to Market Your Art with Little or No Budget" will be offered on Saturday, September 20, 9am-12 noon at the Dana Point Women's Club Community House, 24642 San Juan Street. $10 Admission includes a free copy of the book Tom Patty's Marketing Without Money. More details here.



 Arts Orange County is supported in part through funds from
      California Arts Council Logo 

New Curator Appointed at City of  Irvine Fine Art Center

Yevgenia Mikhailik has been appointed by the City of Irvine to serve as its new Art Exhibitions and Education Specialist for the city's Irvine Fine Art Center.   Previously, she spent more than 8 years as a curatorial associate at California State University, Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana.  She is an artist and illustrator with MFA and BFA degrees in illustration from California State University, Long Beach.  She is originally from Tomsk, Russia.

Work by Richard Turner Selected for City of Santa Ana Public Art Site

Richard Turner, a noted public artist,  has been commissioned to create a work for the City of Santa Ana's designated public art site at the terminus of the city's Flower Street bicycle trail where it meets Sunflower Avenue.   The site is on former agricultural fields once belonging to the Sakioka family, and the City sought art that would commemorate the Japanese-American agricultural heritage of Santa Ana.  Arts Orange County is managing the project for the City. The selection panel included Grace Kook-Anderson, Curator, Laguna Art Museum; Joseph S. Lewis III, Dean, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, UC Irvine; Mike McGee, Professor of Art & Director, Begovich Gallery, Cal State Fullerton.

The work will consist of a 7' bronze sculpture of a bunch of celery treated with a dark patina with green overtones and an antique millstone atop a concrete plinth paved with hand-picked stones. Celery was one of the biggest mainstays of the Orange County Japanese-American farmers. The piece is minimal in style and straightforward in its symbolism.   More about the artist here.

OC Arts Organizations:

Are your listings up-to-date on SparkOC?

SparkOC July 2011 

Got your arts plate?

Arts Orange County is the leader in building appreciation of, participation in and support for the arts and arts education throughout Orange County. 
It is a powerhouse in advancing Orange County's arts ecology, a trailblazer in advocating workforce development through arts education, a leader in building future audiences and a trendsetter in the world of nonprofit arts councils.
Arts Orange County, 3730 South Susan Street, Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92704