Art instructor receives prestigious Kenneth Wellner Memorial Award

Allen Garns‘ watercolor portrait "Aware"Allen Garns‘ watercolor portrait "Aware" MESA, Arizona -- Oct. 8, 2019 -- The Pastel Society of America (PSA) presented Mesa Community College art instructor Allen Garns with the prestigious Kenneth Wellner Memorial Award at the 2019 PSA exhibit at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, New York City.

Garns’ portrait, "Aware," was chosen from 176 artists' exhibited works, which were selected from over 1,600 worldwide applicants.

“This was a small and rather quiet piece. Each year, many of the paintings in this show are often large and much more intense color (a common quality in pastel painting). So I was especially surprised and honored to be chosen for this award,” said Garns.

"The MCC Art Department congratulates Allen on his recent successes as an artist and his continued success as a valued MCC art instructor," said Gingher Leyendecker, chair of the MCC Art Department. "We are proud that he has been recognized for his talents and look forward to celebrating more successes in the future."

John Giles, mayor of the City of Mesa, Arizona and a strong supporter of the arts, became aware of Allen's work and invited him to display nine new paintings in the mayor's office in Mesa City Hall for the next few months. Images of the works hanging in City Hall include iconic Mesa landscapes and can be viewed on Instagram.

Garns graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He has taught drawing at MCC for a number of years and is well-liked among students.

Additional information about the MCC Art Department is available online at

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, MCC,, 480-461-7892

The Pastel Society of America (PSA) was founded in 1972 by Flora B. Giffuni. The society is the oldest pastel society in America and is largely responsible for the current renaissance of pastels in American art. The society’s annual exhibitions at The National Arts Club in New York are the premier event for pastel artists in this country and abroad. PSA encourages artistic advancement through prestigious awards distributed during its annual exhibitions. Pastelists showing technical acumen and creative use of pastel techniques are awarded prizes for their achievements. Members winning three cumulative awards are named PSA Master Pastelists. Each year one noted artist is elected into PSA’s Hall of Fame. Learn more at

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College and is known for service learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to education. The college serves as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs online, at its two campuses, the Mesa Downtown Center and additional locations. Through the implementation of Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services, MCC is transforming ways it champions student success; college completion, university transfer and career attainment for all students. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution. The diverse student body includes more than 400 international students representing over 60 countries. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training to empower MCC students to compete locally and globally. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, MCC is one of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Learn more at

Mesa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, October 8, 2019