“I was painting on the walls when I was 4 years old,” says artist Darlene Olivia McElroy, winner of this year’s Illustrator’s Cup. “I’ve never had another career.” And what a career. Spanning back to time spent doing commercial illustration for the likes of Coca-Cola, McElroy says that while she still focuses on illustration, painting and using computers as an extra tool have catapulted her work to a whole new level. “It was honoring Black History Month,” she says of her winning piece, “and I love complementary color. It feels dramatic, the blue hues; the goldy, orangey, reddy stuff.” Elsewhere in this issue, find a horrifying glimpse into January 6, a subtly dense cityscape from an aspiring children’s book illustrator and some gloriously strange and beautiful honorable mentions. You really brought it, Santa Fe.

1st Place: Power in the Feminine

Darlene Olivia McElroy

McElroy is an illustrator, artist, author and educator. Descended from an old New Mexico family of artists and storytellers, she was born and raised in Southern California. She has worked both in the states and in Europe as a painter and illustrator and her work is in galleries internationally.

2nd Place: Selfie

Charles Rosenthal

Rosenthal has been painting for more than 40 years. His work contains recurring themes, relating to issues that most concern him, most often regarding habitat loss, wildlife and climate change. “Since 2016,” he writes, “I have found it necessary to also address the continual decline of American culture, and our societal descent into an even deeper form of communal madness.”

3rd Place: Jamal’s Neighborhood

Maya E Shakur

Shakur is an aspiring children’s book illustrator based in Santa Fe. Under the name of Studio Maï, her desire is to create art that encourages sustainability and environmentalism to remind children of the natural world that surrounds and supports us. As a woman of color, it is also her goal to create new and inclusive norms regarding gender and race through creative communication.

Honorable Mention: Sicily 2017

Kim Crowley

Crowley holds a bachelor of fine arts from University of Michigan and a master of fine arts from Carnegie Melon University and has been a Santa Fean since 1991.

Honorable Mention: Coyote

Brooke Reiche

Reiche is an illustrator and designer, often inspired by the desert flora and fauna of New Mexico.

Honorable Mention: Portal

Bette Yozell

Yozell grew up on the north shore of Boston. She attended the Tyler School of Art in Rome, Italy, the Boston Museum School and has a BS in art education from Tufts University. In 1976, she moved to Copenhagen, Denmark where she established a similar studio and taught in the Danish Adult Education system. She exhibited extensively in Europe during her seven years there. Her move back to the US was to Santa Fe. She taught first at the College of Santa Fe and then at Santa Fe Prep School, where she was chair of the Art Department and taught for 27 years. Retired from teaching in 2011, Yozell is now full time in her studio.

Honorable Mention: sometimes art is not pretty, just wild

William Rotsaert

Rotsaert lives in Santa Fe and is an artist and illustrator.

Honorable Mention: Georgia Was Here

John Tollett

Tollett’s background includes working as an art director, designer and illustrator for advertising agencies and as a freelancer. He now concentrates on painting and drawing and is a leader of the Tuesday Night Drawing Group established in 1969 by artist Eli Levin.

Honorable Mention: UNTITLED

Qin Ocullian

Ocullian spent most of his life in Santa Fe and gains inspiration from the early Renaissance masters as well as Dali, Escher, Kahlo, Giger, Frazetta and Boris. He’s had his hands in art forms including music, sculpting and photogrpahy.