Alison Keeler Carrillo

The legacy of artist and teacher Eduardo Carrillo continues to inspire and support students thanks to the generosity of his widow, Alison Keeler Carrillo, and other donors who have established a scholarship in his memory. “The scholarship is a way for Ed’s vision and values to be carried forward,” said Alison. “He did all kinds of things that really inspired his students to take their art seriously. He not only was a great painter, he was a great teacher.”

February 09, 2011

Carillo.jpg
The legacy of artist and teacher Eduardo Carrillo continues to inspire and support students thanks to the generosity of his widow, Alison Keeler Carrillo, and other donors who have established a scholarship in his memory.

The Eduardo Carrillo Memorial Scholarship Fund was created with a lead gift from Alison’s mother, Florence Mithoefer. “I’m very grateful to my mother for doing that,” said Alison. “Although she wasn’t particularly wealthy, she was as generous as she could be.” Contributions from Alison, the Robert T. Keeler Foundation, and other donors have brought the endowment to nearly $250,000. The need-based scholarship provides funds to UC Santa Cruz art majors who have achieved high academic merit in painting, drawing, or sculpture. Scholarship recipients can use the funds as needed. Alison has continued to give to the fund.  “I hope that the scholarship fund will continue to increase,” said Alison, “so that it can be significantly helpful to a larger number of people."

A professor of arts and founding member of Oakes College, the seventh college established at UC Santa Cruz, Eduardo Carrillo was a passionate and prolific artist deeply committed to education. In addition to teaching painting, drawing, murals, pre-Columbian art history, and other art subjects at UC Santa Cruz, he did academic outreach, speaking at high schools. “He talked to students about what was possible for them, that they could get into the university if they applied. He reached out to them,” said Alison. Eduardo’s death at age 60 in 1997 was a great loss that extended from his family to many communities, including the campus, Santa Cruz, arts, and Mexico.

Eduardo’s commitment to art and teaching reached across his life and were part of the summer trips he and Alison took to San Ignacio, Baja, Mexico, his mother’s hometown. Each year the town’s children would greet his arrival will calls of “Don Eduardo, Don Eduardo” and he in turn would present them with small gifts including musical instruments and art supplies. The children would sit—sometimes joined by adults—and quietly watch him paint for hours, his intense concentration undisturbed. Eduardo encouraged them to create their own art, and San Ignacio community members of all ages brought him their paintings and drawings to share or as gifts.

“The way he addressed a canvas was rigorously,” said Alison, “he just grappled with that canvas.” Observing Eduardo’s artistic process, and especially the outpouring of his inner energy into his art, inspired Alison to experience “a revival” in her own creative pursuits in handwork and music. “I see the arts as a really important vehicle for putting one’s energy towards a sense of fulfillment,” said Alison. Her firsthand experience of the positive power of creative fulfillment has led her to devote her philanthropy to the arts.

In addition to helping art students in their education, Alison is working to ensure that Eduardo’s art will be seen by future generations. She has established the Museo Eduardo Carrillo, a non-profit organization that promotes the legacy of Eduardo’s art, and is in negotiations to establish his presence in a major museum. “This will bring Ed’s art into the context of other painters,” said Alison, who also has long-term plans for a national tour of Eduardo’s work.