Twenty-four finalists from 10 communities throughout the state have been selected for the 40th anniversary Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. 

Andre Licardi of Peoria is one of four finalists in the arts educator category. 

“It’s an honor. It’s like the Academy Awards, you may not actually get the award but getting honored is a pretty big deal. I feel like I’ve already won by just being nominated and selected as a finalist,” Licardi said. 

Licardi’s career in the arts began in 1973 when he became an art teacher in New York. After moving to Arizona in 1979, he began teaching art classes for the Peoria Unified School District. Altogether, Licardi committed 22 years to teaching various levels of art classes, from elementary school to community college courses. 

Following his teaching career, Licardi served as a principal, director of arts for the Peoria Unified School District and an arts coordinator for the city of Peoria. Licardi officially retired in June 2020.

During his time as an arts educator, Licardi said he found that art itself is much more than just the act of painting or drawing. 

“The arts have a much bigger role in people’s lives than just taking an art class in elementary school. It teaches people how to view the world with some compassion and empathy and teaches them how to be more observant,” he said. 

Regardless of the class he taught, Licardi said he enjoyed watching his students grow as artists and appreciate the class. 

“I used to make the statement to my students, ‘I guarantee you I can teach you to draw, but it’s not about teaching you to draw, it’s about teaching you how to look, to see and absorb what’s around you.’ And that’s honestly something everybody can do, everybody can enjoy, and everybody can use,” Licardi said. 

Despite not being able to have a normal awards ceremony due to the pandemic, Licardi said he is excited to watch and celebrate other artists. 

“I feel like I already won. It’s a very good feeling to know that there are members of the community that felt strong enough to nominate me and that a panel felt strong enough to forward the nomination to a finalist,” he said. 

Winners of the Governor’s Art Awards will be announced on March 26 during a hybrid event. 

The Governor’s Arts Awards have awarded 250 artists, individuals, cultural organizations, educators, businesses and philanthropists since 1981. For more information, visit azcitizensforthearts.org.



—Staff writer Lauren Serrato can be reached at lserrato@timespublications.com