Sculptor Mark di Suvero receives the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama at the White House on March 2. (Photo by Ruth David, courtesy of NEA.)

For art lovers with a long memory of Sonoma County’s brightest stars, one name leaps out from the list of 2010 National Medal of Arts recipients announced this week in Washington, D.C.

Born in Shanghai, China, and now based in New York, sculptor Mark di Suvero lived near Petaluma  from 1975 to 1988. He was among the circle of Sonoma Mountain area sculptors that also includes David Best and Robert Ellison.

Just to demonstrate the caliber of artist that wins this honor, the let’s list other nine recipients: pianist and educator Van Cliburn, musician and producer Quincy Jones, author Harper Lee, jazz musician Sonny Rollins, actress Meryl Streep, singer and songwriter James Taylor, poet Donald Hall and theatrical critic, playwright and producer Robert Brustein and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass.

Managed by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government.