Artist Award Roundup: National Portrait Gallery Picks Outwin Boochever Winner, Forge Project Names 2022 Fellows, and More

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has named the winner of its sixth Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which is held every three years. Brooklyn-based artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor won for her 2020 painting Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning, which depicts Brooklyn-based hair stylist Anthony Payne giving a woman a haircut under the bridge overpass in front of an ornate mirror. Taylor came across Payne as he was giving outdoor donation-based haircuts during the summer of 2020 at the height of the pandemic and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd.

In a statement, NPG director Kim Sajet said, “Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s winning portrait is an especially powerful example of how people turned everyday tasks into shared moments of resilience and hope that made us stronger as a community.”

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Taylor’s work is now on view, along with the entries by the other 41 finalists, at the National Portrait Gallery as part “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today,” which runs through February 26, 2023. As part of her prize, Taylor will receive $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living person for the museum.

A second-place prize for the competition went to Tom Jones and a third-place one went to Pao Houa Her, who is currently included in the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to vote online for the People’s Choice Award from the 42 finalists, which will be announced in October. Past first-prize winners of the Outwin Boochever prize include Amy Sherald (2016) and Hugo Crosthwaite (2019).

The Forge Project, which is sited on unceded homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok in Upstate New York, has announced the six Indigenous recipients of its 2022 fellowships. They are Catherine Blackburn (Dene), an artist and jeweler; Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache), an experimental musician and vocalist; Rainer Posselt (Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohicans), a public and mental health worker; Sara Siestreem (Hanis Coos of The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians), a multidisciplinary artist; Tania Willard (Secwepemc Nation), a multidisciplinary artist and curator; and Ilgavak, Peter Williams (Yup’ik), a culture bearer, artist, designer, and filmmaker.

Each fellow will receive $25,000 and participate in a three-week residency at Forge. In a statement, Forge Project executive director Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation), said, “This year’s Fellows represent the breadth and complexity of contemporary Native artistic practices, activism, and culture bearing.”

The New York–based American Academy of Arts and Letters has named the 15 artists who have won its 2022 awards. The Arts and Letters Awards in Art, which come with $10,000 per artist, went to Candida Alvarez, Garrett Bradley, Keltie Ferris, Judy Fox, and Rachel Harrison. The $10,000 Jacob Lawrence Award in Art was given to Suzanne Jackson, and the $10,000 Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Award in Art to Ellen Berkenblit, while the $10,000 Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Art for “a young painter of distinction” went to Kerstin Brätsch.

Seven artists received the American Academy’s Art Purchase Prizes, which places the work of a living American artist in a U.S. museum. They are Andrea Belag, Carl D’Alvia, Hadi Fallahpisheh, Pam Lins, Matt Saunders, Shinique Smith, and Martine Syms. The jury for this year’s awards was Catherine Murphy (chair), Mel Chin, Judy Pfaff, Joel Shapiro, Amy Sillman, and Peter Saul.

Composite image of four portraits in a cross formation.

The 2022 Rainin Fellows, counter-clockwise, from left: Ryan Nicole Austin, Maria Victoria Ponce, Brett Cook, NAKA Dance Theater.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation has named the recipients of its 2022 Rainin Fellowships, a series of $100,000 grants for Bay Area artists in four disciplines: dance, film, public space, and theater. The winners are Brett Cook (in the Public Space category), an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work blurs the divide between art-making, daily life, and healing; Maria Victoria Ponce (Film), a writer and director who focuses on the complexities of the Latinx experience in the Bay Area; NAKA Dance Theater (Dance), a socially engaged dance theater collective founded by Debby Kajiyama and José Ome Navarrete Mazatl in 2001 that creates work focused on social justice issues; and Ryan Nicole Austin (Theater), a Grammy-nominated polymath who works at the intersection of art and activism.

In a statement, Ted Russell, the foundation’s arts strategy and ventures director, said, “As anchor artists, these fellows and their creative practices speak to both the rich history and bright future of the Bay Area arts ecosystem. It is an honor to celebrate these talented artists, their significant contributions to our community, and the enrichment of the ecosystem in the process.”

The New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts have partnered to create a new $261,000 grant program for artists with disabilities, who are based in New York State but outside of New York City’s five boroughs. The program will disburse $1,000 cash grants for art-related expenses to each of the selected artists who have faced financial hardship due to the pandemic. It is open to artists working in visual, media, music, performing, literary, and multidisciplinary arts. The application cycle opens on May 17 and closes on June 28.

“We are grateful to NYSCA for supporting a program that recognizes the sustained impact of COVID-19 on creative communities, particularly those with disabilities,” NYFA executive director Michael Royce said in a statement. “We hope that this grant helps to relieve some of the financial burdens that may be keeping artists from fully returning to their work, and that it offers encouragement for their practice.”

A Colombian American man sits in front of his painting of a streetscape.

Juan Jose Cielo.

The Miami-based organization YoungArts has given its Jorge M. Pérez Award for alumni of its prizes for schoolers to New York–based artist Juan Jose Cielo. A YoungArts winner for visual arts in 2015, Cielo works across painting, photography, and film. He will receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000.

The jury selected Cielo based on a portfolio that “demonstrates depth of thought and insight by cleverly depicting simulations in painting, photography and short films where futuristic technology is interwoven with the sublime. Through his work, he grapples with the reality of the Latinx experience in the US, explores what it means to have a dual-heritage and creates space where Latin American myth and folklore are part of his vision of a futuristic world,” according to a release.

The nonprofit exhibition space Big Medium in Austin has awarded Tammie Rubin the Fifth Annual Tito’s Prize, which is underwritten by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The prize comes with $15,000 and a solo show at Big Medium next year. According to a release, Rubin’s “sculptural practice considers the intrinsic power of objects as signifiers, wishful contraptions, and mythic relics while investigating the tension between the readymade and the handcrafted.”

In non-artist award news, the Association of Art Museum Curators named its 2022 Awards for Excellence. Among the winners are Valerie Cassel Oliver at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse” in the category of exhibition by an institution with an operating budget over $30 million; Bridget R. Cooks and Sarah Watson at the University of California, Irvine for “The Black Index” in online program; and Sean Anderson and Mabel O. Wilson for Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America in the category for exhibition publication by an organization with an operating budget over $30 million. (The full list of winners can be accessed on the organization’s website.)


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