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The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) announces that applications for the 16th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize are now open. The prestigious competition awards a $25,000 fellowship to assist in furthering the career of a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Greater Baltimore region. Approximately six finalists will be selected for final review for the prize. This year, the finalists’ work is scheduled to be exhibited at the Walters Art Museum. The deadline for submissions is Monday, January 11, 2021.
The finalists’ exhibition is scheduled to be on view Thursday, May 27 through Sunday, July 18, 2021, at the Walters Art Museum, located at 600 N. Charles St. Admission to the exhibition is free. In the case of continuing COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibition will occur on the online platform Kunstmatrix, with curatorial support from the Walters Arts Museum.
Additionally, works by the remaining semifinalists will be selected by BOPA curator Lou Joseph for a separate exhibition during the summer of 2021. The 2021 jurors are Naz Cuguoğlu, Michelle Grabner, and Meleko Mokgosi.
Past distinguished recipients of the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize are Laure Drogoul (Baltimore, MD) in 2006; Tony Shore (Baltimore, MD) in 2007; Geoff Grace (Baltimore, MD) in 2008; Baltimore Development Cooperative (Baltimore, MD) in 2009; Ryan Hackett (Kennsington, MD) in 2010; Matthew Porterfield (Baltimore, MD) in 2011; Renee Stout (Washington, DC) in 2012; Gabriela Bulisova (Washington, DC ) in 2013; Neil Feather (Baltimore, MD) in 2014; Wickerham & Lomax (Baltimore, MD) in 2015; FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (Baltimore, MD) in 2016; Cindy Cheng (Baltimore, MD) in 2017; Erick Antonio Benitez (Baltimore, MD) in 2018; Akea Brionne Brown (Baltimore, MD) in 2019; and LaToya M. Hobbs (Baltimore, MD) in 2020.
In 2020, in response to COVID-19 restrictions, the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize competition occurred fully online with a virtual exhibition and an online award ceremony, during which LaToya M. Hobbs was announced as the winner. The ceremony is available to watch on BOPA’s YouTube.
Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Estimated Timeline
Application Deadline: Monday, January 11, 2021
Announcement of Semifinalists: Mid-February 2021
Announcement of Finalists: Mid-March 2021
Finalist Studio Visits with Exhibition Curators: Late March 2021
Finalist Exhibition Press Preview: Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10 AM
Opening Reception for Finalist Exhibition: Thursday, May 27, 2021, 6 PM
Finalist Exhibition: Thursday, May 27 – Sunday, July 18, 2021
Finalist Interview: Saturday, July 10, 2021
Award Announcement: Saturday, July 10, 2021 at 7pm; Galleries open at 6pm
2021 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Jurors
Naz Cuguoğlu is a curator and art writer, based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Istanbul. She is the co-founder of “Collective Çukurcuma,” experimenting with collaborative thinking processes through its reading group meetings and international collaborative exhibitions. She held fellowship positions at the KADIST and the Wattis Institute; researcher positions at de Young Museum and SFMOMA Public Knowledge; and worked as a project and exhibitions manager at Zilberman Gallery, Maumau Art Residency, and Mixer. Since 2017, she has been working as an artist advisor for the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She received her BA in Psychology and MA in Social Psychology from Koç University and another MA from California College of the Arts’ Curatorial Practice program. She has curated exhibitions internationally, at institutions such as The Wattis Institute (San Francisco), 15th Istanbul Biennial Public Program, Framer Framed (Amsterdam), Kunstraum Leipzig, Red Bull Art Around Istanbul, among many others.
Michelle Grabner (born 1962 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin) is an artist, writer, and curator based in Wisconsin. She is the Crown Family Professor of Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she has taught since 1996. She has curated several important exhibitions, including the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art along with Anthony Elms and Stuart Comer, and FRONT International, a triennial exhibition in Cleveland, Ohio in 2018. In 2014, Grabner was named one of the 100 most powerful women in art, and in 2019, she was named a 2019 National Academy of Design's Academician, a lifetime honor.
Meleko Mokgosi (born in Francistown, Botswana; lives and works in New York, NY) is an artist, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Art, and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program. He received his BA from Williams College in 2007 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program from 2007-2008. Mokgosi received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California Los Angeles in 2011. He participated in the Rauschenberg Residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva, FL in 2015 and the Artist in Residence Program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY in 2012. By working across history painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, Mokgosi creates large-scale project-based installations that interrogate narrative tropes and the fundamental models for the inscription and transmission of history. In 2018 he co-founded the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program in New York City.
Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize
The Artscape prize is named in honor of Janet and Walter Sondheim who have been instrumental in creating the Baltimore City that exists today. Walter Sondheim, Jr. had been one of Baltimore’s most important civic leaders for over 50 years. His accomplishments included oversight of the desegregation of the Baltimore City Public Schools in 1954 when he was president of the Board of School Commissioners of Baltimore City. Later, he has deeply involved in the development of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor. He continued to be active in civic and educational activities in the city and state and served as the senior advisor to the Greater Baltimore Committee until his death in February 2007.
Janet Sondheim danced with the pioneering Denishawn Dancers, a legendary dance troupe founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Later, she turned to teach where she spent 15 years at the Children’s Guild working with severely emotionally disturbed children. After retirement, she was a volunteer tutor at Highlandtown Elementary School. She married Walter in 1934, and they were together until her death in 1992.
The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is proud to announce that LaToya M. Hobbs is the winner of the 2020 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at a virtual award ceremony on Saturday, July 25, streamed on BOPA’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
“I am so excited, so happy and just filled with so much gratitude,” said Hobbs during the award ceremony. “It is an honor to continue in the tradition of the Sondheim Award and an absolute pleasure to share my work with you.”
LaToya M. Hobbs (Baltimore, MD) is an artist, wife, and mother of two currently living and working in Baltimore, MD. She received her BA in Painting from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and MFA in Printmaking from Purdue University. Hobbs’ work deals with figurative imagery that addresses the ideas of beauty, cultural identity, and womanhood as they relate to women of the African Diaspora. She creates a fluid and symbiotic relationship between her printmaking and painting practice producing works that are marked by texture, color and bold patterns. Her exhibition record includes several national and international exhibits. Hobbs’ work has also been featured in Transition: An International Review, a publication of the W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Other accomplishments include a 2019 Individual Artist Award in the Works on Paper category from the Maryland State Arts Council, a 2019 Artist Travel Grant awarded by the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore and she is the recipient of a 2020 Artist in Residence award at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, LA. Additionally, Hobbs devotes her time to teaching and inspiring young artists as a Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Hobbs’ winning Sondheim Artscape Prize gallery is available for viewing here.
The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is proud to announce that Akea Brionne Brown is the winner of the 2019 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at The Walters Art Museum on Saturday, July 13, 2019. The six other finalists received a $2,500 honorarium established by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA.
Akea Brionne Brown (Baltimore, MD) is an emerging photographer that investigates the implications of historical racial and social structures in relation to the development of contemporary black life and identity within America. With a particular focus on the ways in which history influences the contemporary cultural milieu of the American black middle class, Brown explores today's African-American community as it relates to historical forms of oppression, discrimination and segregation in American history. She received a Visual Task Force scholarship from the National Association of Black Journalists. Her work is featured in the Smithsonian’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, and was recently acquired by Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. She was the 2018 winner of Duke University’s Archive of Documentary Arts Collection’s Documentarian of Color award. Her series, Black Picket Fences, was acquired for their permanent collection at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. She was also chosen to attend the 7th annual New York Portfolio Review in 2018.
The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is proud to announce that Erick Antonio Benitez is the winner of the 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at The Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday, July 14, 2018. The five other finalists—Nakeya Brown, Sutton Demlong, Nate Larson, Eunice Park, and Stephen Towns—received a $2,500 honorarium established by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists were on view at the BMA through Sunday, August 5, 2018.
Esta Tierra Es Tu Tierra (This Land Is Your Land) is an immersive installation focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border and its effects on human lives. In winter 2015 and summer 2016, Erick Antonio Benitez (American, b. 1988) traveled the entirety of the border that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, visiting numerous sites including migrant shelters (in both the U.S. and Mexico), a Tent City jail recently closed for its horrific human rights violations, and various border landscapes. His poetic and sonic video documentary captures onsite interviews with border agents, migrants, and members of the volunteer Minuteman Project, as well as interactions at Friendship Park, where residents of the U.S. and Mexico are permitted to meet face-to-face across a 100-foot, semitransparent span of fencing. Benitez also made audio recordings and photographs and collected sand, dirt, rocks, seashells, yucca flowers, and discarded personal belongings. He preserves and enshrines these objects within the installation as ritual offerings to those who have lost their lives on their journey to the United States.
Erick Antonio Benitez (Baltimore, MD) is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, organizer and curator. Benitez's work primarily consists of installation, video, performance, sound, and painting to explore concepts of identity, culture, mysticism, and the natural world. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting with a video concentration from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2014. His work has been exhibited in several gallery exhibitions and publicly in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Brooklyn, NY; Denver, CO; Barcelona, Spain and Timisoara, Romania. His work has also been featured in the Washington Post, Baltimore City Paper, BmoreArt, What Weekly, BmoreArt, a Journal of Art + Ideas, Let’s Talk Live (WJLA), and Hyrsteria Zine Vol. 2. Benitez is a recent recipient of The Contemporary: Grit Fund 2 and the Ruby Artist Project Grant and has been nominated as a finalist for the 2018 Baker Artist Award.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) are proud to announce that Cindy Cheng is the winner of the 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at the Walters Award Museum on Saturday, July 15, 2017. The six remaining finalists—Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata, and Amy Yee—each received a $2,500 honorarium supported by M&T Bank Charitable Foundation in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists were on view at the Walters through Sunday, August 13, 2017.
Cindy Cheng (Baltimore, MD) creates complex constructions and installations that investigate the relationship between drawings and objects and are incubators for history, memory and reflections on the physical and abstract self. Her work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at St. Charles Projects (Baltimore, MD, 2016), ‘sindikit (in collaboration with Cheeny Celebrado-Royer) (Baltimore, MD, 2016), Present Junction (Toronto, Canada, 2015), Thomas H. and Mary K. Williams Gallery at Mount Saint Mary’s University (Emmitsburg, MD, 2016), Flashpoint (Washington, DC, 2014), E-merge Art Fair (Washington, DC, 2013) and has an upcoming solo show at Ditch Projects (Portland, OR, 2017). Cheng received her BA from Mount Holyoke College. Cheng received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2008 and then earned her Masters of Fine Art from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2011. She is currently teaching at MICA in the Drawing Department, and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and at the Anderson Ranch Artist Residency (Snowmass Village, CO). In 2016, Cheng and was a finalist for the Trawick Prize and in 2013 a semifinalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) are proud to announce that FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is the winner of the 2016 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at this evening’s awards ceremony at The Baltimore Museum of Art. The six other finalists—Theo Anthony, Stephanie Barber, Darcie Book, Larry Cook, Eric Kruszewski, Christos Palios—received a $2,500 honorarium established this year by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the BMA through Sunday, July 31, 2016.
FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture describes itself as a “creative activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent.” The organization was founded in 2010 by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, community organizers and artists living in Baltimore. The group deploys its messages against sexual violence through public art projects and events, as well as through the Internet and media campaigns.
On view is a small portion of FORCE’s The Monument Quilt, a growing compilation of the stories of survivors of sexual violence presented on 8-foot by 8-foot squares of red fabric. In 2017, FORCE seeks to bring 6,000 of these quilt squares (produced in workshops across the country) to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where they will spell out the equally cautionary and consoling phrase “Not Alone.” Accompanying the quilt squares at the BMA is video footage documenting earlier presentations of the quilt. FORCE will also conduct a public awareness program as part of its Sondheim exhibition contribution.
The Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2016 Finalists exhibition is held in conjunction with Artscape and is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. It is one of the summer’s most highly anticipated exhibitions. It is designed to assist visual artists in the Greater Baltimore region in furthering their careers by allowing them to pursue tracks in their work that may not otherwise be possible. The artists were selected by an independent panel of jurors, who reviewed the exhibition and interviewed each artist to decide the winner. This year’s jurors are: Tim Griffin, Executive Director and Chief Curator at The Kitchen; Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum; and Mia Locks, Co-Curator of The Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2017 Whitney Biennial.
For more information on the Sondheim Artscape Prize, visit artscape.org.