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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. The five other finalists—Nakeya Brown, Sutton Demlong, Nate Larson, Eunice Park, and Stephen Towns—will receive a $2,500 honorarium established by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the BMA through Sunday, August 5.
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.
The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize 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, 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: Lauren Cornell, Director of the Graduate Program and Chief Curator at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Hessel Museum of Art; Margot Norton, Curator at the New Museum, New York; and Kameelah Janan Rasheed, a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and former public high school teacher.
The Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalists 2018 exhibition is organized by BMA Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Cecilia Wichmann along with BOPA Public Art Specialist Kim Domanski. This exhibition is generously sponsored by Patricia and Mark Joseph/The Shelter Foundation.
The prize is held in conjunction with the 37th annual Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival taking place Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 22, 2018 along Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street. Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries of the Maryland Institute College of Art on Friday, July 20 through Sunday, August 5, 2018. An opening reception for the semifinalist exhibition takes place Thursday, July 19, 2018 from 6pm to 9pm at MICA, located at 1301 W. Mount Royal Avenue.
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 was 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 teaching 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.
America's largest free arts festival, attracting more than 350,000 attendees, offers concerts on multiple outdoor stages, art exhibitions, an artists’ market, a full schedule of dance, theater and opera, jazz, classical, folk and experimental music, children’s activities, exhibitors, and an extensive variety of local food and beverage vendors on Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street.
The 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, Brightside Foundation, Brown Advisory Charitable Foundation, Caplan Family Foundation, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Greater Baltimore Committee, Hecht-Levi Foundation, M&T Bank, Legg Mason, Amy & Chuck Newhall, Rollins-Luetkemeyer Foundation, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, Rosemore, Inc., Rouse Company Foundation, M. Sigmund & Barbara Shapiro Philanthropic Fund, John Sondheim and William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.
With special thanks to those making contributions to the Sondheim Prize in honor of former BOPA CEO Bill Gilmore: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Dr. Frank Marino Foundation, Days Inn Inner Harbor, Suzanne Cohen, Lois and Irving Blum Foundation, Nancy Hackerman, E. Scott Johnson, Kathleen Basham, James Adams, Barbara Bozzuto, Elizabeth Bruen, Elizabeth Freeman, Rosalind Healy, Hopkinson Family Fund, Alyce Myatt, Paula Rome, Kathy Sher, Andrea Vernot & Brent Burkhardt, Laura Burrows, Alexander Baer, Linda Blume, H. Chace Davis, Stanford Gann, Mark Klotzbach, Sarah McCafferty & Andrew Lapayowker, Leslie Helen Shepard, and Janet Marie Smith.
Special thanks to M&T Bank for their annual support of the program, which includes the finalists' honorarium.
For more information on the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, call 410-752-8632.
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.
Nakeya Brown (Laurel, MD), a 2017 Snider Prize award winner, has generated a vast body of work that uses photography to explore the complexities of race, beauty, politics, and gender. She received her Bachelor of Art degree from Rutgers University and her Master of Fine Arts from The George Washington University. Her work has been featured nationally in recent solo exhibitions at the Catherine Eldman Gallery (Chicago, IL, 2017); the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids, MI, 2017); the Hamiltonian Gallery (Washington, DC, 2017); The McKenna Museum of African American Art (New Orleans, LA, 2012) and in group exhibitions at the Eubie Blake Culture Center (Baltimore, MD, 2018); the Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center (North Brentwood, MD, 2017); and the Woman Made Gallery (Chicago, IL 2016 & 2013), among several others . She has presented her work internationally at the Museum der bildenden Künste (Leipzig, Germany, 2018) and NOW Gallery (London, U.K., 2017). Brown’s work has been featured in New York magazine, Dazed & Confused, The Fader, TIME, and Vice. Her work has been included in photography books Babe and Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze. She lives and works in Maryland with her 5-year-old daughter, Mia.
Sutton Demlong (Baltimore, MD) is a sculptor who utilizes traditional woodworking techniques to explore the possibilities of imbuing personality and presence in abstract sculpture. Demlong received his Master of Fine Art degree from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016. In 2013 he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University with a dual concentration in Art Education and Sculpture. His work was featured in exhibitions at Little Berlin (Philadelphia, PA, 2018); Platform Gallery (Baltimore, MD, 2017); Current Space (Baltimore, MD, 2017); New City Studio (Phoenix, AZ, 2017); CONNERSMITH. (Washington, DC, 2016) and Franconia Sculpture Park (Shafer, MN, 2014). In 2017, Demlong was a Trawick Prize semifinalist and in 2015 he was the recipient of the Markell Brooks Scholarship to attend Anderson Ranch Arts Center artist residency.
Nate Larson (Baltimore, MD) is a contemporary artist and a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. His projects have been widely shown across the U.S. and internationally, including an upcoming commissioned solo exhibition for the George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY, opening January 2019) and past solo exhibitions at Filter Space Chicago (Chicago, IL, 2016); the Orlando Museum of Art (Orlando, FL, 2013); Blue Sky Center for Photographic Arts (Portland, OR, 2014, 2012) and the Contemporary Arts Center, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV, 2011). His work is included in the touring exhibition "State of the Art," originating at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR, 2014) and touring to the Telfair Museums (Savannah, GA, 2016); Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN, 2016); Dixon Gallery & Gardens (Memphis, TN, 2017); Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville, TN, 2017) and The Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC, 2017). Other recent group exhibitions include the Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO, 2018); the Zuckerman Museum of Art (Kennesaw, GA, 2017); Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR, 2016); Center for Photography at Woodstock (Woodstock, NY, 2016) and Silver Eye Center for Photography (2015), among others. He was recently an artist-in-residence at Paul Artspace in Missouri (2017), CEC Artslink in Russia (2016), and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Florida (2013). His artwork is included in the collections of the High Museum Atlanta, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. His first monograph, Geolocation, was published by Flash Powder Projects in 2016. Larson was the recipient of the 2017 Municipal Art Society of Baltimore City Artist Travel Prize, and was a Sondheim Finalist in 2010 and 2013.
Eunice Park (Parkville, MD) studied Fine Arts at Montgomery College (Rockville, MD) and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, where she was granted a full scholarship for Independent Studio Painting. Eunice took a hiatus from painting for a number of years and returned to the Baltimore area to raise her three children as a single mom, working as a seamstress during most of that time to support her family. A few years ago, Eunice's passion for painting was rekindled when her daughter bought her art supplies for a Mother's Day gift. She has been creating new works ever since. Much of her inspiration comes from the great teachers she has had in her life, or from music. She draws strength from her children and her faith and creates images from memories, which when infused with emotion, become fantasies paralleled with reality.
Stephen Towns (Baltimore, MD) is a painter and fiber artist whose work explores how American history influences contemporary society. Towns received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in painting from the University of South Carolina. His work has been exhibited locally and nationally, including solo exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD, 2018); Goucher College (Baltimore, MD, 2017); Galerie Myrtis (Baltimore, MD, 2017); Gallery CA (Baltimore, MD, 2014); City Gallery at the Dock Street Theatre (Charleston, SC, 2005), as well as group exhibitions at Arlington Art Center (Arlington, VA, 2017); The Art Barn (Gaithersburg, MD, 2018); Montpelier Arts Center (Laurel, MD, 2016) and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum (Baltimore, MD, 2014). His work has also been featured in publications such as the New York Times, the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Style, Northern Virginia magazine, BmoreArt magazine, Urbanite magazine and Baltimore City Paper. Towns was honored as the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Municipal Art Society of Baltimore City Artist Travel Prize and received the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Rubys Artist Grant in 2015. In 2018, he was awarded a Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award in craft.
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 are 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—will receive 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.
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.