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Akea Brionne Brown is the winner of the 14th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize which 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.
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 P icket 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.
Finalists Negar Ahkami, Cheeny Celebrado-Royer, Schroeder Cherry, Phylicia Ghee, Jackie Milad and Stephanie Williams received the M&T Bank Finalist Award of $2,500. The 2019 jurors are Laylah Ali, Regine Basha and William Powhida.
Sondheim Artscape Prize Recipients
Past distinguished recipients of the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize are:
2006 - Laure Drogoul (Baltimore, MD)
2007 - Tony Shore (Baltimore, MD)
2008 - Geoff Grace (Baltimore, MD)
2009 - Baltimore Development Cooperative (Baltimore, MD)
2010 - Ryan Hackett (Kennsington, MD)
2011 - Matthew Porterfield (Baltimore, MD)
2012 - Renee Stout (Washington, DC)
2013 - Gabriela Bulisova (Washington, DC )
2014 - Neil Feather (Baltimore, MD)
2015 - Wickerham & Lomax (Baltimore, MD)
2016 - FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (Baltimore, MD)
2017 - Cindy Cheng (Baltimore, MD)
2018 - Erick Antonio Benitez (Baltimore, MD)
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.
For more information on the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, call 410-752-8632.
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.