Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Bethesda Painting Awards Finalists... cough, cough

Below are the finalists for the top painting prize in the region (thank you Carol Trawick!!! and congrats to the final eight!). 

My nepotista side says that the DMV's own Joan Belmar should win it - he's an amazing artist and richly deserves this recognition... my instinct would guess that brilliant Baltimore artist Cara Ober also not only richly deserves the prize, but is also due the recognition afforded by this prize by all the stuff that she does to support and expand the Baltimore art scene. I also really, really like Christine Gray.

And yet... being a pedantic Virgo (and batting about .800 in predicting both this prize and the Trawick Prize winners), I always look at the jurors, and then try to figure out who's the big mouth most persuasive voice in the jury panel and then try to guess who's gonna win based on that juror's own nepotism and ability to strong-arm the other jurors...

Everyone bring nepotism to the table when it comes to this sort of stuff... I've been in dozens and dozens of these panels and seen it surface every time. It's OK though... it is part of being human and a sincere mensch (if you admit that objectivity, when it comes to this sort of process, is only plausible for Vulcans).

These are this year's jurors: Tim Doud, Duane Keiser and Christine Neill.

Both Doud and Keiser are brilliant painters - and great choices for jurors; I don't know the third juror (Christine Neill), but because she's a professor of painting at MICA, and because three of the final eight finalists actually work at MICA (including her boss)... cough, cough... and 50% of the finalists are from Baltimore, I'm just guessing that she was the big mouth most persuasive in the jury panel.

Since I'm usually the big mouth in any art selection or art jury panel that I'm asked to be in, I think that I'm pretty good in figuring out my fellow big mouths persuasives. And yet, it takes some brass balls to keep a straight face while picking three painters who work with one of the jurors (including her boss) to be in the finalists.

Didn't someone in the panel think and then say: "What will the City Paper say once they find out that one of the juror's boss is one of the finalists? ... C'mon people!"

Awright, awright... maybe I'm being too much of a Kriston-Capps-wannabe here... and we're all pretty sure that she would recuse herself from voting, or discussing, or even being present when her co-workers came up for jurying... right?... right?...[Update: I am told that Ms. Neill recused herself from the panel when her boss was selected], but, I'm just sayin' - it just doesn't look good; but maybe it's just me.

And I'm not even touching the issue that three of the other finalists are also grads of American University... cough, cough.

You are asking by now: "Who's gonna win Campello?"

Sooooooo... based on all of the above, and the angry denial emails or cool and collected clarification emails that I am about to get, I suspect that I may have just about hosed the MICA contingent for this year's prize. If that's the case, then I say that either Belmar or Ilchi get the prize.

If no one gives a fuck about potential nepotism or potential conflict of interests (both of which I have been accused of... and both of which are rampant in the world at large)... then pick any of the MICA employees.

Now you are asking: "Nice tap dance... Who's gonna win Campello?"

Let me split: Ober or Gray - and both would be great choices! Although I may have just tipped the scales in the favor of Belmar, who'd also be a terrific choice. 

Here are the finalists:

Joan Belmar, Takoma Park, MD
Joan Belmar was born in Santiago, Chile. He came to Washington, D.C. in 1999, and was granted permanent residency in the U.S. based on extraordinary artistic merit in 2003.
Belmar's recent work uses a unique technique of 3-D painting, which produces changes in transparency as light and the viewer move in relation to the work. 

Joan Belmar's work is in the permanent collections of the DCCAH Art Bank; the District of Columbia's Wilson Building; the Airport Art Collection in Ibiza, Spain and the Union of Concerned Scientists permanent collection in Washington D.C. His work has also been shown in national and international exhibits.

Belmar was a Mayor's Award Finalist in 2007 as an outstanding emerging artist in Washington, D.C. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded him an artist fellowship grant in 2009. In 2010, the Maryland Arts Council awarded Belmar a 2010 Individual Artist grant in Visual Arts: Painting.
Dennis Farber, Lutherville, MD
Dennis Farber has been a professor at Maryland Instutute College of Art since 1998. Prior to working at MICA, Farber taught at the University of New Mexico, New York University and Claremont Colleges in Claremont, CA. His work has been exhibited regularly in the United States and abroad. It was included in MoMA's millennial exhibition, OPEN ENDS, 1960- present, Innocence and Experience, and has been included in major museum exhibitions and traveled by both the Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum in New York. Farber's work is in permanent collections of major museums, universities and corporations around the United States.
Christine Gray, Alexandria, VA
Christine Gray received a Bachelor of FIne Arts from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Fine Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently a Visiting Artist at the George Washington University.  

Gray has participated in numerous group exhibitions across the United States, most recently at Torrance Art Museum in Torrance, CA and Salisbury University Art Galleries in Salisbury, MD. Gray received Dean's Faculty Research Grant from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. 

She has also received the Jentel Foundation Residency Fellowshop, Golden Foundation Fellowshop, 7 Below Arts Initiative Residency Fellowship, and more.
Hedieh Ilchi, Rockville, MD
Hedieh Ilchi was born in Tehran, Iran and draws her artistic intenstions directly from her dual cultural identity as an Iranian/American. Ilchi received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2006 and her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the American University in 2011. 

She has received many awards including Robyn Rafferty Mathias International Research Mellon Grant from the American University and the Sons of the Revolution in the District of Columbia American Art Essay Prize. Ilchi was recently selected as the semifinalist for the eighth annual Janet and Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. She is an active participant in the local art scene and is currently an artist in residence at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, VA.

Ilchi has shown her work in numerous group exhibitions in the Washington D.C. area including at the Corcoran Gallery of Art + Design, American University Museum at the Katzen Art Center, Irvine Contemporary gallery and Civilian Arts Project. She had a recent solo exhibition at the Contemporary Wing gallery. 

Her work has been reviewed in a number of publications including the Washington Post and Art Papers magazine with a reproduction of her work on the front cover page. She is currently represented by Contemporary Wing gallery in Washington D.C. and Shirin Gallery in Tehran.
Barry NemettStevenson, MD

Barry Nemett, Chair of the Painting Department at Maryland Institute College of Art, studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute and his Masters of Fine Arts at Yale University. His awards include The Hugh Fraser Foundation, Ford Foundation Grant, MICA Trustee Grant for Excellence in Teaching, Maryland State Arts Council Individual Fellowship Grant, ITT International Travel Fellowship/Fulbright Hays Grant, Ely Harwood Schless Award for Excellence in Drawing and Painting at Yale University, Faculty Enrichment Grant and the Berkeley T. Rulon Miller Award. Prof. Nemett has curated numerous traveling exhibitions, and has exhibited his own work nationally and internationally.

His publications include: Images, Objects, and Ideas: Viewing the Visual Arts and Crooked Tracks. He has published articles in Arts Magazine, Museum & Arts: Washington, New Art Examiner, Washington Review, Baltimore magazine, Forays Review and many artist catalogue essays. Nemett has been a Visiting Artist at numerous colleges and universities in the United States, and has been Artist in Residence at Alfred and Trafford Klots Residency Program, Rochefort-en-Terre, France, Bates College, Glasgow School of Art, Keisho Art Association (Japan), Studio Art Centers International Florence and Summer Scholarship Program, Scotland.

Cara Ober, Baltimore, MD

A painter, teacher and writer, Cara Ober layers drawing, painting and printmaking into mixed media works that examine and reinterpret sentimental imagery. 

Ober is commercially represented by Civilian Art Projects in Washington, D.C., with solo exhibits in 2012 and 2009. She has participated in numerous international art fairs, including Art Miami, Aqua Wynwood Miami and Bridge Fair in London. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Washingtonian Magazine, Hamptons Magazine and US News and World Report

In 2009, Cara received a “Best Of Baltimore” award from Baltimore Magazine, calling her “practically an art scene unto herself.” In 2007, Cara took second prize in the Bethesda Painting Awards, after being a finalist in 2006. She is a 2006 Maryland Individual Artist Grant recipient for painting and received a Warhol Grant for Emerging Curators in 2006. 

Cara Ober earned an Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from American University. Cara writes art reviews for The Urbanite Magazine and ArtNews Magazine, and publishes her own award-winning art blog, BmoreArt.

Erin Raedeke, Gaithersburg, MD
Erin Raedeke earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Art from American University. She has participated in exhibitions at many galleries in the United States and London.

Raedeke is a 2013 winner of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Past honors and awards include a Carnegie Melon research grant, William H. Calfee Foundation Painting Award, Merit Scholarship at American University, First Prize in Particular Places and a Creative Arts Research Grant at Indiana University.

Bill Schmidt, Baltimore, MD

Bill Schmidt studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME before moving to Baltimore in 1969. He received an Master of Fine Art from the Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art in 1971. 
He has exhibited his painting, drawing and sculpture extensively in the Mid-Atlantic region. Schmidt has received numerous grants and awards including two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards, one in Sculpture (1990) and one in Painting (2008). In 2004 he attended the Alfred and Trafford Klots Residency Program in Rochefort-en-Terre, France.

After teaching for a decade following graduate school, Schmidt began working in the field of restoration, first on gilded objects and then on furniture finishes. In 2001 he became the Interim Director of the Post-Baccalaureate Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art after being its Resident Artist since 1996. In 2007 he was appointed Director, a position he continues to hold.


Anonymous said...

Nobody cares about this... three of the other candidates come from AU, where one of the jurors is a Professor... and two of those sound like they are probably former students!

Anonymous said...

This is Stephanie Coppula, Director of Marketing for the Bethesda Urban Partnership and Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District. I felt a response was necessary since I present for both jury sessions. Christine Neill recused herself from selecting artist Barry Nemett. His work was selected for the Bethesda Painting Awards exhibition by the other participating judges. Additionally, all three jurors conducted themselves in the most professional manner and only selected the artwork they felt was best and an honorable representation for the 2013 Bethesda Painting Awards. This is a great opportunity for regional artists and we are grateful that so many talented painters apply. We respect the time and effort our panel of jurors take to consider each applicant and to suggest that the artists are selected for this prestigious award by "who has the biggest mouth in the room" is not correct.

Lenny said...

Hi Stephanie,

I agree that both this and the Trawick Prize are GREAT opportunities for our area artists and the work that you guys, Ms. Trawick and the jurors put into it deserves great kudos. I have been, and continue to be, a great supporter for both prizes and all the other great things that BUP does for our area's arts scene.

But it is still eye-brow raising to see the boss of one of the jurors (and kudos to you and her for her recusal) in the finalists -
I am sure that he deserves it in some way manner or form... and yet there's this nagging "feeling" --- maybe I'm being too pedantic and too involved... but...

OK, so I'm a little too facetious in calling her a "big mouth" - maybe "the most persuasive" is a better adjective.



Anonymous said...

There is also lack of common sense on the part of the MICA faculty who applied to this prize when one of their own was one of the jurors, but it really sticks out when the Chair of the Dept applies knowing that one of his professors is one of the jurors, she should have recused herself from all the MICA faculty applicants just as the AU professor hopefully recused himself if any of the applicants were his former students.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they judge the paintings without BIAS!!!! Disgusting because all of those painters that have talent are swept under the rug just because no one knew their name? you might as well not accept any slides of the participants and just have them submit their name. That is messed up.

Lenny said...

Dear Ummmm...

Because it is not humanly possible to be 100% objective when jurying/judging anything within a niche such as the visual arts in a geographically delimited pregion such as ours for a competition such as this...

Put together any three savvy jurors and chances are that they will come up... time and time again... with work by artists whom they know, whom they have worked with, whom they like or dislike... and all of us bring that to the table.

But sometimes, such as this time, it stands out so vividly, that (at least) the question must be asked: "What were they thinking?"

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think we should go one way or the other. Either we ought to get jurors for BPA and the Trawick from quite far away (outside the mid-Atlantic region), so there's no perennial problem with them knowing the applicants, or we can just accept that every year, the jurors will pick people whose work they are familiar with.

As noted, the DC arts scene is a pretty small world. In a situation like the BPA, the judges are likely going to know most, if not all, of the applicants whose work really resonates with them. It is scarcely possible to be selected otherwise, as the jurying process- if memory serves- is based on a handful of artworks alone, without statement, resume, etc. The result being, of course, that artists familiar to the jurors have a vastly stronger case, because the jurors are already aware of the artists' past accomplishments and the conceptual framework around the images presented in the application.

Where can the line of "acceptable influence" be drawn? I'm really not comfortable saying, "well, A taught B to paint, therefore A *must* be prejudiced in B's favor, and A ought to recuse himself or herself from the jury". I mean, what if another of the jurors is basically B's biggest fan, prior to being picked as a juror? Isn't that a serious prejudice as well? But in that case there's no paper trail, no record.

I think we should just make up our minds. If we've picked jurors who we think are honorable, we should assume that they'll exercise their best judgement, and just let them pick who they want, whether it's somebody they know, somebody they taught, or just a complete stranger. And if we don't think they're honorable, then we shouldn't have picked them to begin with. Or we can just get some jurors from the West coast, and the whole thing will be a moot point. But please, no more of this idiocy about the jurors recusing themselves.

Anonymous said...

I call shenanigans.

These things need to be judged by those from outside the area. In the past few years, there have been too many selected artists who went to the same school or were taught by the persons who judged the contest. The DC area is already struggling to get some respect from the art world, this kind of nepotism (perceived or otherwise) isn't going to help.

Hello people, VCU is right down the street! Philly is close by! There are dozens of museums here, packed with educated staffers who could judge these things.

Anonymous said...

Yes! They should have put someone from the VCU or Richmond area on the jury and... oh wait. They did.