Sondheim 2015 Finalists Announced !!!!!! And they are SO GOOD !

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The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announces the finalists for the tenth annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.

The finalists are Mequitta Ahuja, Zoë Charlton, Benjamin Kelley, Magnolia Laurie, Jim Leach, Ryan Syrell, and Wickerham & Lomax.

The 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. The prize gives artists an opportunity to exhibit their work at The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), a prestigious international art institution.

The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is held in conjunction with the annual Artscape juried exhibition and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in partnership with the BMA and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The competition winner is announced during an award ceremony and reception on Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 7pm at The Baltimore Museum of Art, located at 10 Art Museum Drive.

The finalists’ works of art will be exhibited in the BMA’s special exhibition galleries from Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, August 9, 2015. The winner of the competition is selected from the exhibition at the BMA, after a review of the installed art and an interview with each finalist by the jurors. The 2015 competition jurors are Naima Keith, Kelly Kivland and Matthew Saunders.



Mequitta Ahuja (Baltimore, MD)

Mequitta Ahuja’s figurative paintings and works on paper employ Indian painting traditions and reference her African-American and East Indian background. Ahuja has an extensive exhibition history that includes shows at The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY, 2010, 2011, 2012), the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C., 2009, 2012), The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (Houston, TX, 2008), The Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY, 2007), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL, 2005). Her artwork is in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA), and the Urlich Museum (Wichita, KS), among others. Additionally, she has an upcoming exhibit of seven works at the Saatchi Gallery (London, UK, 2015). An artists’ residency at the Maryland Institute College of Art brought Ahuja to Baltimore in 2011 where she received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2013. She is also a recipient of both a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (2011) and a Joan Mitchell Award (2009). Ahuja received her Masters of Fine Art from the University of Illinois in 2003 and her Bachelors of Art from Hampshire College in 1998.


Zoë Charlton (Baltimore, MD)

Read BmoreArt’s review of Zoe Charlton’s last exhibit: Festoon.

Zoë Charlton creates detailed drawings that explore the ironies of contemporary social and cultural stereotypes. She is an Associate Professor of Art at American University and is represented by CONNERSMITH gallery in Washington D.C. She In addition to CONNERSMITH (Washington, D.C., 2013), her exhibitions include the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (Wilmington, DE, 2009), and Wendy Cooper Gallery (Chicago, IL, 2006). Her work has been included in national and international exhibitions at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte, NC, 2015), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR, 2014), Studio Museum Harlem (New York, NY, 2012), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (Houston, TX, 2000), the Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland 2006), and Haas & Fischer gallery (Zurich, Switzerland, 2006). She is a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner grant (2012) and a Rubys grant (2014). She received her Masters of Fine Art from the University of Texas at Austin and participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting (Skowhegan, ME, 2001), Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD, 2003), and ART342 (Fort Collins, CO, 2010).

Benjamin Kelley (Baltimore, MD)

With motives driven by the smell of oak, high heels on glass, and the elegance of precision, Benjamin Kelley re-contextualizes found objects with altered and fabricated structures. His local and national solo exhibitions include CONNERSMITH (Washington, D.C., 2013), Open Space (Baltimore, MD, 2011) and Patty and Rusty Rueff Gallery at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN, 2009), among others. Group exhibitions include those at The Contemporary (Baltimore, MD, 2012), Maryland Art Place (Baltimore, MD, 2011, 2010), Gallery Four (Baltimore, MD, 2010) and Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD, 2009). Kelley has been awarded the Toby Devon Lewis Fellowship (2010) and the GoGo Emerging Artist Projects of CONNERSMITH, Washington, D.C. (2010-2013). His work has also been featured in such publications as the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and Baltimore City Paper. Benjamin Kelley is a 2010 Masters of Fine Art graduate of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art.


Magnolia Laurie (Baltimore, MD)

Read BmoreArt’s Studio Visit and Interview with Magnolia Laurie.

Magnolia Laurie creates detailed paintings and installations that reference the sustained need to try and to build, with sometimes precarious results. She received her Bachelors of Art in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College and her Masters of Fine Art from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a former Hamiltonian Fellow (2009-2011) and was a Platform Artist in Washington, D.C.’s (e)merge Art Fair (2012, 2013). She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (2013), the Jentel Foundation in Wyoming (2013), the Creative Alliance in Baltimore (2007-2010), and the Vermont Studio Center (2007). Magnolia is a recipient of a Mid-Atlantic Creative Fellowship in 2015, a Maryland State Arts Council Grant in 2011, and an Individual Artist Grant from the Creative Baltimore Fund in 2009. Her recent solo exhibitions include those at frosch&portmann, (New York, NY, 2012) and VisArts (Rockville, MD, 2012). Her work has also been featured in exhibitions at the Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, NY, 2014), Jordan Faye Contemporary (Baltimore, MD, 2014, 2013), School 33 Art Center (Baltimore, MD, 2013, 2010) and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, MO, 2011). Laurie is also a faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art and American University.


Jim Leach (Baltimore, MD)

Read BmoreArt’s recent Interview and Studio Visit with Jim Leach.

Jim Leach’s sculpture has been in various solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD, 2014), Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA, 2014), Maryland Art Place (Baltimore, MD, 2014), The Gowanus Loft (Brooklyn, NY, 2013) and Legation, A Gallery (Cleveland, OH, 2012). He also has an upcoming solo exhibition scheduled at The Sculpture Center (Cleveland, OH). In 2013, Leach was selected by Maryland Art Place for the 30: Thirty Creative Minds Under 30 lecture series and in 2014 to speak in Sculpture X: The Social Political Object. Leach has been reviewed in several periodicals including Cleveland’s Scene Magazine, Washington City Paper, and Baltimore’s BmoreArt. Leach received his Bachelors of Fine Art degree from Kent State University in 2011 and his Masters of Fine Art degree from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014, where he was the recipient of the 2012-2014 Rinehart Fellowship.

Ryan Syrell (Baltimore, MD)

Check out BmoreArt images from Ryan Syrell’s recent solo exhibition at the John Fonda Gallery and a BmoreArt review from Current.

Ryan Syrell’s work focuses on the interrelationship between cartooning, abstraction, perception, and the recollection of visual data. Syrell’s work has recently been included in Baltimore, Contemporary Cross Section at the Silvermine Arts Center (New Canaan, CT, 2014), the Washington Project for The Arts’ Select 2014 at Artisphere (Arlington, VA) and the Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York, NY), as well as a solo exhibition entitled Roughed In at the John Fonda Gallery (Baltimore, MD, 2014). He has additionally been featured in exhibitions at Art Basel (Miami, FL, 2013), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC, 2013), Current Space (Baltimore, MD, 2013), the Everything Is Festival (Los Angeles, CA, 2012, 2010) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2008), among several others. Catalogs featuring Ryan’s essays are in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art library, the International Center for Photography library and the Indie Photobook Library. In 2014, Ryan also received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Art Council for his work in sculpture. He received his Bachelors of Fine Art from the State University of New York at Purchase.

BOND SALON (Season 3) and UNTITLED, 2014 from duox on Vimeo.

Wickerham & Lomax (Baltimore, MD)

Check out BmoreArt’s Scene Seen post: images and text from Wickerham and Lomax’s recent exhibit at Springsteen Gallery.

Wickerham & Lomax is the collaborative name of artists Malcolm Lomax and Daniel Wickerham. Formerly known as DUOX, the two have been collaborating since 2009. Working across diverse media (sculpture, installation, websites, prints, video, and performance), curatorial platforms, and institutional contexts, they have created a body of work that is focused on the deviation from the digital space to the physical space. Wickerham & Lomax have exhibited widely in both Baltimore and New York, including solo exhibitions at Springsteen Gallery (Baltimore, MD, 2015), the New Museum (New York, NY, 2014), Artists Space (New York, NY, 2012), Open Space (Baltimore, MD, 2009), as well as a solo exhibition at Link Art Center (Brescia, Italy, 2014) and an upcoming exhibition at AC Institute Art Gallery (New York, NY, 2015). They have also been included in several group exhibitions, including Baltimore, Contemporary Cross Section at the Silvermine Arts Center (New Canaan, CT, 2014) and Baltimore Liste at The Contemporary (Baltimore, MD, 2012). Wickerham and Lomax both received their Bachelors of Fine Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009.

The 2015 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Alex Brown & Sons Charitable Foundation, Amy & Chuck Newhall, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Hecht-Levi Foundation, Legg Mason, M&T Charitable Foundation, M. Sigmund & Barbara K. Shapiro Philanthropic Fund, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, John Sondheim and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

For more information on the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, call 410-752-8632. For more information on the Baltimore Museum of Art, call (443) 573-1700 or visit

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