News Briefs: Sondheim Semifinalists, Black Arts District’s Plans, WPA Funding for DIY in DC

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Civitella Ranieri Residency

Sondheim semifinalists announced—along with a new, fully funded residency prize in Italy

On February 13, BOPA announced 35 semifinalists for the 15th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, 24 of which are based in Baltimore. The jurors for this year’s prize are all New York-based: Gary Carrion-Murayari, a curator at the New Museum; artist Nona Faustine; and Diya Vij, Associate Curator of Public Programs at the High Line.

What’s at stake this year, though, in addition to the $25,000 grand prize, is the Sondheim Creative Residency, “a six-week long fully funded residency at La Civatella Ranieri in the Umbria region of Italy,” which will be awarded to one finalist not selected for the $25k. Each of the remaining finalists not selected for the grand prize will receive $2,500.

Finalists for the prize will be announced in mid-March, and the finalists exhibition at the Walters Art Museum will open on May 28 and run through July 19. The winner will be announced July 11. The semifinalists exhibition will open during Artscape, July 17–19.

2020 Sondheim Semifinalists:
Lauren Frances Adams (Baltimore, MD), Sobia Ahmad (Silver Spring, MD), Stephanie Barber (Baltimore, MD), Miguel Braceli (Baltimore, MD), Mina Cheon (Baltimore, MD), Hasani Claxton (Towson, MD), Shannon Collis & Liz Donadio (Lutherville, MD & Baltimore, MD), Hoesy Corona (Baltimore, MD), Sue Crawford (Baltimore, MD), Leigh Davis (Washington, DC), Nicoletta de la Brown (Baltimore, MD), Tim Doud (Washington, DC), Elliot Doughtie (Baltimore, MD), Liz Ensz (Baltimore, MD), Arit Etukudo (Severn, MD), Phylicia Ghee (Randallstown, MD), Muriel Hasbun (Silver Spring, MD), Marnie Ellen Hertzler (Baltimore, MD), Taha Heydari (Baltimore, MD), LaToya Hobbs (Baltimore, MD), Phaan Howng (Baltimore, MD), Kei Ito (Baltimore, MD), Gabrielle Lajoie-Bergeron (Baltimore, MD), Amani Lewis (Baltimore, MD), Katherine Mann (Washington, DC), Danni O’Brien (Baltimore, MD), Liora Ostroff (Baltimore, MD), David Page (Baltimore, MD), Zemer Peled (Baltimore, MD), Judith Pratt (Alexandria, VA), Mojdeh Rezaeipour (Washington, DC), John Ruppert (Towson, MD), Ginevra Shay (Baltimore, MD), strikeWare (Mollye Bendell, Jeffrey L. Gangwisch, Christopher Kojzar; Baltimore, MD); Savannah Wood (Baltimore, MD)

Artscape’s theme this year is “Art for a Healthy City.” Applications for Artscape are also open for those interested in participating in the Artists’ Market, outdoor sculpture and installations, performing arts, literary arts, and much more. To be included in the new Artscape Network, “citywide organizations hosting events and activities during the month of July may submit an application…. Galleries, cultural organizations, arts institutions, non profit organizations, small businesses, retail stores, restaurants, and nightlife venues showcase one of four artistic disciplines (visual arts, performing arts, literary arts, culinary arts) are encouraged to apply.”

Black Arts District celebrates new branding and plans

Last weekend, at the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, organizers with the Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts & Entertainment District (shortened as BAD or Black Arts District) revealed its official branding along with a few new plans for the district. The logo seems like a riff on postmodern design and architectural forms, with “colors reminiscent of African and geometric art styles to spell out the district’s new acronym,” reports the Baltimore Sun.

Some of what the district is hoping to launch include a way for local artists to sell their work to prospective home buyers, a monthly live music event, and a “larger art festival” to spur economic activity in the neighborhood. Brion Gill (also known as the poet Lady Brion), executive director of BAD, “said the district will be launching a pilot program to have Baltimore artists’ work featured and on sale in homes that are listed for sale with scheduled open houses. The nonprofit also plans to host ‘First Saturdays’ in the district, at which people will be treated to food and live music from local performers in the region the first Saturday of every month.”

Bringing more visitors, businesses, and development to the district is, of course a balancing act, which Gill is conscious of. As the Baltimore Fishbowl reported last July, when the state officially designated the area as an artist district, Gill noted that “while she would love to see development take root, she and others who’ve pushed for the designation ‘don’t want it to be so commercial that [existing residents] don’t actually live in the space.’” And as Angela N. Carroll reported in Baltimore Magazine, the district “is working to create an application process and oversight committees that will vet new development ventures in the district… to ensure that [developers’] ideas and interests align with the needs of current residents.”

Washington Project for the Arts joins Warhol Foundation for regranting program, “intended to both sustain and stimulate artist-organized culture”

We are used to hearing about artist-run and artist-organized projects referred to as a “labor of love,” a term that’s very sweet and also obscures the very real costs of labor and materials that go into putting on what often amounts to the most interesting and experimental exhibitions and programs. And unless they are certified nonprofits, it can be hard for these groups to apply for funding. So we are heartened to hear about the Washington Project for the Arts‘ new Wherewithal Grants for “public-facing alternative and experimental visual art projects” in the DC area, funded with a $200,000, two-year grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as part of its regional regranting program. (This is a similar model to the Grit Fund in Baltimore, which was started by The Contemporary in 2015 and also funded by the Warhol Foundation. The Grit Fund is now operated by the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation, which was founded by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, a major source of funding for BmoreArt.)

Citing DC’s storied DIY music scenes in a press release, WPA said the district’s visual arts scene “has had an equally rich—if less visible—history of independent artist collaboratives and artist-run spaces.” This funding will provide “project-based support to unaffiliated and under-recognized DC-area artists for projects in non-traditional venues” and projects may include performances, workshops, publications, exhibitions, etc. A “panel of arts professionals from around the country” will review applications and decide the winners. There will be info sessions starting in May, and the application portal opens in July. For more info, follow @wherewithalgrants on Instagram and check out the website.

Deyane Moses' Blackives exhibit at MICA, February 2019

Finalists for MICA’s fifth annual UP/Start Venture Competition Announced

Eight finalists were selected from 37 applicants who presented their entrepreneurial work to judges at a February “pop up and pitch” at MICA for the UP/Start Venture Competition. Part of MICA’s expanding focus on entrepreneurship, UP/Start is for MICA alumni and current students only, and “provides mentorship and capital to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses.” This year’s competition was open only to classes of 2019 and 2020. The winner, who will be selected on April 14, gets seed funding in the amount of $100,000 (funded by the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which has poured a lot of money into entrepreneurship programs at MICA lately), at the finale event in April.

At this final event, according to a press release, “Each finalist will make a final pitch to a new panel of judges (to be announced at a later date), and the funding will be allocated to the winners who present the most compelling and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. The finalists will also each be paired with an industry leader or investor as a mentor to refine their business plans and presentation skills in the weeks leading up to the finale event.” In addition to the seed funding, there’s a $5,000 People’s Choice Award that finale attendees vote for, and those who don’t get funding will get $500 stipends. For more info on UP/Start and the finale event, go to MICA’s website.

Here are the finalists, per MICA’s press release:

Hadassah Dowuona
Founder: Hadassah Dowuona ’20 (Fiber BFA)
Hadassah Dowuona is a Ghanaian-American textile and graphic designer using textiles and graphic design to promote cultural awareness, unite Africans and the African Diaspora and to celebrate black heritage through fashion. Her textiles incorporate themes and symbols from Africa with some western design aesthetics.

M Strickland Design
Founder: M Strickland ’19 (Social Design MA)
M Strickland Design is an equity-based human centered design (HCD) studio in the DMV. It helps social service organizations — like organizations that provide essential services like healthcare, housing and education to marginalized communities — design more impactful products, programs and services.

Makers for Humankind
Founder: Mikea Hugley ’19 (Graphic Design BFA)
Makers for Humankind’s mission is to develop accessible footwear that bridges the gap between the fortunate and less fortunate and many stigmas that plague society. Its signature shoe, the “HM1’s,” is an all-in-one shoe, both sneaker and sandal. The shoe consists of a weather proof sock, a 3-D printed sole, a screw and strap, and can be assembled and reassembled by switching out parts for purposes such as weather, affordability and aesthetics. The company’s goal is to utilize a one-for-one model and partner with community organizations to distribute donations.

The Maryland Institute Black Archive
Founder: Deyane Moses ’19 (Photography BFA) and ’21 (Curatorial Practice MFA)
The Maryland Institute Black Archives (MIBA) uncovers The Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) Black History. The collection shares the stories of the college’s first black artists, the accomplishments of those who attempted to study from 1896 to 1954 but could not because of the color of their skin. MIBA is working to archive the current MICA community in its totality, as well as expand to local archives and other institutions.

Photo Story Workshop
Founder: Heidi Good Boncana ’20 (Social Design MA)
Photo Story Workshop is an educational platform for youth to learn the language of photography and visual storytelling in order to express themselves, amplify voice and build agency from an early age. Photo Story Workshop uses a “photo voice” method of community participatory photography to discuss social issues and promote positive social change.

Founder: Claire Chuff ’20 (Product Design & Graphic Design BFA)
Pura is an ecommerce company that designs, manufactures and sells sustainable, skincare-oriented products. The Pura makeup brush set will be the first of a line of beauty and wellness products designed to be highly functional, aesthetically pleasing and sustainable. The goal of Pura is to offer products that are as good for the environment as they are for your skin.

Small Island Clothing
Founder: Sara Stanton ’19 (Business of Art & Design MPS)
Small Island Clothing is one of the only genderless tie companies designed specifically for transgender and gender nonconforming folks who are tired of having to choose between binary clothing options for “men” or “women,” and who avoid shopping as a result. This genderless clothing line is a new way for disenfranchised folks to feel empowered when shopping for clothing, with a product that provides comfort without labels, for people without labels. Small Island’s vision is a world without labels for “men” and “women.”

Founder: Haven DeAnglis ’20 (Fiber BFA)
STITCH AND DESTROY is the first punk clothing business committed to sustainability and reducing textile waste. STITCH AND DESTROY produces one of a kind punk and alternative clothing and accessories using only recycled materials, such as used clothing and fabric scraps. While being committed to reducing waste, STITCH AND DESTROY also believes sustainable clothing should be affordable. STITCH AND DESTROY received the $500 People’s Choice Award at Friday’s event.

The Walters receives $500,000 endowment for lecture series

The Texas-based Boshell Foundation, which has supported lectures at the Walters since 2004, recently gave the museum a $500,000 endowment to fund an ongoing lecture series on ancient art and architecture related to the museum’s collection.

“The Boshell Lecture Series allows visitors to connect some of the oldest works in our collection to current topics related to their lives,” said Amanda Kodeck, Ruth R. Marder Director of Education and Public Programs, in a press release from the museum. “The Boshell Foundation gives our visitors the opportunity to hear from experts working at the forefront of their fields on topics ranging from ancient Roman cuisine to the evolution of art of the Ancient Americas.”

The Boshell Foundation has also funded lecture series at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Dallas Museum of Art.

Next in this lecture series at the Walters: “How Many Noses Can One Face Have?” on Sunday, April 19, 2–3:30 p.m. “Throughout history, people have restored and repaired objects. In the 18th to mid-19th centuries, for instance, it was common practice to replace the lost arms, legs, and noses of ancient marble sculptures. The impact of this work on our understanding of ancient objects has only recently become the subject of scholarly focus. Using technical evidence gleaned from case studies of restored sculptures, conservation researcher Jerry Podany will examine how changing tastes have influenced the modes and extent of restoration and our perceptions of ancient sculpture. The lecture will be followed by a public reception.”

SHAN Wallace, "FAM" (2018)

Ten solo exhibitions of women artists opening in March at the BMA, and more as part of 2020 Vision

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s Contemporary department has been at work on the installation of nine simultaneous solo exhibitions, most of which open March 1, as part of its “2020 Vision” initiative focusing on women artists. Four of these artists currently live in Baltimore: Valerie Maynard, Elissa Blount-Moorhead, Jo Smail, and SHAN Wallace. The second-floor Contemporary galleries will feature works by Zackary Drucker, Katharina Grosse, Valerie Maynard, Ana Mendieta, Elissa Blount Moorhead, Howardena Pindell, and SHAN Wallace. The Contemporary’s third-floor galleries will host an exhibition of 50 works by Jo Smail. A new piece by Shinique Smith will be on view in the European art galleries beginning March 15. Also opening March 15: Candice Breitz: Too Long, Didn’t Read, a ticketed exhibition featuring two multi-channel video installations, TLDR and Love Story, “both of which examine how our contemporary obsession with celebrity and the explosion of media have distorted our ability to connect with real-world humanitarian issues and empathize with the experiences of those living on the margins of society.” The two pieces together are 35 hours in length, so the museum is offering free return admission to visitors after their first purchase.

Opening April 5, also part of the 2020 Vision, is A Perfect Power: Motherhood and African Art, an exhibition of almost 40 objects exploring “the relationship between artistic creativity and maternal kinship” within matrilineal societies of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century Africa, co-curated by Kevin Tervala, BMA Associate Curator of African Art; Oyèrónké Oyěwùmí, Professor of Sociology, Africana, and Women’s Studies at Stony Brook University; and Jennifer Kingsley, Director of the Museums & Society Program at Johns Hopkins University.

More women artist-focused exhibitions will be opening later this year, featuring Sharon Lockhart, Tschabalala Self, and Lisa Yuskavage.

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