Three Sondheim Finalists Announced for 2024

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The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) announces the three finalists for the 2024 Janet & Walter Sondheim Art Prize, which is awarded by BOPA in partnership with the Walters Art Museum (WAM) and supported by the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). Jurors — artist, scholar, and poet Noel W. Anderson; curator, educator, and historian Connie H. Choi; and curator, historian, and lecturer Aaron Levi Garvey — have selected weaver Hellen Ascoli, mixed-media artist Amy Boone-McCreesh, and ceramicist Sam Mack for the final review for the $30,000 prize. These three Baltimore-based artists will exhibit their work at WAM in the Sondheim Finalists’ Exhibition, July17–September 8, 2024.

Over the next few months, finalists will work with WAM curators to select and install pieces for the Finalists’ Exhibition. The experience of collaborating with the curatorial staff at a world class museum like the Walters is an invaluable part of being a Sondheim finalist. Each finalist will also receive a $2,500 M&T Bank Finalist Award, which is designed, in part, to assist them in preparing for the exhibition.

On July 27, 2024, the jurors will meet with each artist for up to 45 minutes in their exhibition space for a final interview. After the interviews, the jurors will meet and decide the recipients for the Sondheim Art Prize and the studio residency at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. The winners will be announced on August 22, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. at the award ceremony and reception hosted by the Walters.

The Sondheim Art Prize is named in honor of Janet & Walter Sondheim, both of whom were instrumental in furthering arts and culture in Baltimore City. Janet Sondheim danced with the pioneering Denishawn Dancers, a legendary dance troupe founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Walter Sondheim, Jr. was one of Baltimore’s most important civic leaders for over 50 years. He was deeply involved in the development of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor and continued to be civically active until his death in 2007, serving as the senior advisor to the Greater Baltimore Committee. This year marks the 19th edition of the Sondheim Art Prize, one of the region’s most prestigious honors. The $30,000 prize is awarded annually to a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Baltimore region.

The Walters is a cultural hub in the heart of Baltimore, located in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The museum’s collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5,000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses 36,000 objects from around the world. Walking through the museum’s historic buildings, visitors encounter a stunning panorama of thousands of years of art, from romantic 19th-century images of French gardens to mesmerizing Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient roman sarcophagi, and serene images of the Buddha. Since its founding, the Walters’ mission has been to bring art and people together to create a place where people of every background can be touched by art. As part of this commitment, admission to the museum and special exhibitions is always free.

Congratulations to the 2024 finalists and best of luck in preparing for the exhibition! Readers can check out their work below.

Hellen Ascoli, Cien tierras, 2023, Installation view, La Nueva Fábrica, Antigua Guatemala, Photo: Ana Werren
Hellen Ascoli: Cien Tierras, April 9-September 19, 2021, Contemporary Arts Center. Photo: Tony Walsh.
Hellen Ascoli

Hellen Ascoli is a Guatemalan weaver based in Baltimore who collaborates with the back-strap loom. Connecting her body to a site through this material-being, Ascoli co-creates works that embody the open language of weaving through sensation, memory, oral traditions, and poetry.

In 2021, she had her first institutional solo exhibition titled “CIEN TIERRAS” at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati which traveled in 2023 to La Nueva Fábrica in Antigua, Guatemala. Currently Ascoli teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore while also developing a practice in Language Justice.



Amy Boone-McCreesh, WIN WIN WIN exhibition view, Peep gallery in Philadelphia, Framed works on paper, custom ottomans, custom window treatments, 2022
Amy Boone-McCreesh, Flowers Through the Gate, 2022, 26” x 21” x 1”, Mixed media, collage, fake flowers, found objects, on paper
Amy Boone-McCreesh, A Day at the Shops, 2022, 28” x 24” x 1.5”, Mixed media, collage, found objects, beads, on paper
Amy Boone-McCreesh

Amy Boone-McCreesh was born on Loring Air Force Base in Maine, received her BFA from Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and her MFA from Towson University. She has been awarded a two-year Hamiltonian Artist Fellowship in Washington, D.C., two Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), and a 2023 Joan Mitchell Fellowship Nominee.

Boone-McCreesh’s work has been included in exhibitions across the country, as well as supported by many institutional exhibitions. Amy’s large-scale works have been acquired by the Department of State in the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico (Art in Embassies, 2013), Facebook (2019), and Capital One (2018). Her work is featured in New “American Paintings” (issues 106 and 118) and “Handmade Life,” published by Thames and Hudson (2016). Based in Baltimore for the last 15 years, she is currently visiting faculty at Dickinson College.



Sam Mack, Solo Exhibition at Galleri Urbane
Sam Mack, from "buff" exhibition via Galleri Urbane
Sam Mack

Sam Mack currently lives and works in Baltimore. They received their MFA in Studio Art in 2019 from the School of Art at the University of Arkansas. Their work uses contemporary and historic ceramic vessels as a primary material in site-responsive sculpture.

Mack has been an artist in residence at Ox Bow School of Art and Artist Residency and SUNY-New Paltz, and has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the JEAE International Arts Center in Jingdezhen, China; Aichi Ceramics Museum in Seto City, Japan; the Clay Studio in Philadelphia; YNG SPC (online); Vernon Filley Art Museum in Pratt, Kansas; and is presently represented by Galleri Urbane in Dallas, Texas.



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