San Dieo Art Prize winners stand together

Emilee Geist

When Patricia Frischer founded the San Diego Art Prize in 2006, she saw it as a way to bring some much-needed attention to the local art scene. Since its founding, the award has always been awarded dually to two established artists, as well as to two emerging artists, and culminating […]

When Patricia Frischer founded the San Diego Art Prize in 2006, she saw it as a way to bring some much-needed attention to the local art scene. Since its founding, the award has always been awarded dually to two established artists, as well as to two emerging artists, and culminating in a joint exhibition of their works.

That is, until this year.

Looking to rejuvenate and even reinvent the prize, Frischer and local curator Chi Essary took the award back to the Turner Prize roots that initially inspired it, opting to simply nominate four local artists, with a committee eventually awarding the prize to one winner.

“They all bring something different to the community, producing fascinating and unique work from different points of view,” says Essary on this year’s nominees.

What they didn’t expect was for the four nominees — photographer Alanna Airitam, installation artist Griselda Rosas, multi-disciplinary artist Kaori Fukuyama and Melissa Walter, who specializes in drawings and sculptural works — to write a letter to the prize committee letting them know they wished to share the prize as a collective rather than compete with one another.

The fact that four local women made such a statement on the U.S. centennial of women’s suffrage wasn’t lost on the Art Prize committee. But their decision is secondary to the work they’ve all put in, both in their practice and their actions within the local art scene. They are artists who have not simply exhibited their work locally, but have also exhibited a desire to nurture and support the community as a whole. By choosing to receive the San Diego Art Prize as a collective, rather than as individuals, they are making a statement that the local art scene is strongest when all artists are prized.

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