The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is proud to announce that Erick Antonio Benitez is the winner of the 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at The Baltimore Museum of Art on Saturday, July 14. The five other finalists—Nakeya Brown, Sutton Demlong, Nate Larson, Eunice Park, and Stephen Towns—will receive a $2,500 honorarium established by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the BMA through Sunday, August 5.
Esta Tierra Es Tu Tierra (This Land Is Your Land) is an immersive installation focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border and its effects on human lives. In winter 2015 and summer 2016, Erick Antonio Benitez (American, b. 1988) traveled the entirety of the border that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, visiting numerous sites including migrant shelters (in both the U.S. and Mexico), a Tent City jail recently closed for its horrific human rights violations, and various border landscapes. His poetic and sonic video documentary captures onsite interviews with border agents, migrants, and members of the volunteer Minuteman Project, as well as interactions at Friendship Park, where residents of the U.S. and Mexico are permitted to meet face-to-face across a 100-foot, semitransparent span of fencing. Benitez also made audio recordings and photographs and collected sand, dirt, rocks, seashells, yucca flowers, and discarded personal belongings. He preserves and enshrines these objects within the installation as ritual offerings to those who have lost their lives on their journey to the United States.
The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize exhibition is held in conjunction with Artscape and is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. It is one of the summer’s most highly anticipated exhibitions, designed to assist visual artists in the Greater Baltimore region in furthering their careers by allowing them to pursue tracks in their work that may not otherwise be possible. The artists were selected by an independent panel of jurors, who reviewed the exhibition and interviewed each artist to decide the winner. Image Credit: Mitro Hood, The Baltimore Museum of Art
This year’s jurors are: Lauren Cornell, Director of the Graduate Program and Chief Curator at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and Hessel Museum of Art; Margot Norton, Curator at the New Museum, New York; and Kameelah Janan Rasheed, a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and former public high school teacher.
The Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalists 2018 exhibition is organized by BMA Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Cecilia Wichmann along with BOPA Public Art Specialist Kim Domanski. This exhibition is generously sponsored by Patricia and Mark Joseph/The Shelter Foundation.
The prize is held in conjunction with the 37th annual Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival taking place Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 22, 2018 along Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street. Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries of the Maryland Institute College of Art on Friday, July 20 through Sunday, August 5, 2018. An opening reception for the semifinalist exhibition takes place Thursday, July 19, 2018 from 6pm to 9pm at MICA, located at 1301 W. Mount Royal Avenue.
Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize
The Artscape prize is named in honor of Janet and Walter Sondheim who have been instrumental in creating the Baltimore City that exists today. Walter Sondheim, Jr. had been one of Baltimore’s most important civic leaders for over 50 years. His accomplishments included oversight of the desegregation of the Baltimore City Public Schools in 1954 when he was president of the Board of School Commissioners of Baltimore City. Later, he was deeply involved in the development of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor. He continued to be active in civic and educational activities in the city and state and served as the senior advisor to the Greater Baltimore Committee until his death in February 2007.
Janet Sondheim danced with the pioneering Denishawn Dancers, a legendary dance troupe founded by Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Later, she turned to teaching where she spent 15 years at the Children’s Guild working with severely emotionally disturbed children. After retirement, she was a volunteer tutor at Highlandtown Elementary School. She married Walter in 1934, and they were together until her death in 1992.
America’s largest free arts festival, attracting more than 350,000 attendees, offers concerts on multiple outdoor stages, art exhibitions, an artists’ market, a full schedule of dance, theater and opera, jazz, classical, folk and experimental music, children’s activities, exhibitors, and an extensive variety of local food and beverage vendors on Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street.
The 2018 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, Brightside Foundation, Brown Advisory Charitable Foundation, Caplan Family Foundation, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Greater Baltimore Committee, Hecht-Levi Foundation, M&T Bank, Legg Mason, Amy & Chuck Newhall, Rollins-Luetkemeyer Foundation, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, Rosemore, Inc., Rouse Company Foundation, M. Sigmund & Barbara Shapiro Philanthropic Fund, John Sondheim and William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.
With special thanks to those making contributions to the Sondheim Prize in honor of former BOPA CEO Bill Gilmore: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Dr. Frank Marino Foundation, Days Inn Inner Harbor, Suzanne Cohen, Lois and Irving Blum Foundation, Nancy Hackerman, E. Scott Johnson, Kathleen Basham, James Adams, Barbara Bozzuto, Elizabeth Bruen, Elizabeth Freeman, Rosalind Healy, Hopkinson Family Fund, Alyce Myatt, Paula Rome, Kathy Sher, Andrea Vernot & Brent Burkhardt, Laura Burrows, Alexander Baer, Linda Blume, H. Chace Davis, Stanford Gann, Mark Klotzbach, Sarah McCafferty & Andrew Lapayowker, Leslie Helen Shepard, and Janet Marie Smith.
Special thanks to M&T Bank for their annual support of the program, which includes the finalists’ honorarium.
For more information on the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, call 410-752-8632.