1. As the Visual Arts Specialist, what is your position within the Arts Council at BOPA?
I work as a project manager for the Sondheim Artscape Prize, the Municipal Art Society’s Artist Travel Prize and Public Art Prize, Public Art Projects, and the visual arts awards for the state’s Scholastic Art Awards.
2. This is an exciting time of the year for you, with the launch of the 15th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize application. Can you tell us a bit about this process and what we can expect over the next few months leading up to Artscape?
Sure! The call for artists just closed, so I review all the applications to make sure they are complete before sending them along to our jurors to score. Our jurors (Gary Carrion-Murayari from the New Musuem, photographer Nona Faustine, and Diya Vij from the High Line) will score all 300 entries, and from those scores the top 25 to 30 artists will be semi-finalists, who submit additional materials which the jurors score again. This scoring is used to shape the discussion in the in-person meeting (usually in New York), where the jurors select the finalists for the prize. The in-person meeting is crucial to the process, in my experience this helps to come up with a very thought-through group of artists. These finalists are then notified and have meetings with The Walters Art Museum staff to help figure out the gallery layout, needs of each artist, etc. That show will open Thursday, May 28, 2020. Then, the jurors will travel to Baltimore to interview each artist in their exhibition on Saturday, July 11, 2020 with the announcement of the recipient of the award that evening.
3. Are there any new aspects to the Sondheim Prize for this year?
There is – in addition to the $25,000 Sondheim Prize, one of the finalists will be selected for a Sondheim Creative Residency, a six-week fully funded residency at Civitella Ranieri, in the Umbria region of Italy!
4. What types of art are you excited for, or hope to see, in the entries for the Sondheim Prize this year?
I’m always excited to see artists whose work I haven’t seen before, and longtime Baltimore/DC artists making new work.
5. What do you find most rewarding about your work as the Visual Arts Specialist?
Working with artists and partnering with great art organizations to produce our projects is really fun. I also love getting feedback from artists and making changes to our programs to make them as sensitive to artists’ needs as possible.
6. How long have you been with BOPA, and what lead you to your position here?
I’ve been at BOPA for six years. I came here from MICA, working in the exhibitions department with some adjunct teaching positions in the printmaking department. Also, as part of a post-graduate residency, I was able to run a gallery in Venice for a year, which was my first time working on that side of arts administration work.
7. What’s your background as an artist?
I mostly work on paintings these days – I have a lot of experience in printmaking, but having a toddler at home makes it tough to get to a print shop, so I work in my home studio. Academically, I received a BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1998 and an MFA from Indiana University in 2004.
8. What are some artists, installations or exhibitions that stand out to you from your years here at BOPA?
I loved Scott Pennington’s “SuperGame” and Mark Rice and Lauren Pakradrooni’s “10,000” from Artscape 2014, “The Thing is Close” by Cindy Cheng and Jackie Milad at School 33 Art Center in 2018, the whole of Art@Work’s murals, and honestly all the artists and everyone involved with the Sondheim Prize last year – it was such a good experience, and I learned so much from everyone!
9. And finally – in between reviewing all the Sondheim Prize applications – how do you like to spend your free time?
The aforementioned toddler takes up most of this “free time” you speak of, but he is really fun and energetic, it’s a delight to see how he is learning and growing all the time. I love spending time with my wife Miriam, trying new restaurants or going to see movies- Knives Out and Parasite are recent favorites. I generally read around 60-80 books a year, and it’s really important to me to keep up with that.