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The Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts previewed the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2014 Finalists Exhibition this past Friday, June 20th.

The Sondheim Artscape Prize is a $25,000 fellowship awarded each year to visual artists living and working in the Greater Baltimore region. M&T Bank has partnered with BOPA to establish the M&T Bank Sondheim Finalists’ Awards, which provide a $2,500 honorarium for each of the remaining finalists not selected for the fellowship.

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Organized by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in conjunction with Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival, the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2014 Finalists Exhibition will be on view at the Walters Art Museum  June 21 – August 17, 2014. Now in its ninth year, the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize recognizes the achievements of a visual artist living or working in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Southeastern Pennsylvania. The winner of the $25,000 Sondheim Prize will be announced at a special ceremony and reception at the Walters Art Museum, Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 7 p.m.

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2014 FINALISTS:       

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 Lauren Adams (Baltimore, MD)                               Kyle Bauer (Baltimore, MD)

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     Stewart Watson (Baltimore, MD)                        Marley Dawson (Washington, DC)

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      Neil Feather (Baltimore, MD)                              Kyle Tata (Baltimore, MD)

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   Shannon Collis (Baltimore, MD) 

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The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Alex. Brown & Sons Charitable Foundation, Baltimore Festival of the Arts, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Hecht-Levi Foundation, Legg Mason, M&T Charitable Foundation, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, John Sondheim and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

The exhibition and opening event at the Walters Art Museum have been generously supported by the Talkin Fund of the Columbia Foundation, Time Group Investments, Rachel and Joseph Rabinowitz, The Zamoiski, Barber, Segal Family Foundation, and the Greif Family Fund.

This is the thirtieth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Cara Ober
Age: 39
Website: www.caraober.com
Current Location: Charles Village
Hometown: Westminster, MD
School: MFA from MICA

Patina, 2012. Acrylic on Canvas. 60x48

Patina, 2012. Acrylic on Canvas. 60×48

Current favorite artists or artwork: Most of my favorite artists are local Baltimoreans but some of my more famous heroes are Philip Taaffe, Louise Bourgeois, Rob Pruitt, Kara Walker, & Ed Ruscha

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I am a full-time art blogger at BmoreArt.com! It’s my dream job and I love it – but this can be tough to balance out. I also teach classes at MICA and Johns Hopkins and I am a mom to a 3 year old. What life?

Images: Visa Card, 2012. Ink on Cut Paper. 9x12

Images: Visa Card, 2012. Ink on Cut Paper. 9×12

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? I am attracted to decorative, low-brow, and commercial images. I love attempting to transform items that are not supposed to be art into fine art. I have a lot of questions about the arbitrary nature of taste and market value.

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? Being alone in my studio is heaven. Updating my resume not so much.

What research do you do for your art practice? I am constantly looking at and writing about contemporary visual artists.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? I spend a lot of time thinking and, if that doesn’t help, I make new work out of destroying old work.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? My aesthetic tends to be ‘D. All of the above’ so a big challenge is paring things down, editing out extraneous information.

What is your dream project? A residency situation where I have unlimited access to fabric and printmaking. And I get to hang out with smart people.

Installation View from Pop Deco, A Solo Show at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, DC

Installation View from Pop Deco, A Solo Show at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, DC

This is the twenty-ninth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Leah Cooper
Age: 46
Website: www.leahcooper.com
Current Location: Hampden
School: MFA from MICA (2009), BA, Studio Art from University of Maryland College Park (1989)

Drawing the Undifferentiated, 2013,  VisArts, Rockville, Md  installation detail- mixed media-materials include: vitrines, graphite, tape, and existing site elements, dimensions vary

Drawing the Undifferentiated, 2013, VisArts, Rockville, Md
installation detail- mixed media-materials include: vitrines, graphite, tape, and existing site elements,
dimensions vary

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I work as an Academic Advisor for MICA undergrads and teach an occasional course there as well. Balancing work, studio time, life?  Not sure I’ve always felt successful in doing this, but recently, and going forward, my intent is to minimize the ways in which I perceive them as separate entities and begin to consider each as part of a whole.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? As an artist who is captivated by the everyday, my focus often narrows to the smallest of cracks on the sidewalk and the faintest of shadows on the wall. Through the exploration of unnoticed properties of the everyday, I aim to formulate work that examines an expanded notion of drawing, questions the edge of perceptibility, and reconsiders the role of art object in relation to audience.  Within these investigations my intent is to produce work that yields questions rather than asserts conclusions. Thus, the effectiveness of my practice is bound to the quality of my questions.

I find art production at the intersection of theory and practice an intriguing and demanding way of working. Questions arising from theoretical studies are articulated in the artwork; resulting products are then examined and mined for further questions.  Although reflexive, this dialogue between idea and object is not insular. Rather, I attempt to maintain an open approach, centrifugal in nature, generating inquiries at the edge of current methods and disciplines.

The preceding described my ‘work’, but as an installation artist I often find defining or describing my ‘studio practice’, for others as well as myself, a bit more problematic.  For me research and physical production of the artwork are equally ‘studio practice’ and for that reason my actual studio space is often seemingly austere, not always a place of ‘making’. When there is physical making, minimal evidence exists: paper, pencils, eraser shaving all are visible, but when the production gives way to study, the space loses any trace of the ‘artist’s studio’ and resembles, or more accurately, IS an office.

What part of art making to you like or enjoy the most? The least? Occasionally, there are moments when I realize that I’ve lost track of time; hours pass without any awareness of duration. I savor these instances. Although, I would describe myself as pragmatic and analytical to a fault, I ascribe a rather romantic notion to such an event; I believe these occurrences, where time seems to collapse, are moments where the space between what I’m doing and who I am has also collapsed.

The source of these episodes are varied; working on an installation, debating an idea with a fellow artist/thinker, renovating my house, and even rearranging items on a shelf.  It is this loss of time that I find to be the most fulfilling part of creating.

allographic drawing (site responsive drawing series) 2010-ongoing,

allographic drawing (site responsive drawing series) 2010-ongoing,

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Of course, there is an ebb and flow to my practice.  I move through lean times by accepting them as periods where ideas may be more dormant.  This has not always been the case; in the past I’ve resisted the idea of lying fallow and struggled each time I didn’t find myself headed to my studio to ‘work’. However, more recently, I have begun to contemplate the idea that perhaps my mental boundaries of what I consider to be my practice need to be expanded or perhaps even dismantled.  A little over a year ago I renovated a large portion of my home.  During that time, I had no studio; it became a victim of the rehab. As a result I felt my practice was ‘on hold’. It was only after the project was complete that I began to reflect and recognize that the very same ideology, questions, and aesthetics that drive my work were also clearly evident in the space I had created in renovating my home. These elements are with me when I walk down the street or hike through the woods. Yes, once again I find the pragmatist in me at war with the romantic, but in this case it is my analytical side that prevails.  How I experience the world is what drives the questions in my practice. If my work questions the overlooked often extraordinary properties of the everyday, then it follows that I would find my ‘practice’ in the everyday and allow portions of my everyday to be included in what I consider my art practice.

What is your dream project? To spend a full week at Walter de Maria’s the Lightning Field, using varied applications of site responsive drawing to reiterate the ‘landscape’ he created.

This is the twenty-eighth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Aharon Bumi
Current Location: Baltimore
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Previous Education: University of King’s College; Cambridge University

Ascesis – Documentation of Installation, 2011 Found wood, cinder blocks, plaster, assorted tools, paint, and rope Dimensions variable  (Description: this set was constructed in collaboration with dancer and choreographer, Karina Champoux. Over the course of two weeks, we directed and recorded one another in our use of various materials, supports and contraptions, restructuring them daily. )

Ascesis – Documentation of Installation, 2011
Found wood, cinder blocks, plaster, assorted tools, paint, and rope
Dimensions variable
(Description: this set was constructed in collaboration with dancer and choreographer, Karina Champoux. Over the course of two weeks, we directed and recorded one another in our use of various materials, supports and contraptions, restructuring them daily. )

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? Over the last several years, my interests have been oriented around questions of making, working, and building. For me, this has been a way of acknowledging, or perhaps simply imagining, the various codes in which an artistic practice is implicated. What is the space of our working and thinking? And how is it constructed, reconstructed, deconstructed over and over again? In the studio, I tend to pursue these kinds of questions at multiple levels –with larger projects offset by small material experiments.

What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I like the moments of drawing with purpose – when an idea (a motif etc.) starts to take shape on a page. I dislike the moments associated with “wrapping up” the work – the showing and the telling, the web-life of the thing, the repeated and perhaps unavoidable return to professional practices.

Study for Working Hands 2013 Graphite, mylar, ink-jet print and canary bumwad on paper 6 x 6 inches

Study for Working Hands 2013
Graphite, mylar, ink-jet print and canary bumwad on paper
6 x 6 inches

What research do you do for your art practice? Very often, the research consists of holding onto a particular moment in somebody else’s work – a motif, an image, an aspect or particular part of an image, etc. – and keeping it close by. I’ve met writers who say that they sometimes walk around with a specific book in their pocket – not so much to read it as to re-imagine its contents. . . I think my research operates similarly.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Yes, for sure, always and repeatedly. By now, it seems like a cycle of necessary contractions. When it happens, I tend to pack up my things, and move for a while into other ways of working and thinking. That time, however long, allows me to come back into a new set of working conditions.

Needle-Nose, 2013, Graphite and acrylic paint on mounted graph paper 28 x 22

Needle-Nose, 2013,
Graphite and acrylic paint on mounted graph paper
28 x 22

How do you challenge yourself in your work? For a long time, I have been interested in the way that artists consciously restrict themselves to various sets of working parameters. Most recently, these include people like Lygia Clark, Dorothea Rockburne, Al Taylor and Roni Horn. For all of these people, the serial nature of their work represents a kind of repeated investigation into a particular set of materials. At the moment, I think I tend to challenge myself in a similar way. One part of me proposes a field of limitations. And the other part tries to extend these limitations through various experiments.

What is your dream project? I recently met someone who was working in an aeronautical lab with a 40 foot simulated wind-tunnel. After we met, I fantasized about making a work in the wind-tunnel.  Undoubtedly, I am misunderstanding what the space looks like.

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Martine Alicia Workman
Age: 34
Website: www.martinealicia.com
Current Location:  SW Waterfront, DC
Hometown: Lake Bluff, IL (born in Cumberland, MD)
School: California College of the Arts

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Current favorite artworks & other things: Christian and Islamic illuminated manuscripts, Japanese woodcuts and Ehon books, ephemera, early American newspapers, Agnes Martin, Albrecht Dürer & Amy Gerstler

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I do graphic design and illustration, but right now I’m taking care of my newborn son full time. I’ve also worked in a bakery, and worked as a caretaker for the elderly. If I can’t make it to the studio, I’ll draw in my sketchbook and think about new projects. All of my work first takes shape in my sketchbook.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? I make works on paper and artist’s books/zines rooted in drawing. My practice is project based and changes depending on what idea I’m pursuing, although every project begins in my sketchbook.

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What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I love the process of making art, and I’ve always loved to draw. I love making messes and I hate cleaning up. I’m trying to get better at the administrative side of being an artist.

What research do you do for your art practice? I enjoy research and am always trying to learn something new; sometimes it makes it into my work and sometimes it doesn’t. I ask my artist and librarian friends for opinions/help and use the internet. I have collected a bunch of books for my own library I refer to often.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music?TV: I love murder mystery shows and will play them while I’m assembling books or doing production work. Murder, She Wrote and Moonlighting are my favorites but I will watch any mystery show! Music: I’m a huge Prince fan and enjoy soul music. Movies: Pedro Almodovar is my favorite director. Books: I have a newborn son, so I’ve only been reading baby books for a while… Happiest Baby on the Block is pretty great!

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Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? During dry spells, I’ll do production work, make lists of practical things to do(application deadlines, research/order new materials, etc) and I’ll read a lot and do research on a new topic of interest. I don’t actively try to get out of them, since my work has ebbs and flows that are equally important to me.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? I push myself to learn something new with every project. This is easy to do in the research phase of a project, but can get frustrating when materials or techniques aren’t working out the way you hope they will.

What is your dream project? An artist book with an unlimited budget and large staff at my disposal is a total dream!

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This is the twenty-sixth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Kyle is one of seven finalists, whose work will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; remaining semifinalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Kyle Tata
Age: 24
Website: www.kyletata.us
Current Location: Charles Village
Hometown: Baltimore,MD
School: Maryland Institute College of Art, BFA

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Current favorite artists or artwork: Too many to list… Constant all time favorites:Christopher Williams, Paul Sietsema, Joachim Koester, Jill Magid, Michael Asher, Allen Sekula, Dan Graham, Tom Burr, Lewis Baltz, James Welling. Artists I am currently really into: Carl Gunhouse, Daniel Shea, Christopher Rodriguez, Sam Falls, Alex De Corte. Some of my awesome friends from Baltimore that inspire me every day: James Bouché, John Bohl, Andrew Liang, Ryan Syrell, Ginevra Shay, Elle Perez, Val Karuskevich.

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I currently work part time as the photography instructor at Baltimore School for the Arts teaching high school classes in darkroom and digital photography, as well as a few other part time jobs. I am lucky to have a job that allows me to constantly think about art and photography. It is also great to be able to teach analog darkroom photography on a high school level to students who have never had the experience before of printing their own work in a darkroom. Film photography is such a great medium and I’m so thankful that Baltimore School for the Arts continues to have a functioning darkroom.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? My work is often conceptually based projects that result in a photographic series, sometimes the end product of that series will be a book, a photographic installation, or both. As of late I have been trying to create work that does not have a true end product but instead can simultaneously exist in many different formats. My photography recently has becoming more abstract but is based on specific materials that relate to 20th century Modernism and its relation to architecture. I am very interested in the role that abstraction plays in everyday domestic life.

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What part of artmaking to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I often get too caught up in theory and concept before I even start a piece and sometimes that hinders me from actually creating a physical object. The part I enjoy the most has to be the grey area after the series of work has transitioned from simply being an idea in my sketchbook to something that occupies real space but before the series is complete. I have a hard time finishing a series completely, I am constantly going back into past work and revising it.

What research do you do for your art practice? A lot of my projects deal with some sort of cultural history, so I do tend to do lot of time looking up specific historical events and topics in libraries and online before I actually start making a work. I consider artistic research to be a very important aspect of my practice.

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What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music? I’ve recently read “Draw it with your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment” and it definitely has made me think more critically about my approach as an art teacher. As for music, I’ve had the new St. Vincent and Future Islands albums in heavy rotation lately. I have an addiction to buying artist books and exhibition catalogues, I recently got Sara Cwynar’s Encyclopedia of Kitsch which is a fantastic photography/artist’s book with a completely unique design.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? I feel that I constantly shift between phases of complete stagnation to periods of intense work and production. When I get in a dry spell I try to force myself simply work on anything to keep my hands busy even if that work doesn’t actually lead to a complete finish project, it helps me to start something new.

How do you challenge yourself in your work? Lately I’ve been trying to force myself to incorporate new media in my artwork and not simply continue a formula. My newest work is probably the least traditional photographic work that I’ve done in a long time and visually is much more aligned with abstract painting than straight forward photography. One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to constantly push your practice and not get not let the work become too predictable .

What is your dream project? I know this isn’t what is meant by this question, but lately I have been having dreams about making artwork that doesn’t actually exist in real life. It has been weird to visualize what artwork my subconscious wants to make compared to my actual work. Sometimes the work in the dreams is pretty close to real life but other times it has been really strange and unlike anything I’ve done before.

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of interviews with each of the Sondheim Award Semifinalists. Finalists have been announced, and will be on exhibit at the Walters Art Museum June 21 to August 17; those not selected as finalists with be exhibited at the Decker, Meyerhoff and Pinkard Galleries at MICA  July 17 to August 3, 2014.

Name: Trevor Young
Website: www.trevoryoung.net
Current Location: My studio is in downtown Silver Spring.
Hometown: Takoma Park, MD
School: University of the Arts, Philadelphia (BFA)

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Current favorite artists or artwork: Valeri larko, Stepehn Magsig, Glenn Barr, Joe Deal, Olivia Rodriguez, Lewis Baltz, Michael Massaia

What is your day job? How do you manage balancing work with studio time with your life? I am a full-time artist. I get the pleasure and challenge of working every day. I work with a two fantastic  gallery’s.  J.Cacciola gallery, NY and David Klein gallery in Birmingham MI.

How would you describe your work, and your studio practice? My work focuses on “non-places” such as ATMs, gas stations, airports, highways, and factories that appear to me as minimal architectural forms. I am drawn to the spatial relationships and specific light found in these places. The geometry can be really dramatic.

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What part of art making to you like or enjoy the most? The least? I like all the aspects and the challenges that painting and spatial relating imposes on me.

What research do you do for your art practice? My research starts with my grabbing my camera and getting into my car.  I photograph on road trips and in my own neighborhood. I rarely don’t have my camera and sketchbook with me.  I consider photography to be part of the drawing stage of a painting that allows me to collect images from either my vehicle or from my tripod.

What books have you read lately you would recommend? Movies? Television? Music?Wayne Thiebaud talking about Giorgio Morandi.on the Morandi Museum website.

Do you ever get in creative dry spells, and if so, how do you get out of them? Rarely do I dry out creatively. I am worker not a dreamer. If I slow I get busy adjusting my process.  I might slow but I have never had a dry spell thankfully.

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How do you challenge yourself in your work? I create new problems to solve in each painting.  I sometimes choose difficult compositions that I don’t fully understand and have to find a way to make them work.

What is your dream project? My dream project would be producing a large series of panoramic view of airports from above. I have always loved DFW airport. It’s grand place that’s void of the short comings of natural space.