Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) are proud to announce that Cindy Cheng is the winner of the 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at an award ceremony at the Walters Art Museum on July 15, 2017. The six remaining finalists—Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata, and Amy Yee—each received a $2,500 honorarium provided by M&T Bank Charitable Foundation for a total donation of $15,000. Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the Walters through Sunday, August 13, 2017.

Cindy Cheng (Baltimore, MD) creates complex constructions and installations that investigate the relationship between drawings and objects and are incubators for history, memory and reflections on the physical and abstract self. Her work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at St. Charles Projects (Baltimore, MD, 2016), ‘sindikit (in collaboration with Cheeny Celebrado-Royer) (Baltimore, MD, 2016), Present Junction (Toronto, Canada, 2015), Thomas H. and Mary K. Williams Gallery at Mount Saint Mary’s University (Emmitsburg, MD, 2016), Flashpoint (Washington, DC, 2014), E-merge Art Fair (Washington, DC, 2013) and has an upcoming solo show at Ditch Projects (Portland, OR, 2017). Cheng received her BA from Mount Holyoke College. Cheng received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2008 and then earned her Masters of Fine Art from MICA’s Mount Royal School of Art in 2011. She is currently teaching at MICA in the Drawing Department, and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and at the Anderson Ranch Artist Residency (Snowmass Village, CO). In 2016, Cheng and was a finalist for the Trawick Prize and in 2013 a semifinalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.

The Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2017 Finalists exhibition is held in conjunction with Artscape and is produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. The $25,000 fellowship is awarded each year to an artist working in the Greater Baltimore region, and is designed to support the artist in the development of new work. The winner is selected by an independent panel of jurors, who review the exhibition and interview each artist. This year’s jurors are: Ruba Katrib, curator at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York, where she organizes exhibitions, educational and public programs, publications, and coordinates program presentation; Clifford Owens, a New York-based contemporary artist who works in performance, photography, text, and video; and Nat Trotman, associate curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Friday, July 21, through Sunday, August 6.

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. Artscape runs from July 21 through July 23. The festival’s total economic impact on Baltimore City is $25.97 million, according to a 2012 study by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

The 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the Abell Foundation, Alex Brown & Sons Charitable Foundation, Charlesmead Foundation, Ellen Sondheim Dankert, France-Merrick Foundation, Hecht-Levi Foundation, Legg Mason, M&T Charitable Foundation, Amy & Chuck Newhall, Henry & Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, M. Sigmund & Barbara Shapiro Philanthropic Fund, John Sondheim and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Janet & Walter Sondheim
The Artscape prize is named in honor of Janet and Walter Sondheim, who were instrumental in creating the Baltimore City that exists today. Walter Sondheim, Jr. was 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, and championing the development of Charles Center and the Inner Harbor. He was active in civic and educational activities in the city and state, and served as 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 and she spent 15 years at the Children’s Guild. 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.

The Walters Art Museum, located in downtown Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre Streets, is free and open to the public. At the time of his death in 1931, museum founder Henry Walters left his entire collection of art to the city of Baltimore. The collections include ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, and Old Master and 19th-century paintings. The Museum Store offers distinctive gifts, jewelry and books based on the museum’s collections.

Free admission to the Walters Art Museum is made possible by the combined generosity of individual members, friends and benefactors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.

The 2017 Sondheim Finalists are Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Cindy Cheng, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata, and Amy Yee.

The museum exhibition of Sondheim Finalists will be hosted at The Walters from June 17 – August 13, 2017 with free admission for all visitors. Besides the Saturday, July 15, award ceremony and reception, the museum is planning to host a series of artist talks with the finalists that will be open to the public. Additionally, BmoreArt and Area 405 will curate an Artscape Gallery Network exhibition to recognize the past 70 Sondheim Finalists with a reception on June 30th.

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2016 Sondheim winners FORCE (Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle)

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is excited to announce the 12th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. Applications are now being accepted for the prestigious competition which awards a $25,000 fellowship to a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Baltimore region.

An exhibition of the finalists’ work will be featured in the Special Exhibition Galleries at the Walters Art Museum. The prize is held in conjunction with the 36th annual Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival taking place Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 23, 2017 along Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street.

Deadline: Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

Applictaion fee: $30 for 5 artworks or a 10 minute video

Awards: $25,000 fellowship

Award Ceremony Reception: Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 7pm at the Walters Art Museum

Approximately six finalists are selected for the final review for the prize. Their work is showcased in the Special Exhibition Galleries at the Walters Art Museum from Saturday, June 17 through Sunday, August 13, 2017. Additionally, an exhibition of the semifinalists’ work is shown in the Decker and Meyerhoff galleries of MICA on Friday, July 21 through Sunday, August 6, 2017. An opening reception for the semifinalist exhibition takes place Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 6pm to 9pm at MICA, located at 1301 W. Mount Royal Avenue.

Click here to learn more.

This morning, Tuesday June 21st, The Baltimore Museum of Art, in partnership with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, closed the Museum for a press preview of the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize finalists exhibition, before it opens to the public on Wednesday, June 22 – Sunday July 31st.

The exhibition showcases the seven finalists in the running for the ultimate Sondheim Artscape prize of a $25,000 fellowship, which is awarded to one Baltimore artist each year.

The seven finalist each presented a diverse, exciting, and extremely thought provoking gallery of their personal work. addressing important themes such as race, sexual assault, religion, and LGBTQ issues.

2016 finalists:

Theo Anthony

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Filmmaker and photographer Theo Anthony has explored poignant themes and, at times, political subjects in locations that range from his Baltimore home to Africa. The video Peace in the Absence of War (Baltimore, MD) considers responses by citizens, law enforcement, and national media to the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent Baltimore uprising of April 2015. Anthony addresses this topic further in a series of photographic portraits of helmeted police officers.

Imagery of men and boys in helmets continues in photographs of football players and a child living on the streets of Masisi, a city in the conflict-ridden Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Cultural rites associated with masculinity are further explored in works about bodybuilding and car shows.

Stephanie Barber

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Based in Baltimore, Stephanie Barber is a multi-media artist who works most frequently with film, video, and the written word. She explores the narrative and conceptual dimensions of language, as well as its visual qualities; these are exemplified in the Lawn Poem on view.

Barber has created an installation which considers the historical, philosophical, and spiritual ways humans grapple with the concept of “nature.” Encapsulated in the idea of nature are divisions and hierarchies between the domesticated and wild that might also be applied to power dynamics in human relationships. Barber states: “a desire to clearly communicate complex ideas, through humor, inquiry, pathos, and unexpected juxtapositions is at the core of much of my writing and film work.”

Visitors are invited to peer through viewfinders or place a quarter in a vending machine to purchase an idea.

Darcie Book

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Darcie Book’s work blurs boundaries between painting and sculpture. Rather than a series of brushstrokes, her wallbased work includes passages of poured, folded, and draped paint that have a strong three-dimensional quality. Although these carefully built-up layers of paint are already dry, they still convey the oozing, tactile qualities that artists experience when they squeeze paint from tubes onto their palettes. In other words, Book’s works emphasize the sensation of paint as an inviting material in itself rather than a component of a flat image.

The Baltimore-based artist also creates installations, painstakingly applying gold leaf to walls and then positioning columns enrobed in colors nearby. The vivid surfaces of the columns are reflected in the gold leaf, producing the effect of a painting executed in space rather than on a single plane.

Larry Cook

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Larry Cook, a conceptual artist living in Landover, MD, alters pre-existing text, images, audio, and video in order to illustrate the evolution of racism in America. Using a variety of devices, he captures the attention of visitors and prompts them, whatever their ethnicity, to confront their personal racial biases and the circumstances of contemporary black Americans.

Cook’s video Stockholm Syndrome juxtaposes film footage from several sources. Images of slaves, taken from the TV series Roots (1970) and the movie Twelve Years a Slave (2013) are seen alongside footage of the diverse crowd attending Barack Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech upon his election as the country’s first black president—an event that led to the premature declaration of a post-racial America. The work takes its name from psychological phenomena that cause kidnapping victims to develop empathy for their captors, sometimes even defending them. Some of My Best Friends are Black, realized in white neon, takes issue with the frequently heard defense against the charge of racism or white privilege, and encourages us to reflect on the possibility that despite our best intentions, the subconscious may not be immune to the racial biases perpetuated by the media.

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (Co-founded by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle)

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FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture describes itself as a “creative activist effort to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent.” The organization was founded in 2010 by Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle, community organizers and artists living in Baltimore. The group deploys its messages against sexual violence through public art projects and events, as well as through the Internet and media campaigns. On view is a small portion of FORCE’s The Monument Quilt, a growing compilation of the stories of survivors of sexual violence presented on 8-foot by 8-foot squares of red fabric. In 2017, FORCE seeks to bring 6,000 of these quilt squares (produced in workshops across the country) to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where they will spell out the equally cautionary and consoling phrase “Not Alone.” Accompanying the quilt squares at the BMA is video footage documenting earlier presentations of the quilt. FORCE will also conduct a public awareness program as part of its Sondheim exhibition contribution.

Eric Kruszewski

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Eric Kruszewski, a photographer and filmmaker based in Washington, D.C., has undertaken an in-depth exploration of the pioneering LEAD ministry initiated by Saint Matthew Catholic Church in Baltimore. LEAD (LGBT Educating and Affirming Diversity) supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members of its parish and the broader community. In addition to documenting the work of LEAD’s director, Father Joseph Muth Jr., Kruszewski conducted interviews with a variety of members of the Saint Matthew Community to reveal the varied backgrounds that have led to their participation in LEAD.

Kruszewski presents his footage as a video altarpiece, surrounded by reclaimed pews. The stories of the individuals involved in LEAD are further detailed in videos presented on digital tablets within the church-like installation. The filmmaker has observed that “LEAD offers a safe place for the diverse LGBT community to congregate, share, and find comfort amidst a larger church environment that does not fully accept them.”

Christos Palios

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Christos Palios, a first-generation Greek-American living in Baltimore, photographs both the United States and the country of his ancestors. As long as he can remember, Palios has made regular trips to Greece to spend time with family. While the international media often focuses on the country’s economic and refugee crises, the artist offers layered perspectives on contemporary Greek society.

The concrete structures that appear in Un-Finished // Contemporary Ruins are abandoned construction projects that punctuate today’s Greek landscape. Arranged in a grid, the images call to mind the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, 20th-century photographers renowned for their dispassionate depiction of water towers, grain elevators, and other industrial buildings. Framed against the grey sky, the skeletal structures of Palios’ work are emblematic of Greece’s financial troubles. At the same time, they evoke the celebrated temples of Greek antiquity.

In his still life series Conversations, Palios photographs tabletops at the close of a meal. The remnants are evidence of the time-honored tradition of gathering with family and friends for nutritional and social sustenance. The inclusion of cell phones and smart phones adds a contemporary time-stamp to the still lifes, calling to mind the benefits of global connectivity, as well as the stresses and distractions of 21st-century living.


The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announces the semifinalists for the 11thannual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.  The competition awards a $25,000 fellowship to assist in furthering the career of a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Greater Baltimore region.  For 2016, 39 individual artists have been selected as semifinalists.

Laura Amussen, Parkville, MD

Theo Anthony, Baltimore, MD

Stephanie Barber, Baltimore, MD

Michael Benevenia, Baltimore, MD

Darcie Book, Baltimore, MD

Amy Boone-McCreesh, Baltimore, MD

Dustin Carlson, Baltimore, MD

Vincent Carney, Baltimore, MD

Carolyn Case, Cockeysville, MD

Lynn Cazabon, Baltimore, MD

Julia Celebrado-Royer, Baltimore, MD

Zoë Charlton, Baltimore, MD

Larry Cook, Landover Hills, MD

Erin Curtis, Washington, DC

Lania D’Agostino, Baltimore, MD

Thomas Dahlberg, Baltimore, MD

Adam Davies, Washington, DC

FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, Baltimore, MD

Emily Francisco, Washington, DC

Helen Glazer, Owings Mills, MD

Marian Glebes, Baltimore, MD

Joshua Haycraft, Baltimore, MD

Magali Hebert-Huot, Baltimore, MD

Lillian Hoover, Baltimore, MD

Jason Hughes, Baltimore, MD

Laura Judkis, Baltimore, MD

Andrew Keiper, Baltimore, MD

Eric Kruszewski, Washington, DC

Nate Larson, Baltimore, MD

Jonathan Latiano, Baltimore, MD

Sung Min Lee, Baltimore, MD

Ben Marcin, Baltimore, MD

Gregory McLemore, Baltimore, MD

Kristin Mcwharter, Baltimore, MD

Jonathan Monaghan, Washington, DC

David Page, Baltimore, MD

Christos Palios, Baltimore, MD

George Tkabladze, Manassas, VA

Anna Tsouhlarakis, Washington, DC


The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is excited to announce the 11th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.  Applications are now being accepted for the prestigious competition which awards a$25,000 fellowship to a visual artist or visual artist collaborators living and working in the Baltimore region.  The deadline for submission is Monday, January 4, 2016.  The application is available at   An exhibition of the finalists’ work will be featured in the Thalheimer Galleries of The Baltimore Museum of Art.  An award ceremony and reception takes place Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 7pm at The Baltimore Museum of Art, located at 10 Art Museum Drive.  The prize is held in conjunction with the 35th annual Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival.

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On Tuesday, June 23rd, the Baltimore Museum of Art hosted a Press Preview for the Sondheim Artscape Prize Finalists’ Exhibition, which is on view June 24th to August 9th, 2015. I was lucky enough to attend the Press Preview and get a sneak peak at the exhibition before it opened up to the public, and I am beyond impressed with the tremendous group of artists represented in this exhibition! Click through to see more photos and read my thoughts on the works included in this show.

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