Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize

  • Force: Upsetting Rape Culture

    2016 Sondheim Artscape Prize winner

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announces the finalists for the 12th annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.  The finalists are Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Anne Arntzen, Cindy Cheng, Sara Dittrich, Benjamin Kelley, Kyle Tata and Amy Yee.  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. The prize also gives artists an opportunity to exhibit their work at The Walters Art Museum. M&T Charitable Foundation provides a $2,500 honorarium for each of the remaining finalists not selected for the fellowship.  The Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is held in conjunction with the annual Artscape juried exhibition and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts in partnership with The Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The competition winner is announced during an award ceremony and reception on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 7pm at The Walters Art Museum, located at 600 North Charles Street.

The finalists’ works of art will be exhibited at The Walters Art Museum from Saturday, June 17 through Sunday, August 13, 2017. The winner is selected from the exhibition after review of the installed art and an interview with each finalist by the jurors. Jurors for 2017 are Curator at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City Ruba Katrib, New York-based contemporary artist Clifford Owens, and Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Nat Trotman. 

Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize Timeline 
Finalists Exhibition at the Walters Art Museum: Saturday, June 17-Sunday, August 13, 2017
Award announcement: Saturday, July 15, 2017, 7pm (Galleries open at 6pm)
Semifinalist Exhibition at MICA: Friday, July 21-Sunday, August 6, 2017
Semifinalist Exhibition opening reception: Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6-9pm
Artscape: Friday, July 21- Sunday, July 23, 2017

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 2017 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize is made possible through the generous support of the 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.

2017 Finalists

Mequitta Ahuja (Baltimore, MD) makes large, figurative paintings that reference her African-American and East Indian background. Ahuja has an extensive exhibition history that includes exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery (London, UK, 2015), the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD, 2015), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN, 2014), the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR, 2014),  The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY, 2012, 2011, 2010), the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC, 2012, 2009), The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 2008), The Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY, 2007), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Chicago, IL, 2005). Ahuja has participated in artist-in-residence programs at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX), the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD), the Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY), the Siena Art Institute (Siena, Italy) and at the Dora Maar House (Menerbes, France). Ahuja’s work has appeared in the publication Modern Painters, and in 2010, she was featured in ArtNews as “An Artist to Watch.” Ahuja received her Masters of Fine Art from the University of Illinois in 2003, and her Bachelors of Art from Hampshire College in 1998.  Ahuja was a finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize in 2015.

Mary Anne Arntzen (Baltimore, MD) is a painter whose work explores interactions between non-representational forms. Her work has been shown locally and nationally, including a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art Baltimore (Baltimore, MD, 2013), as well as group exhibitions at Hillyer Art Space (Washington, DC, 2015), Arizona State University Art Gallery (Tempe, AZ, 2015), Salisbury University Gallery (Salisbury, MD, 2014), and School 33 Art Center (Baltimore, MD, 2012). She has completed residencies at the Wassaic Project (Anemia, New York), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild (Woodstock, NY). Arntzen teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, George Washington University, and the Community College of Baltimore County.  She is also a member of the Institute of Contemporary Art Baltimore advisory board, and in 2016 she was awarded the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award in painting.

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.

Sara Dittrich (Baltimore, MD) is an interdisciplinary artist creating objects, installations, and performances that investigate and amplify the dynamic rhythms of the body, and the interconnected patterns that reside in everyday life. Dittrich received her Bachelors of Fine Art in interdisciplinary sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014, and has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions including solo shows at the Washington Project for the Arts (Washington, DC, 2017) and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (Grand Rapids, MI, 2015). She has also exhibited her work internationally at KIV Gallery (Prague, Czech Republic, 2014) while studying sculpture at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. In 2013, Dittrich was awarded the Beers Contemporary Award for Emerging Art and has completed residencies at Sculpture Space (Utica, NY), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE).

Benjamin Kelley (Baltimore, MD), is a 2010 Masters of Fine Art graduate of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Driven by the smell of oak, the cult of commodity, and the elegance of precision, Kelley re-contextualizes found objects with altered and fabricated structures. His works have been exhibited locally and nationally, including solo exhibitions in the Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts (a project of the Institute of Contemporary Art Baltimore) (Philadelphia, PA, 2016), CONNERSMITH. (Washington, DC, 2013), Open Space (Baltimore, MD, 2011), Patti and Rusty Rueff Gallery at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN, 2009), among others. This work has also been featured in several group exhibitions, including those at the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD, 2015), the Katzen Arts Center at American University (Washington, DC, 2014), the Contemporary Museum (Baltimore, MD, 2012), Maryland Art Place (Baltimore, MD, 2011, 2010), Gallery Four (Baltimore, MD, 2010), and the Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD, 2009). Kelley has been awarded the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship (Richmond, VA) and the GoGo Emerging Artist Projects of CONNERSMITH., (Washington, DC). His work has also been featured in publications such as the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and the Baltimore City Paper.  Kelley was also a finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize in 2015.

Kyle Tata (Baltimore, MD) is a native of Baltimore City and a 2012 Bachelors of Fine Arts graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. His work primarily uses photography, printmaking, and artist books to explore the themes of history, design and architecture. Tata has an extensive local and regional exhibition history, including exhibitions at  the Hamiltonian Gallery (Washington, DC, 2016, 2015), Area 405 (Baltimore, MD 2016), Spudnik Press & Gallery (Chicago, IL, 2014), Silvermine Arts Center (New Canaan, CT, 2014), Current Space (Baltimore, MD, 2013), the International Print Center (New York, NY, 2013), Furthermore Gallery (Washington, DC, 2013), and Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (Philadelphia, PA, 2013). His artist books are held in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), The International Center for Photography (New York, NY) and the Indie Photobook Library (Washington, DC). Tata is currently in the fellowship program at the Hamiltonian Gallery, and since 2013, has been an arts instructor at the Baltimore School for the Arts. In 2014, Tata was also a finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize.

Amy Yee (Baltimore, MD), explores the intersection of popular culture, simulacra, and professional sports through her work in 3D installation, photography, and video. She is a 2015 Masters of Fine Art graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Rinehart School of Sculpture, where she was the recipient of the Amalie Rothschild Award, and a 2011 Bachelors of Art graduate of Smith College. Her work has been exhibited locally at Current Space (Baltimore, MD, 2017), School 33 Art Center (Baltimore, MD, 2016) and Terrault Contemporary (Baltimore, MD, 2015). Yee has been featured nationally in exhibitions at the Diego Rivera Gallery at San Francisco Art Institute (San Francisco, CA, 2012), Crane Arts’ Icebox Project Space (Philadelphia, PA, 2016) and Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA, 2015).  Yee was also awarded an artist residency in 2015 at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE).

2016 Winner

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) are proud to announce that FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture is the winner of the 2016 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize. The coveted $25,000 prize was presented at this evening’s awards ceremony at The Baltimore Museum of Art. The six other finalists—Theo Anthony, Stephanie Barber, Darcie Book, Larry Cook,  Eric Kruszewski, Christos Palios—will receive a $2,500 honorarium established this year by M&T Bank in partnership with BOPA.  Works of art by the winner and finalists are on view at the BMA through Sunday, July 31.

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.

The Sondheim Artscape Prize: 2016 Finalists 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. It is 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.  This year’s jurors are: Tim Griffin, Executive Director and Chief Curator at The Kitchen; Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum; and Mia Locks, Co-Curator of The Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2017 Whitney Biennial.


More Information

For more information on the Sondheim Artscape Prize, visit artscape.org.