Betty Bowen (on the right)
selection committee has selected 5 finalists this year, who will now compete for the prize. The 2
Oregonians are Jovencio
de la Paz
. The three others are Jenny Heishman, Sean Johnson, and Matthew Offenbacher.
Though I'm a little suspicious of regional art awards (usually driven by politics
instead of pure artistic strength) I think this list at least does a good job
of highlighting lesser known artists in the region instead of well known critical/institutional
favorites, which was something Bowen
wanted. I predict Sean Johnson, Heishman
or Faught will win but Im rooting for Paz who is the Portland based darkhorse
candidate. Johnson deals in uncertainty so there's an inherent edge to that
work that resonates with these topsey turvey times... but maybe he's too entertaining
Overall, I'd like to see all of the regional art awards matter a bit more by
making very strong statements ... but that isn't exactly what museums do (unless
someone starts a Linda
Award). Typically Museums have trouble on a political level playing
the strongest efforts by the strongest artists in an "all out" contest
(any contest with Alex Schweder and Sean Healy or Storm Tharp etc. would be that contest) because
the curators have a lot of political pressure and no incentives to really stick
their necks out like that (hence the committees). Instead, museums (quite logically) try to even things
out as a display of their intervening authority. It's fine but it makes art
in the region
look softer than it is. Instead, I've noticed regional artists
often do stronger work nationally outside the regional awards shows.
My vote goes to Jovencio. Good luck!
Politics in the art scene is an interesting topic. I don't know if the regional art contest is the a worthy suspect simply because it is smaller than a nation wide campaign. Some stories on this avoided subject could be intriguing.
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