The three Hallie Ford Fellows for 2014 have been announced, congrats. They are; Tannaz Farsi of Eugene, Storm Tharp
and Geraldine Ondrizek of Portland.
True, these panel driven type award decisions are easy to criticize but they do give us an opportunity to provide a heuristic kind of feedback that is necessary, especially since all of these regional awards are so panel driven. On the plus side yes that's 2 women and one man, but it is also two academics and one non (Tharp), which is an underwhelming trend I have mentioned before
as academicians tend to explain their work better than create something more original. Of the three only Tharp is a critical favorite (in fact he's one of the state's premier artists (would make everyone's top 10 list). It is good they are picking artists without gallery representation in Oregon (Farsi and Ondrizek) but that shouldn't = academicians like it has frequently. Oregon has a deeper scene than that.
Overall, the list is a rather hand/craft oriented list when we need to foreground conceptual and new media over the busywork of "making" in a way doesn't look so very belabored (ie making a show of how handmade it is). Farsi probably counts as conceptual but I consider it academic conceptualism, predictably good... but never more than that.
Nobody will question Tharp's inclusion... in fact he single-handedly brings up the esteem of the award. Also, recently, I was very disappointed in the way the Hallie Ford Fellow shows were installed at the MoCC and JSMA venues... more like garage sales than thoughtful presentations of the work (let it breathe with some space or don't show it).
For the second year the panelists have chosen someone who lives in Eugene... which is fine but 3 in a row will look very odd considering a vast majority of the state's artists are centered in the Portland area (not that the rest of the state doesn't have some outstanding artists).
Overall, I give this list a C+... as it is pretty safe, crafty and academic (all of which gives it a whiff of northwest caricaturism though Farsi is refreshingly not your typical white bread Oregonian. It doesn't shake up the status quo at all as all are either academicians or gallery cornerstones (not surprising for an award aimed at mid career artists). Like last year none of the hoard of plucky artists that descended upon Portland in the 1999-2003 era that reshaped expectations for art in Portland (and the state) were chosen.