On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the announcement of the Sondheim Prize. In its fifth year, the Sondheim Prize is a $25,000 award to a visual artists living and working in the region. The finalists are awarded an exhibition at the BMA, and one special winner selected by a jury of three, takes home the major prize. This year’s crew was a talented bunch (read Kara Ober’s take from the Urbanite, Doreen Bolger’s in her blog, or City Paper’s feature in last Wednesday’s edition for real, in-depth coverage), as is every year’s, and it was Ryan Hackett who took the cake. See the BMA’s Flickr stream here.
The exhibition at the BMA runs until August 1, so make sure to take the time to go see some of Baltimore’s best visual artists. The importance of this award cannot be trumpeted enough. This prize, along with the $80,000 in prizes awarded to artists in the Baker Artist Awards, send a major signal: Baltimore, and the funding community in Baltimore, appreciate and award the talents, hard work, and dedication of its local artists. It’s an amazing thing.
The Sondheim Prize, named after Walter and Janet Sondehim, is run by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA), and the award serves as a kick-off for what is arguably the biggest weekend of arts in Baltimore–Artscape! If you have lived in Baltimore, then you know all about Artscape. Typically falling on the hottest weekend of the year (right now this weekend, according to weather.com, is in the 89-96 degree range), Artscape is “America’s largest free arts festival”. It’s a weekend jam packed with art of every shape, size, and variety, and over 350,000 people attend. The economic impact of the weekend is astounding with almost $26 million in 2009. BOPA does an amazing job with the festival–they are one of Baltimore’s great assets–organizing everything from the BGP to the St. Patty’s Day Parade to the lighting of the Monument in Mt. Vernon each December.
Artscape is not to be missed, and runs this weekend, August 16-18, in Baltimore.
And this year’s logo: