A Texas Prize, Big Time!

Arthouse launches a major new award for the state's artists

A Texas Prize, Big Time!

In art, it seems, as in all other aspects of life, everything is bigger in Texas. As announced this week, the statewide visual arts organization Arthouse is establishing a new biennial award for an artist living or working in the Lone Star State, and with it comes a cash prize of, get this, $30,000. Not quite a lottery jackpot, true, but in the art world, where such prizes are more likely to be in the $1,000-10,000 range, it's enough to rank this new award – christened simply the Arthouse Texas Prize – among the largest in the land. That alone gives this honor the potential to garner substantial national and international attention for the state's art scene. But it's coupled with a selection process that should encourage curators, patrons, and the media outside Texas to view this as more than a competition for moderately talented regional artists. It'll be the place that names the next Rauschenberg.

Knowledgeable art professionals from around the state will submit nominations of Texas-based artists who have produced a significant body of contemporary work in the past two years. From this pool, three finalists will be selected by a seven-member jury of prominent artists and curators, including Texas-born critic (and former Austinite) Dave Hickey, Fort Worth artist Vernon Fisher, and curators from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The finalists will have their work exhibited, then the recipient of the prize will be announced at Arthouse's annual gala in November 2005.

Arthouse has more than 90 years invested in promoting the visual arts in Texas – you may remember that for most of that time it was known as the Texas Fine Arts Association – and as it closes in on its 100th, the organization wants to kick things up a notch. Executive Director Sue Graze reports that the organization is ready to finish out the organization's headquarters at 700 Congress – adding more exhibition space, artists' studios for a planned artist-in-residence program, a film and video viewing room, lecture space, and, for the roof, a flexible space for art projects or programs. With all this and the Texas Prize in place, Arthouse's centenary should see the state's artists hitting the big time big-time. end story

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Texas visual arts, Arthouse, Sue Graze, Dave Hickey, Vernon Fisher, Hammer Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

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