Artists Jillian Conrad and Carl Suddath walked away with top prizes worth $15,000 each, while Francesca Fuchs, Seth Mittag and Jang soon Im all received $5,000 awards. Also honored were the five remaining shortlisted finalists Michael Bise, Bill Davenport, Rosine Kouamen, Linda Post and Kaneem Smith.
"It's wonderful to be recognized amongst a group of artists I know and respect so much," Conrad tells CultureMap. "It makes being singled out mean all the more to me, while being a little bittersweet too. I know how hard everyone works and how hard we struggle."
"It's wonderful to be recognized amongst a group of artists I know and respect so much."
A panel of three judges — Menil curator Michelle White, curator Naima Keith from the Studio Museum Harlem and Patrick Charpenel of the Mexico City's Jumex Foundation — spent Tuesday and Wednesday circling Houston conducting 45-minute studio visits with each of the 10 finalists.
"We were focused on how artists were engaging in a larger contemporary art dialogue," White says during panel discussion following the announcement. "I have to say that every one of these nominees could've made the top two positions.
"It was a really hard decision because I was in awe of every artist we talked to in the studio."
While most art world grant money is doled out for specific projects, Artadia prides itself as being one of the few national organizations to offer unrestricted cash awards that allow artists to use their funds for anything ranging from supplies and studio space to travel and living costs.
"The history of grant-writing has created a type of artist that has to make certain projects that can get funded . . . and, I'll be honest, I've never been that artist," laughs Houston artist David Aylsworth, one of three former Artadia recipients on the panel. "To receive a grant that's unrestricted was so important to me in that it supported my regular studio practice rather than specific project."
Once an artist receives an Artadia Award, the nonprofit foundation promises lifetime support from its extensive network of art affiliates.
"What's so amazing about Artadia is that it allows artists to keep working in Houston," White says. "They can sustain their practice here while still having a chance to have a more national and international profile in the art world."
The Texas Contemporary Art Fair runs through Sunday at the George R. Brown.