Artists and art appreciators filled Mahon Hall on Saturday night as winners of a hefty bouquet of Salt Spring National Art Prize awards were announced.
Taking away the biggest prize of the event was Luther Konadu from Winnipeg. The jurors chose his Figure as Index photograph as the winner of the Joan McConnell Award of $15,000 in cash and a residency on Salt Spring worth $5,000.
Konadu was not at the event to receive the honour in person, but the artist who won the prize in 2017 was on hand to accept it and speak about its impact on her life.
Judy Anderson said winning SSNAP helped her become a tenured faculty member at the University of Calgary and gave her a huge amount of press so that people started to know her name and would even say, “Oh, you’re THAT Judy Anderson . . . It’s a wonderful thing that has done a lot for me and I know Luther is going to be incredibly happy to be the first-place winner, and it’s a beautiful piece and well deserved.”
“It caught me off guard,” said Konadu about the win. “It never crossed my mind that it could be me out of the 50-plus finalists. I knew I couldn’t attend and I thought there was a lot of great work being shown so, I didn’t even bother having any hopes of winning.”
Konadu is a recent graduate of the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.
The finalists exhibition featured 50 artworks from artists located across Canada, including five from Salt Spring.
Using a blind jury process, jurors David Balzer, Sandra Meigs and Cheyanne Turions chose finalists from a field of 1,973 entries from 1,201 artists based on an image of the submitted artwork and a statement. Konadu’s winning piece and their individual picks were made after seeing the works on exhibit at the hall.
Jurors’ Choice Award winners, who each received $3,000, were Audie Murray of Victoria for her “hambone, Metis billy stick” photograph (Balzer), Kaley Flowers of Toronto for her <esc><esc> sculpture (Meigs) and Skawennati of Montreal for her Intergalactic Empowerment Wampum Belt (Xenomorph, Onkwehón:we, Na’vi, Twi’lek, E.T.) (Turions).
They also offered two honourable mentions: Violet Costello from Calgary for Germaine, and Anna Torma from Baie Verte for Blue Cars.
SSNAP founding director Ron Crawford shared the impact of the event in its three biennial incarnations. Since 2015, SSNAP has exhibited work by 150 different artists, given out $94,000 in prize money and sold close to $100,000 worth of work.
“Nothing makes me happier than to get money into the artists’ pockets so they are paid for the amazing work that they do,” he told the crowd.
Some 3,230 artists from all provinces and territories have submitted 5,496 works for consideration to SSNAP over its three years.
“Artists don’t do this kind of work for money, although I will mention that all of the work is for sale,” Crawford added. “This is about the opportunity to express their vision and their integrity and their efforts and their skill, and I think that’s very important, so in the true sense artists are gifting us this work and [having created this event], we as a community are gifting back to the artists the opportunity to do this, and I think that is the key to the exhibition.”
The Rosemaria Behncke People’s Choice winners based on ballots submitted by exhibit visitors were Tony Luciani from Durham, Ont. for his Port-Kent painting (earning a $3,000 award), Steven Volpe from Orangeville, Ont. for his Winter Gathering painting ($2,000), and Tim Alfred of Port Hardy for his Blue Moon Mask ($1,000). A separate tallying of votes by people aged 18 and under gave the Youth People’s Choice Award to Erika Dueck of St. Pierre, Man. for the multimedia piece called The Sanctuary.
Carol Narod won the Salt Spring Artists Award for her Married and Single fabric arts piece.
The Salt Spring Painters Guild Award of $1,000 for outstanding two-dimensional painted artwork went to Atefeh Baradaran of Vancouver for her Untitled (Hinged Take Off) painting.
AWARDS FROM OTHER SSNAP-RELATED EXHIBITS
Awards from the Parallel Art Show held at ArtSpring and the SSNAP Youth Exhibit at the Salt Spring Gallery were also given out on Saturday night at Mahon Hall.
Viewers’ Choice Awards from the Parallel Art Show of work by Gulf Islands artists, sponsored by Michael Whitfield, were Jim Holyoak (first, $800), Karin Millson (second, $550) and Donna Hall (third, $300).
Both jurors and people’s choice awards were part of the inaugural youth show.
Sam Holmes won first place from the jurors for his sculpture The Ram, and third place in the people’s choice category.
Second-place jurors choice winner was Mac Flett for The Angry Anarchist, and Rose Hermann’s Work in Progress was the third-place jurors winner.
First-place people’s choice winner was Ruby Egger-Lipsett for her painting called Nouveau, while Anju Otsu’s Eye-land pencil drawing earned the second-place people’s choice award.