Baker Artist Awards Winners Announced

After four months of voting and more than 8, 500 votes cast by the public, winners of the inaugural Baker Artist Awards were announced on Maryland Public Television and will continue to be viewed by the public through streaming video on the Awards' website today. Musician Carl Grubbs, sculptor John Ruppert and mixed media artist Hadieh Shafie were chosen from over 600 Baltimore area artists by a multi-disciplined jury for the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize. Each artist was awarded $25, 000. In addition, artists Milana Braslavsky, Becky Alprin, Rob Levit, Sarah House, Jim Lucio, Adam Hopkins and Vincent Thomas each received $1, 000 for the Baltimore's Choice prize, as voted by the public through the Baker Awards' website (
More than 650 artists uploaded portfolios to the Baker Artist Awards site

The Baker Artist Awards is the first public art competition of its kind to incorporate public voting through an online forum. Over 600 artists uploaded portfolios of their work onto the awards' website, including works of painting and drawing, sculpture, video and film production and direction, animation, musical composition and performance, photography, spoken and written word, design, and handcraft. More than 35, 000 people from all 50 states and over 118 countries visited the website between November, 2008 and February, 2009.

The Baker Artist Awards were established in 2008 by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund to provide financial support for emerging and well established artists in all disciplines as a way to signify to the regional, national and international community that Baltimore values its artists and rewards their work. The competition was administered by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. "The winning artists truly exemplify the wealth of talent that exists in Baltimore, " said Nancy Haragan, Executive Director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. "The winners of the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize hail originally from Jordan, Iran, and Philadelphia, illustrating that Baltimore is an attractive home for working artists because of its vibrant arts community."

A native of Philadelphia, saxophonist Carl Grubbs, a winner of the $25, 000 Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, studied extensively with jazz legend John Coltrane. He has performed with jazz groups around the world, has recorded seven albums, and is the co-founder of Contemporary Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization that preserves jazz through performance and youth education.

Sculptor John Ruppert explores the way that humans interact with their environment. He has staged over 25 solo exhibitions, and his work has appeared in such places as the Contemporary Art Foundation (Ecovar) in Marseille, France; OMI International Sculpture Park in New York; the Contemporary Museum of Estonia; and the Beijing Today Art Museum in Beijing, China.

Iranian-born artist Hadieh Shafie's work draws on the temporary nature of memory, history and personal reflections related to the Iranian refugee experience. Her works incorporate photography, colored paper, paint, and the written word. Shafie's work has appeared in the Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring; the Abrons Art Center in New York, and Goucher College.

The winners of the Baltimore's Choice prize received the most votes from visitors to the awards' website. Visitors from around the world could register, create a profile, and vote for their favorite artists.

An exhibition of the winners of the Baker Artist Awards will be on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art from April 29 through June 28, 2009. The portfolio of all participating artists will remain on the Baker Artist Awards' website.

Mary Sawyers Baker established the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund in 1964 to honor her husband, a founding partner in Baker Watts, a Baltimore investment banking firm. In 2007, the Fund narrowed its philanthropic mission to focus on arts and culture. In 2008, the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund established the to honor the contributions of individual artists in the Baltimore region.

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance creates a cohesive cultural community that strengthens the livability and economic vitality of the Greater Baltimore region. The non-profit organization serves arts organizations, coalitions and individual artists by being a unifying voice and bridge-builder, acting as a convener, and providing information and services

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