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Finalists selected for the 2016 Betty Bowen Award
Dawn Cerny, Mantel Totem (no history all pharmaceuticals), 2015, etching, silkscreen, flocking, wood, aqua resin, and fiberglass, 21 x 18 x 17 in., Courtesy of the artist ©Dawn Cerny. Photo courtesy Dawn Cerny.

SEATTLE, WA.- The Seattle Art Museum and the Betty Bowen Committee, chaired by Gary Glant, announced today the five artists selected as finalists for this year’s Betty Bowen Award. The juried award honors a Northwest artist for their original, exceptional, and compelling work. Administered by SAM, the award was created in 1977 by friends of Washington native and supporter of Northwest artists, Betty Bowen (1918–1977).

The Betty Bowen Committee—comprising Northwest curators, collectors, and former Betty Bowen Award winners—reviewed 446 applications from visual artists residing in the Pacific Northwest. One of this year’s finalists will receive an unrestricted cash award in the amount of $15,000 and will have their work displayed at the Seattle Art Museum beginning November 10. At the discretion of the Betty Bowen Committee, up to two Special Recognition Awards in the amount of $2,500 may be granted.

Exceeding previous years, almost half of the applicants this year—including two of the finalists—were first-time applicants. The award is open to all visual artists residing in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Artists of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The winner is selected in a two-part jury process. In the first round, the applicants are reviewed anonymously. Over the course of two days, five or six finalists are selected from the pool of applicants. The finalists are then invited to present their work to the committee in person during the second round.

The winner of the 38th Annual Betty Bowen Award will be announced in a press release in September. The award will be formally presented in a celebration at the Seattle Art Museum on November 10, which will also inaugurate the exhibition of the winning artist’s work. The event will be free and open to the public.


Evan Baden – Albany, OR

Photographer Evan Baden’s work examines the fictions, exaggerations, and lies constructed by photographs posted on social media. For the young people who navigate this relatively new environment, reality is indelibly blended with these half-truths. Baden’s series The ­_____ High School Yearbook Project focuses on a consistent group of teens in photographs that appear to be real documents of high school—but their school, activities, and the connections between them are all works of fiction.

Dawn Cerny – Seattle, WA
Working in a wide array of mediums including printmaking, collage, and sculpture, Dawn Cerny is interested in the placement of objects as visual evidence of cultural and behavioral value systems, especially in the context of the home. In her recent work, Cerny is increasingly exploring strategies to present objects informally, relating an understanding of art as something lived within daily life.

Mark Mitchell – Seattle, WA
Mark Mitchell works in hand-sewn textiles to examine issues of ceremony, tribute, and mourning, often using the tropes of funeral traditions. In his recent body of work, Burial, Mitchell explored these ideas through a series of intricate burial garments. His current project, Burial 2, tackles issues of mass incarceration, prison reform, and the racial disparity of the prison system—imbuing mourning with an activist intention.

Wendy Red Star – Portland, OR
Wendy Red Star’s work addresses the intersections of traditional Native American culture and colonialist structures and imagery. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star works in a wide variety of mediums including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance, and makes use of extensive archival research and historical narratives to address issues both historical and contemporary.

Sadie Wechsler – Seattle, WA
Sadie Wechsler explores the limits of photography as a medium, creating images that blur the line between the real and the fantastical. By introducing unexpected features such as collage and reflection, she transforms the once flat and steady picture plane into something fluid and three-dimensional. In her current body of work, Wechsler is turning her focus to the Arctic Circle in an exploration of the region’s histories of exploitation, survival, destruction, desire, and its unstable future as climate temperatures rise.

Gary Glant (Chair; SAM Trustee), Mark Calderon, Luis Croquer, Victoria Haven, Mike Hess, Sonal Khullar, Isaac Layman, Mark Levine, Catharina Manchanda (SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art), Llewelyn Pritchard, Greg Robinson, Norie Sato, Bill True, Maggie Walker (SAM Trustee), Dan Webb, Merrill Wright

Honorary Members:
Jeffrey Bishop, Peggy Golberg

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Finalists selected for the 2016 Betty Bowen Award

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