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Meet The Recipients Of The 2020 Herb Alpert Award In The Arts

Meet The Recipients Of The 2020 Herb Alpert Award In The Arts

Published on May 25, 2020
Karen Sherman, winner in the Herb Alpert Awards for Dance.

The 5 Categories include Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre & Visual Arts

“I’ve always loved the artists that travel the road less traveled…those are the artists that touch me.”— Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert © 2020 Concord

Santa Monica, Calif. (May 22, 2020) - The Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) have awarded the 2020 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (HAAIA) to five exceptional mid–career artists. Now in its 26th year, the annual award provides five unrestricted $75,000 grants to independent artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and visual arts. The recipients will be honored at a virtual ceremony hosted by Herb Alpert, his wife Lani Hall Alpert and the Herb Alpert Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2020.

SKY HOPINKA - Film/Video
FIRELEI BAEZ - Visual Arts

The awards are adjudicated by three-member panels of noted artists - including many past winners - and arts professionals in each of the five categories. The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts was conceived by music legend Herb Alpert and his wife, Grammy-winning vocalist Lani Hall Alpert to reward creative experimenters who are challenging and transforming art, their respective disciplines, and society. In addition, the awards provide vital financial support to each artist at a key juncture in his or her creative development.

Among the 125 past winners of the Award are artists - Carrie Mae Weems, Vijay Iyer, Taylor Mac, Arthur Jafa, Suzan-Lori Parks, Julia Wolfe, Meshell Ndegeocello, Michelle Dorrance, Tania Bruguera, Kerry James Marshall, Lisa Kron, Okwui Okpokwasili, Sharon Lockhart, Ralph Lemon, and Cai Guo-Qiang.

"We are grateful to be able to celebrate the Herb Alpert Award’s 26th anniversary during this very challenging year, where more than ever the arts are a vital and necessary way of bringing sustenance, meaning and well-being to our world", says Rona Sebastian, Herb Alpert Foundation president. "In recognizing and honoring these five visionary mid-career artists who expand their fields as well as our own horizons, we acknowledge the profound social, cultural and personal impact their work, and the arts overall, has on a civil society...and particularly a civil society in the midst of crisis."

Irene Borger, the founding Director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts notes, “15 extraordinary artistic directors, curators, educators and Herb Alpert Award winners came together, in 5 separate panels, to ask: ‘why support this artist at this moment in their artistic trajectory – and – right now, in the culture? Their decisions?' They matter." The following summaries highlight why the 2020 panelists chose these five extraordinary artists:

"The Dance panel has selected choreographer Karen Sherman for her genuine, transparent, vulnerable work and the ways she summons the real into existence. They value her sensitivity in grappling with issues of equity and inclusion, and how she poetically and wittily brings forth the unseen, taking risks to create a necessary theatre for this time."

luciana achugar - choreographer, Herb Alpert Award Artist, Brooklyn, New York
Nan Friedman - performer/teacher/choreographer, Santa Monica, CA
Donna Uchizono - dance artist, Herb Alpert Award Artist, New York

Jeffrey Wells & Joanna Furnans in Karen Sherman's One With Others. Photo © Karen Sherman.

"The Film/Video panel honors artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka for his remarkable approach to storytelling, at once personal and mythic; for his ability to join the aesthetic and the political, and to engage with questions of ecology and dispossession. They were moved by his visual aesthetic that refuses to objectify people or land, and grounds characters and stories with feeling and soul."

Rizvana Bradley - assistant professor, History of Art, and African-American Studies, Yale University, New Haven
Bruce Jenkins - professor of Film, Video, New Media and Animation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Roya Rastagar - filmmaker and curator, PhD. History of Consciousness, Los Angeles

"The Music panel celebrates trumpeter, composer, producer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah for his originality and artistry, for the inventive ways he decolonizes sound and uses the past to move us forward. His immersive and compelling music makes magic, stretches conventions, has a powerful, visceral impact on listeners, and builds bridges and community."

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Music prizewinner at the 2020 Herb Alpert Awards.

Molly Barth - flutist, professor, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Steve Coleman - saxophonist, composer, band leader, Herb Alpert Award Artist, New York, NY - Allentown, PA
Miya Masaoka - composer, sound artist, Herb Alpert Award Artist, associate professor, director, Sound Art Program, Columbia University, New York

"Theatre-maker Phil Soltanoff was chosen by the Theatre panel for his phenomenally, seriously playful and rich imagination, for the masterful ways he conveys story through silence and physicality, as well as for the beauty, elegance, and timelessness of his innovations. They are relieved that he - “the Real Deal with experimentation in his DNA” – is taking his gifts to the next generation throughout America."

Raelle Myrick Hodges - theater director, creative director, 651 Arts, Brooklyn, New York
Johanna McKeon - director, New York
Diane Rodriguez - director, writer, producer, Rodriguez Projects, Los Angeles

Firelei Baéz, Visual Arts prizewinner at the 2020 Herb Alpert Awards.

"Artist Firelei Baéz was named the Visual Arts prizewinner for the fearless, subversive beauty of her expansive, color-saturated, highly patterned and ornamented paintings, for the immersive and layered visual and kinesthetic experience of her ambitious room-sized and public installations, which both subtly and rigorously interrogate history, transporting us to a powerful future that embodies an alternate past."

Ondine Chavoya - professor of art, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Paul Ha - director, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
Naima Keith - vice-president, Education and Public Programs, LACMA, Los Angeles

Ravi Rajan, president of CalArts adds, “The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts stands as one of the most important gestures of support for the incubation of artists globally, and CalArts is honored to work with the Herb Alpert Foundation in administering this award for 26 years. CalArts is a community of artists whose mission is to transform ourselves, each other, and the world through artistic practice, and the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts is an important part of fulfilling that mission.” Herb Alpert Award recipients are provided with a week-long teaching residency at CalArts which has led to several joining the faculty.

Photo credits: Courtesy of the artists.

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