Submitted by Tacoma Art Museum
The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today, the exhibition resulting from the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, will open at Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The exhibition features 43 innovative works in the art of portrayal including paintings, sculpture, drawings, photographs, and mixed-media installations. The dazzling variety of media and diverse approaches to exploring “self” and “other” will challenge preconceived notions of portraiture and expand visitors’ imaginations. The exhibition will be on view through Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2017.
The Outwin 2016 has been one of the Portrait Gallery’s most popular shows, drawing more than 900,000 visitors to their Washington, D.C. galleries. The exhibition features finalists from the competition’s fourth iteration. More than 2,500 artists from across the United States submitted entries. The Outwin 2016’s appearance at Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) presents a rare opportunity for art lovers as this is the first time that the show has traveled beyond the Portrait Gallery. TAM will be the first stop on the national tour and the only West Coast location.
“The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today showcases national conversations from the past three years,” said Kim Sajet, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, who will speak at TAM’s Members’ Opening Celebration on the evening of February 4. “These works not only are geographically diverse, they also reflect discussions around gender, race, poverty, healthcare, at-risk youth, migration and the power of family.”
The exhibition includes both English and Spanish gallery labels. Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite portrait, and watch a video featuring interviews with the top prize-winning artists and guest jurors. An exhibition catalogue illustrating each of the 43 finalists’ works will be available in the TAM Store for $14.95. Special events mark the opening day including a Curator Conversation at 3 pm with Dorothy Moss, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery. Moss will talk about the competition’s history, and how the six judges went about selecting finalists from the thousands of entries. During the run of the exhibition, visitors can participate in a Portrait Party free community festival, artists talks, free Third Thursday gallery access and activities, and interactive social media opportunities.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Smithsonian’s exhibition to TAM and to the region. It is a great fit for many reasons. Portraiture is one of TAM’s collecting strengths. Portraits carry meaning that everyone can relate to. And it is a significant area of practice for many Northwest artists,” said Stephanie Stebich, Executive Director at TAM. “The Outwin 2016 brings a selection of the most exceptional and exciting works in portraiture from across our country. These portraits tell stories of national concerns that resonate in Tacoma, too. We look forward to sharing it with everyone.”
Noted guest jurors for the competition included Dawoud Bey, professor of art and a Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College in Chicago; Helen Molesworth, chief curator at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Jerry Saltz, senior art critic at New York magazine; and John Valadez, a Los Angeles–based realist painter and muralist. Portrait Gallery staff on the jury were Brandon Brame Fortune, chief curator, and Dorothy Moss, associate curator of painting and sculpture and competition director. The jurors considered this exhibition a synopsis of historical and cultural events that have unfolded in the past three years (since the previous competition).
First prize went to artist Amy Sherald of Baltimore, MD, for an oil on canvas titled Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance). Sherald received $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection. Second prize was awarded to Cynthia Henebry of Richmond, VA, for her inkjet print titled Mavis in the backseat, and third prize to Joel Daniel Phillips of Oakland, CA, for his charcoal-and-graphite drawing Eugene #4. Commended artists include Jess T. Dugan for her self-portrait photograph; Jessica Todd Harper for her pigment print photograph Becky, June, Jessica, and Mary; Sedrick Huckaby for his self-portrait painting Sedrick, Sed, Daddy; and Daniel James McInnis for his inkjet print Heidi and Lily, Ohio 2014. Each of these artists was awarded a cash prize. A full list of artists whose works were selected for the exhibition follows at the end of this release.
Juror Dawoud Bey has local links. University of Washington at Tacoma (UWT) commissioned Bey to create a series of 12 photographic portraits during an artist residency in 2013 as part of his project, Strangers/Community. Bey paired people who’d never met but who were part of the UWT community, posing them for portraits with interesting results. Tacoma Art Museum was one of the sites where he photographed the portraits. Bey’s resulting works are now on view at the Snoqualmie Library on the UWT campus. Also of local note, artist Evan Baden from Oregon has a work in the exhibition; the portrait Florence and Daniel is part of his series for The Taradiddle High School Yearbook Project. Baden is an instructor at Oregon State University and his work is held in museums in the US and abroad.
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is made possible by a gift from National Portrait Gallery volunteer and benefactor Virginia Outwin Boochever (1920–2005). Boochever was passionate about the transformative power of portraiture–one of the most beloved and timeless art forms. It was her fondest wish to endow the museum with the capacity to run a triennial competition for contemporary portraiture. Share her enthusiasm and see her legacy in this exhibition at TAM.