Exhibition of Art Prize winners opens at Athenaeum


By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

The San Diego Art Prize, funded by San Diego Visual Arts Network, is an annual award given to two established artists, each of whom chooses an emerging artist for the award. Selected works of the 2011 winners, established artists Jay Johnson and Rubén Ortiz-Torres and emerging artists Adam Belt and Tristan Shone, are now on view through May 5 at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

The Art Prize committee, including Patricia Frischer of SDVAN, Ann Berchtold of Art San Diego, art collector Debra Poteet, and Erika Torri, executive director of the Athenaeum, chose the winners from a list of nominees by visual arts professionals and former Art Prize recipients.

At the opening reception March 30, a crowd gathered for a fascinating multi-media encounter with the prize-winners’ work.

Adam Belt’s walk-in installation “A Religious Experience,” offered a contemplative retreat, evoking a quiet sense of wonder with its interplay of light and darkness.

Rubén Ortiz-Torres’s shimmering, heat-sensitive pieces were meant to be touched, giving viewers a chance to add their own short-term handprints to the paintings.

Jay Johnson’s collections of found and fabricated objects were sharply eye-catching.

Tristan Shone’s wall-mounted masks came to vibrant life, showing off their voice-modulating capacities in a musical performance by the artist and sound designer, his pianist and wife, and his acoustic heavy-metal combo.

During the evening, Patricia Frischer announced the 2012 Art Prize winners, jewelry-maker Arline Fisch and sculptor Jeffery Laudenslager. The two will present their choices of emerging artists in June, at Susan Street Gallery in Solana Beach, where all this year’s nominees will have their work on display.