The cool thing about the big national awards that just descend on people – like the MacArthur Foundation’s half-million-dollar so-called “genius” awards – is the way in which they describe what’s best about those working in a certain field. The MacArthurs, like Guggenheims and Pollack/Krasner awards, have a tendency to land on Hudson Valley artists with some regularity. Now the new USA Fellows – given by the relatively new US Artists independent nonprofit and nongovernmental philanthropic organization to support living Americans, and funded since its 2005 founding by the Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmuson Foundations – are similarly highlighting local artists, even though the whole kit-and-kaboodle is based in LA.
Amongst the 2012 fellows, each getting $50,000 in cash awards, are Stone Ridge-based metal artist and teacher Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, noted jazz drummer and composer Jack DeJohnette of Willow and documentary and animation filmmaker Jacqueline Goss of Tivoli. The three join previous regionally based fellows such as Carolee Schneemann of New Paltz, artist Glenn Ligon of Hudson, screenwriter and director Kelly Reichardt of Bard College, musician Don Byron of Woodstock.
“To be considered for a grant, an artist must first be nominated by at least one of a group of ‘nominators’ chosen by the organization,” read the awards’ guidelines. “This is an anonymous group of arts scholars, critics and artists from various disciplines; they operate independently of one another. The nominators submit names of artists they believe should be considered for an award.”
USA Fellows include artists in the fields of architecture and design crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media arts, music, theater arts and visual arts. Over the past seven years, USA has put $17.5 million directly into the hands of “America’s most innovative artists, many of whom, despite their achievements, still struggle to make ends meet.”
For further information, visit www.usaforart.org.