Grimm, Bisson get Pollock-Krasner awards

Calvin Grimm (photo by Dion Ogust)

Calvin Grimm (photo by Dion Ogust)

A few weeks back it was the abstract painter Calvin Grimm who was all smiles. Yes, his solo show at the Woodstock Arts Association & Museum was going well and he’d just been on the front page of this paper. But what was really turning him on was that he’d just gotten a letter announcing his receipt of a coveted Pollock-Krasner grant.

A few days later landscape collage painter Mariella Bisson was found painting a cool waterfall on a hot afternoon up in the Peekamoose area. She, too, was beaming at the news that she had also gotten a Pollock Krasner, her second in a decade (and third altogether).

At a garden party in Woodstock this past weekend, Pollock Krasner Foundation Executive VP Kerrie Buitrago talked about how many Woodstockers, and others in the Hudson Valley, were receiving the international grants, as well as how important it was for all artists to realize how critical they could be to serious artist’s careers, while moving one’s work to new levels.


“The Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s mission is to aid, internationally, those individuals who have worked as artists over a significant period of time. The Foundation’s dual criteria for grants are recognizable artistic merit and financial need, whether professional, personal or both,” reads the mission statement of the foundation, established in 1985 at the bequest of Lee Krasner, the widow of her fellow painter Jackson Pollock, who left approximately $23 million in cash, securities and art for future grants after her death.

The way the foundation works, applications from visual artists who are painters, sculptors and artists who work on paper, including printmakers and those who use photography as one of several mixed media, can apply online at any point; there are no deadlines. Applicant’s financial needs are taken into account, including catastrophic situations, and grant funds are expected to last a year. The size of grants, which Buitrago likes to keep confidential, is determined by the individual circumstances of the artist. Artists must be actively exhibiting their current work in professional artistic venues, such as gallery and museum spaces.

Overall, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, gave out 116 grants totaling $2,163,000 in the past fiscal year, ended in June. Others in the region who received grants in this period included Donald Elder, Lisbeth Firmin of New Kingston, and Jason Middleburgh of Columbia County.

Past recipients of Pollock Krasner grants have included a wealth of the region’s career artists, many of whom have been allowed to grow their work to its present status with the help of the Krasner funds. Included over the past 30 years have been Judy Abbott, Doug Alderfer, Tricia Cline, Vincent Connolly, Mary Frank, Charles Frazier, Heather Hutchison, Tatana Kellner, Anthony Krauss, Nicholas Maffei, Norm Magnusson, Henrietta Mantooth, Pia Oste-Alexander, Carolee Schneemann, Richard Segalman, Keiko Sono, Melinda Stickney-Gibson, Susan Togut, and Reinhard Voigt. Plus all those artists who spend time here but keep their main address elsewhere.

The foundation also hands out Lee Krasner Awards that are given in recognition of a lifetime of artistic achievement, which aren’t applied for but nominated. Among those recipents, on a local basis, are the late Nicolas Carone, Mary Frank, and Raquel Rabinovich.

All recipients of both grants readily acknowledge the grants’ ability to help them focus on work, and push what they do to new levels…often over several years’ worth of aid. Most recently, Bisson, Elder and Grimm each seemed somewhat abashed at their luck at getting Pollock-Krasners. Their focus on their art attested, furthermore, to all such grants’ underlying mission to help push the art, as well as its makers, forward.

Which is how civilization grows, Buitrago agreed during that recent garden party conversation.

“I am not an artist but I love being able to help artists do what they do so well,” she admitted. “It’s a benefit to all of us.”

She urged all with an interest in the Pollock Krasner Foundation and its grants to seek further information by calling 212-517-5400 or visiting