The Dog and Pony Show: A Sondheim Finalist Alumni Exhibition at Area 405

Photos by Cara Ober and Thea Harvey-Brown

What happens after the prize is awarded?  After twelve years, after the museum show, the public competition, and a $25k prize doled out, it’s worth considering: What impact has the Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize had on the arts in Baltimore? What is the most significant outcome or accomplishment of this top prize? Who or what should be our takeaway after Artscape season is over?

Our answer: the artists.

The Sondheim Prize has generated an elite group, an alumni of visual art finalists from the Baltimore / Washington region. Each year, esteemed international jurors select 6-7 finalists for a museum exhibition and the chance to compete for the $25k prize, but after the hug from the mayor, who admits she has no idea what any of the art is about, and the announcement of a name, the relationships and the network end.

At this point there are approximately seventy former Sondheim finalists. As a regional art critic, in conversation with a former finalist herself (Stewart Watson) who directs an art space, we asked ourselves what, if anything, these former finalists share? And what did they learn after their time under the hot spotlights?

The Dog and Pony Show was conceived as an Artscape Satellite exhibition that recognizes those who have been previously selected as Sondheim finalists as a community of high achieving visual artists with a unique story to tell. Whether they bear a collective sense of PTSD, or achieved career momentum through the recognition of this award, we wanted to ask former Sondheim finalists to create works that specifically commented on their experience.

For the exhibit at Area 405, curators Stewart Watson, Director of Area 405, and Cara Ober, Editor of BmoreArt, reached out to all seventy former Sondheim Finalists and invited them, to the best of their ability, to participate. The result was an exhibit featuring over a third of the former finalists designed to celebrate the award and their evolving careers.

Although the title of the exhibit is a tongue-in-cheek response to the spectacle of competitive art, the exhibit will function as a celebration, as well as a critique, of Baltimore’s most prestigious art prize from the perspective of those who have experienced it directly.

Participating artists have been encouraged to create new works in response to the phenomenon of art prizes, both the positive and negative aspects of the experience, and can function as a critique of the artifice inherent in theatrical display. Using serious and humorous approach, as well as metaphorical imagery of dogs, ponies, and stage acts, the artists in this exhibit will honestly examine the vulnerability of artists, definitions of success in the art world, and performative public experiences. As Area 405 is a large space with inherent personality, large installation work and sculpture forms the centerpiece of the show.

The goal of the Dog and Pony Show was and still is to build community and advocacy within a growing family of Sondheim Finalists, to recognize their achievements and struggles, and to visualize the long-term impact of this prize upon the careers of regionally based artists.

Participating artists include: Chris Lavoie, Chris Palios, Laure Drogoul, Darcie Book, David Page, Frank Day, Hasan Elahi, Jon Duff, Jason Hughes, Jim Leach, Karen Yazinsky, Lauren Frances Adams, Lisa Dillin, Leah Cooper, Magnolia Laurie, Mark Parascandola, Melissa Dickenson, Molly Springfield, Neil Feather, Ryan Hackett, Ryan Syrell, René Treviño, Stephanie Barber, Stewart Watson, Tony Shore, Wickerham & Lomax, and Zoë Charlton.

Dates: June 30 – August 4, 2017 at Area 405

This exhibit was curated by Cara Ober and Stewart Watson.

Wallpaper by Jason Hughes, works by Lauren Frances Adams, Karen Yasinsky, and John Duff
Karen Yasinsky diptych

Lauren Frances Adams mixed media on Jason Hughes wallpaper

Sculpture by David Page in foreground with works by Magnolia Laurie, Melissa Dickinson, and Molly Springfield
Sculpture by Lisa Dillin

Circus by Hasan Elahi on back wall

Sculpture by Stewart Watson
Karen Yasinsky (detail)
John Duff

Painting by Ryan Syrell

Works by Christos Palios, Rene Trevino, and Mark Parascandola

Sculpture by Zoë Charlton

Photos by Christos Palios

DUOX4ODELL’S by Wickerham & Lomax

Sculpture by Neil Feather
Wickerham & Lomax

Viewfinder by Stephanie Barber, painting by Tony Shore

Stephanie Barber viewfinder, Sculpture by Ryan Hackett

Stephanie Barber

Sculpture by Ryan Hackett

Works by Darcie Book and Wickerham & Lomax

Wickerham & Lomax

Darcie Book
Chris LavoieMolly Springfield

Melissa Dickinson

Hasan Elahi

Magnolia Laurie

David Page

Lauren Frances Adams on Jason Hughes Wallpaper Installation

Piñata Performance!