Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery exhibit arrives at Tacoma Art Museum

Submitted by Tacoma Art Museum

Jhe 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 the Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The exhibition features 43 innovative works in the art of representation, including paintings , sculptures, drawings, photographs and multimedia installations. The dazzling variety of media and diverse approaches to exploring “self” and “the other” will challenge preconceived notions of portraiture and expand the imagination of visitors. The exhibition will be visible until Mother’s Day, Sunday May 14, 2017.

The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today, the exhibition resulting from the triennial Outwin Boocher Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, will open at the Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, February 4, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Tacoma Art Museum

Outwin 2016 was one of the Portrait Gallery‘s most popular exhibitions, attracting over 900,000 visitors to its Washington, DC galleries. The exhibition presents the finalists of the fourth edition of the competition. More than 2,500 artists from across the United States submitted entries. Outwin 2016The appearance of at the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) presents a rare opportunity for art lovers as it is the first time the exhibit has traveled beyond the Portrait Gallery. TAM will be the first stop on the National Tour and the only West Coast location.

Outwin 2016: the American portrait today showcases the national conversations of the past three years,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, who will speak at the opening celebration for TAM members on the evening of February 4. “These works are not only geographically diverse, they also reflect discussions around gender, race, poverty, health care, at-risk youth, migration, and family power.

The exhibition includes English and Spanish gallery labels. Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite portrait and watch a video featuring interviews with the top award-winning artists and guest jurors. An exhibition catalog illustrating each of the 43 finalist works will be available in the TAM store for $14.95. Special events will mark opening day, including a 3 p.m. Conversation with the Curator with Dorothy Moss, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery. Moss will talk about the history of the contest and how the six judges selected the finalists from the thousands of entries. For the duration of the exhibition, visitors can participate in a free Portrait Party community festival, artist talks, free gallery access and Third Thursday activities, and interactive opportunities on social networks.

Tacoma Art Museum
Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite portrait and watch a video featuring interviews with the top award-winning artists and guest jurors. Photo credit: Tacoma Art Museum

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the Smithsonian exhibit to TAM and the region. It’s a great choice for many reasons. Portraiture is one of TAM’s collecting strengths. The portraits have a meaning that everyone can relate to. And it’s an important area of ​​practice for many artists in the North West,” said Stephanie Stebich, TAM’s Managing Director. “Outwin 2016 presents a selection of the most exceptional and exciting portrait works from across the country. These portraits tell stories of national concerns that also resonate in Tacoma. We can’t wait to share it with everyone.

High-profile guest jurors for the competition included Dawoud Bey, art professor and distinguished artist at Columbia College Chicago; Helen Molesworth, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; Jerry Saltz, senior art critic at new York magazine; and John Valadez, a realist painter and muralist based in Los Angeles. The members of the Portrait Gallery jury were Brandon Brame Fortune, Chief Curator, and Dorothy Moss, Associate Curator of Paintings and Sculpture and Competition Director. The jurors viewed this exhibition as a synthesis of historical and cultural events that have taken place over 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 All (Issuance Not Suppressed). Sherald received $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the permanent collection of the Portrait Gallery. Second prize was awarded to Cynthia Henebry of Richmond, VA, for her giclee print titled Mavis in the backand third prize to Joel Daniel Phillips of Oakland, CA, for his charcoal and graphite drawing Eugene #4. Artists praised include Jess T. Dugan for her self-portrait photography; Jessica Todd Harper for her photograph in pigment print Becky, June, Jessica and Mary; Sedrick Huckaby for his self-portrait Sedrick, Sed, daddy; and Daniel James McInnis for his inkjet print Heidi and Lily, Ohio 2014. Each of these artists received a cash prize. A full list of artists whose works have been selected for the exhibition follows at the end of this release.

Tacoma Art Museum
Outwin 2016 was one of the most popular shows at the Portrait Gallery. Photo credit: Tacoma Art Museum

Juror Dawoud Bey has local ties. The 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 up people who had never met but were part of the UWT community, posing them for portraits with some interesting results. Tacoma Art Museum was one of the sites where he photographed the portraits. Bey’s resulting works are now on display at the Snoqualmie Library on the UWT campus. Also of local note, artist Evan Baden from Oregon has work in the exhibit; 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 United States and abroad.

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is made possible by a donation 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 his dearest wish to endow the museum with the capacity to organize a triennial contemporary portrait competition. Share his enthusiasm and learn about his legacy in this exhibition at TAM.

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Julia P. Cluff