Taos Fall Arts Festival announces major awards

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The Taos Fall Arts Festival Committee has announced the 2016 winners of the prestigious Peter and Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts “Visionary Artist” awards. They are ceramic artist Brandi Jessup and metal sculptor Christina Sporrong.

“The Visionary Artist award is an affirmation for actively working and exhibiting artists who contribute to and invigorate the growth of the living art community in Taos: artists whose works innovate, challenge, and bridge the boundary between the traditional and the cutting-edge. In creating their own paradigms, they bring generations together through inventiveness and originality combined with respect for the roots of this historic art colony,” a Fall Arts press release states.

Jessup, who recently acquired ownership of Taos Clay Studio in El Prado, is being recognized for her “commitment to building opportunities for lifelong learning and experimentation in the visual arts.” Having recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Alfred University, Jessup’s youth belies the dedication and sheer determination she brings to the task.

Her business model has community outreach as its foundation, with classes and internship and residency programs being conducted in her expanding gallery space. Jessup considers herself “a writer, a traveler, and a maker” but her new role at Taos Clay Studio is sure to have an enduring impact upon Taos.

Sporrong is forever etched upon the memory of the Taos community, as she performed from the top of her large metal sculpture, “TaranTula,” during the 2015 Taos Fall Arts Festival/ The PASEO. The enormous climbable spider, replete with embedded lights and loudspeakers, became emblematic of that festival, but long before it made its debut in Taos it had been to Burning Man and Glastonbury, and now resides at Santa Fe’s ground breaking installation, Meow Wolf.

With a fine arts degree from Parsons School of Design, Sporrong is part performance artist, part metal sculptor, and one of a small cadre of female commercial blacksmithing and fabrication shop owners: one who has broken ground both nationally and internationally, and Taos is proud to call Sporrong one of its own.

The winners will be feted at the Taos Select Award Ceremony and reception, scheduled for Sept. 23.

The Taos Fall Arts Festival Committee also announced the winner of the 2016 Charles Strong Distinguished Life Achievement Award.

“The Taos Fall Arts Committee is deeply honored to announce that Alyce Frank has been chosen as this year’s recipient,” a Taos Fall Arts Festival press release states. “The paintings of Alyce Frank evoke a rare authenticity, one that springs from both a deeply spiritual connection to place and a profound love of art. Her inspiration from the German Expressionists and the Fauves led to her signature use of vivid, saturated colors that speak with emotion, and her equally bold brushstrokes lend a joyous spontaneity to the landscapes for which she is most noted. Rarely are the high desert scenery, the mountains and the valleys of northern New Mexico captured through such an affectionate, painterly lens.”

After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and her graduate degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, Frank moved to New Mexico four decades ago and began her career in fine art.

In 1999, The Magical Realism of Alyce Frank, a book in the New Mexico Magazine Artist Series, was published, in which the self-characterized “Taos Expressionist” said, “New Mexico was so powerful and demanding that the way I made peace with it was to paint it.”

Today, she remains one of Taos’ most beloved residents and artists, though her works have traveled beyond the Southwest to receive international acclaim.

For additional information on Taos Fall Arts Festival, visit taosfallarts.com.

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