Wednesday, June 20, 2007

rising...and falling

I spent Friday afternoon at my in-laws' house, smug with the knowledge that we'd gotten Aa to her first birthday without squishing, maiming, or otherwise damaging her.

But in between laps of the living room, I found myself in front of the computer, checking the Winnipeg Arts Council website.

WAC instituted four new awards this year, including the On the Rise Award (emerging artist), the Marking a Mark Award (mid-career artist), the Making a Difference Award (senior artist, arts administrator, or arts organization).

My interest in these awards was personal, as Perry Grosshans, General Manager of the WIWF, Prairie Fire BOD President, and former WWG member, had nominated me for the On the Rise Award.
Ariel Gordon Nominated by Perry Grosshans
Ariel Gordon’s poetry appears in numerous places, like the sides of buses, and frequently merges with photography. Always producing, always striving, she encourages others through her community projects, online and off.

And the sold-out Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts, where the awards were to be handed out, was on Friday.

I had a good idea that I hadn't won, because I hadn't heard from WAC in the days leading up to the luncheon, but I still wanted to see who had won and whose company I was keeping.

And what good company it was...there were eleven artists nominated in my category, including winner Sarah Anne Johnson.
Sarah Anne Johnson Nominated by Plug In ICA
Sarah Anne Johnson is a visual artist searching for community through the lens of a camera, the memories of tree planting, and tableaux mingling craft materials with utopian dreams.

In a remarkably short period of time, Ms. Johnson has translated Manitoba experience and youthful optimism into a position among the most respected art institutions in the world. When she graduated at the top of her class from the University of Manitoba in 2002, she garnered attention from North America's top graduate programs. She was courted by Yale University, where she produced a pivotal body of work based on her experiences tree planting in Northern Manitoba that grabbed the attention of art dealers and curators. This work has been shown in New York City with praise from critics, calling the show "the season's most engaging and appealing photographic debut". This mass of critical momentum peaked when her work was bought by the Guggenheim Museum.

She has since returned home to solo exhibitions of her work at Winnipeg's Platform gallery and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art.

With upcoming participation in the 2007 Montreal Biennale, acquisition into the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Phtography, and exhibitions in New York, Hartford, Chicago and Australia, Johnson is realizing possibility at an inspiring rate. This level of accomplishment is virtually unheard of for an emerging artist, and it has elevated Johnson's work into an international arena that has become an enduring source of pride for Winnipeggers and Canadians alike.

While the only contact I've had with Johnson was taking in her show at Platform Gallery, I have worked with or sat on committees with several of the other nominees.

And so, although I wasn't served either Arugula, Orange and Black Olive Salad with Salted Ricotta, Seabass with Sauteed Spinach and Parsnip Puree, and Crème Brulee OR that $2,500 cheque, it was still nice to be feted, if only distantly.

Thanks to WAC for instituting these awards as well as several other fascinating initiatives (like the upcoming Artist in Residence at the City of Winnipeg Archives).

Thanks too to Perry, who took the time to nominate me while in the middle of writing several WIWF-related grant applications (and pushing his own writing projects even further down the list of to-dos).

And even if haven't risen far enough for WAC's jury, I still feel like I have risen, with the help of people like Perry, my fellow nominees, and also all of you who read this blog.

So, well, thanks...


Brenda Schmidt said...

What a lovely post. You rock, A!

Ariel Gordon said...

Thanks, B...

Anita Daher said...

I agree it is a lovely post. And I agree that you ROCK!

Ariel Gordon said...

My word!

tracy said...

I like that word, and you do rock A. Totally!

Polly said...

Oh you're rising, woman! Keep that helium going!