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Press Room


Smithsonian American Art Museum Announces Lucelia Artist Award

Contact: Smithsonian American Art Museum's Public Affairs Office AmericanArtinfo[at]
American Art's Web site:
Recorded information: (202) 633-8998

The Smithsonian American Art Museum today (Feb.23) announced the establishment of the Lucelia Artist Award, an annual prize to be awarded to a leading contemporary American artist.

"The dynamism of the 21st century is reflected by so many artists working today," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "The Lucelia Artist Award enhances the museum's commitment to contemporary artists and honors the achievement and promise of living artists who enrich our society with their insight and creativity."

The Lucelia Artist Award will annually recognize an American artist under the age of 50 who has produced a significant body of artwork that demonstrates exceptional creativity. The $25,000 prize is intended to encourage the artist's future development and experimentation.

The award is funded by The Lucelia Foundation, based in New York, N.Y. The Lucelia Foundation is a private foundation that supports the visual arts, specifically 19th-century American and contemporary art.

"Building an exciting contemporary art program through exhibitions, acquisitions, new media initiatives and interaction with artists is a priority for the museum," said Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, chief curator at the museum. "The Lucelia Artist Award will play a major role in achieving our goal."

"In its recognition of an outstanding contemporary artist, the Lucelia Artist Award greatly enhances the profile of contemporary art in American society and in the Smithsonian American Art Museum," said Sidra Stich, the Lucelia Artist Award executive director. "What a superb way to begin the 21st century!"

Stich is currently the director of art•SITES, a new series of contemporary art and architecture handbooks, published in San Francisco, Calif. Since the 1970s, she has specialized in contemporary and modern art as a curator, teacher and writer.

The award-winner is determined by a panel of five distinguished jurors selected from across the United States, each with a wide knowledge of contemporary American art through experience as an artist, critic, author, curator or collector. Jurors remain anonymous until nominations are complete and the winner is announced. The inaugural 2001 winner will be announced in New York City in May.

In recent years the museum has strengthened its commitment to contemporary art and artists through a variety of programs. Recent acquisitions include works by Jennifer Bartlett, Chuck Close, Eric Fischl, Nam June Paik, Renee Stout and Mark Tansey. Exhibitions featuring living American artists include "American Kaleidoscope: Themes and Perspectives in Recent Art" in 1996 and "Eyeing America: Robert Cottingham Prints" in 1998. Exploring technology as a mode for creating art is another focus for the museum. In 1997, the museum hosted a digital atelier with five leading digital printmakers, and last fall announced the establishment of the New Media/New Century Award, through which the museum supports projects that explore American landscape through the new medium of Web art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 38,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk art and contemporary crafts.

While the three-year renovation of the museum's main building—the Old Patent Office—continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.). For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700. Please visit the museum's award-winning Web site at