Inaugural 21c Artadia Award offers local Artists A Career-Boosting Opportunity With A $10,000 Award

How would a cool $10K boost your visual art career? Now through June 15, local artists will have the opportunity to apply for the inaugural 21c Artadia Award. The award — a partnership between contemporary museum and hospitality group 21c Museum Hotels and nonprofit grantmaker and visual artist community Artadia — will provide $10,000 in unrestricted funds to a visual artist living and working in the Louisville Metro area. 

Designed to provide essential funding and recognition to artists at pivotal points in their careers, strengthen arts communities and spur new levels of career achievement, the inaugural 21c Artadia Award is available to visual artists currently living and working within the Louisville Metro area. This includes: Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, Bullitt, Nelson, Meade, Trimble and Henry Counties in Kentucky; and Clark, Harrison, Floyd and Washington Counties in Indiana. 

While the program launches first in Louisville, it will rotate annually to nine U.S. cities where 21c currently operates museum hotels in thriving art communities. Cities currently slated after Louisville include: Kansas City (2022); Durham (2023); and Nashville (2024). 

“21c is committed to supporting today’s most dynamic artists, whose work has the power to transform communities and nurture civic engagement,” 21c Chief Curator and Museum Director Alice Gray Stites said. “We continue to discover inspiring artists in cities large and small across the U.S. Like Artadia, we seek to provide opportunities that allow [the artists’] visions and voices to be seen and heard.”

The open call, no-cost submission process and corresponding information can be found on Artadia’s website. Applicants must be a contemporary visual artist, creating works for presentation in a contemporary art context: museum, galleries, arts nonprofit, the public art realm, etc. Applicants must have lived and worked in the Louisville Metro area for a two-year period and cannot be currently enrolled in or planning to attend an art-related degree program in the coming year.

Each year, the award will be judged by a panel of leading national and international curators. This year’s award will be juried by Vincenzo de Bellis, curator and associate director of programs, Walker Art Center, and Soyoung Lee, chief curator, Harvard Art Museums. The 21c Artadia Awardee will be announced in July 2021. 

In addition to the grant itself, the award includes lifelong access to the Artadia Network, a support program nurturing strategic relationships and connecting awardees with a community of fellow artists and diverse cohort of professionals. 

“Artists are the foundation of a creative society, and their endeavors form the bedrock of our cultural legacy,” Executive Director Carolyn Ramo said. “We are honored to be working with 21c to broaden our geographic reach and recognize the essential contribution of artists in these American cities with this impactful award.” 

Stites said, “It is especially exciting that the inaugural 21c Artadia Award will be given to a talented artist living and working in Louisville, where art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson founded 21c fifteen years ago with a mission to support living artists and broaden the audience for thought-provoking contemporary art.”

21c Museum Hotels has been a longtime supporter of local artists. Those represented in greatest depth in the collection and exhibits built by Brown and Wilson include: John Brooks, Mitch Eckert, Gaela Erwin, Carlos Gamez de Francisco, Ross Gordon, Monica Mahoney, Rebecca Norton, Anne Peabody, Chris Radtke and Letitia Quesenberry. Several of the artists have work on permanent exhibits inside the hotels. 

The guest room art commissions for 21c Louisville are part of “Elevate 21c,” a program the hotel group developed in all locations to support and highlight the work of local artists. Works by local artists are exhibited on loan in dedicated spaces and change several times a year. Local artists have also been commissioned to create permanent installations.

Other initiatives by 21c to support the careers of artists in Louisville include hosting professional development workshops with Creative Capital Foundation and hosting ArtPrize Pitch Night, which provides a grant for the winning artist to install their work in Grand Rapids and become eligible for ArtPrize awards.