Sunday, 2 June 2013

Behind the Scenes of the Strathbutler Award

Lithospermum weaving on Rococo Revival balloon-back side chair.
Giving out an award can be a little like being Santa Claus:  deciding on who's naughty or nice and then waiting until the big day to make the decision public. As the official announcement goes, "The Strathbutler recognizes excellence in any field of visual arts or fine craft by an artist who has made a substantial contribution to the province of New Brunswick. It is given biennially on the recommendation of an independent panel of visual art professionals. Established in 1991, the award has grown in value and prestige and is now valued at $25,000."

This year the worthy winner is Susan Judah, whose work in textiles we, the aforementioned "visual arts professionals", described as "exquisite visual poetry.” And our 3-person jury was unanimous and without hesitation in the decision. My two colleagues were:  Robin Metcalfe, Director of Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery and current President of the Atlantic Provinces Art Galleries Association, Dr. Elizabeth Finch, the Lunder Curator of American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art. The three of us worked seamlessly together and still found time for bilingual jokes and casual shop talk like, "and what do you make of Atlantic realism?"  This was also the first time I'd gotten to discuss business with Kathryn McCaroll, the Executive Director of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation and I was impressed with her special blend of idealism, pragmatism and strategic thinking –like partnering with the Atlantic Provincial Art Galleries Association annual conference this June. 
Congratulations are in order for Susan Judah!

Susan Judah's solid nomination package was put together by Peter Laroque and Beth Powning, who lauded the significant contribution Judah has made to the vitality of visual arts in New Brunswick. Judah will be presented with the Strathbutler Award by His Honor, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, Graydon Nicholas at a gala reception on June 21st during the SHMF sponsored event The Jack Weldon Humphrey Forum to be held at the New Brunswick Museum.

Consult for a full jury statement, complete juror biographies and details on the Strathbutler Gala Reception and Jack Weldon Humphrey Forum.

One of the things that I delight in with the Stratbutler is that visual art and fine craft are on an equal footing.  That way of thinking is also why Shary Boyle is representing Canada this year at the Venice Biennale.

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