By Howard Pousner
The two local art galleries that represented Scott Ingram over the past decade both folded, leaving him without one for the past eight months. That would be a bummer for an Atlanta artist who regularly shows in other cities, except that great opportunities keep presenting themselves here.
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia on Tuesday night announced the selection of Ingram, E.K. Huckaby and Fahamu Pecou for its 2013-14 Working Artist Project. Its honorees each will receive a $12,000 stipend and a studio assistant to support the creation of an exhibition at MOCA GA over the next year. Also, a work from each show will be added to the Buckhead museum’s permanent collection.
For Ingram, this follows closely on his work being purchased by the High Museum of Art and included in its group exhibition “Drawing Inside the Perimeter,” which has fueled two additional purchases by collectors.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Ingram, 44. “I think there are a lot of things that will come out of it.”
He ticked off potential positives including getting his first solo museum exhibit in the U.S., the opportunity to tackle an ambitious exhibit scaled to MOCA GA’s expansive gallery space, the possibility of reaching new viewers and media exposure.
“You can never have too much of that as an artist in Atlanta,” he said of the last two.
MOCA GA launched the Working Artist Project in 2007 to address a talent drain of accomplished visual artists leaving Atlanta in search of better opportunities and support in larger cities. The Atlanta-based Charles Loridans Foundation has been the sole funder since the beginning.
The project seems to be doing its part. Huckaby, of Brooks, and Atlantans Ingram and Pecou become the 16th, 17th and 18th artists selected for the honor. All 18 continue to produce in Georgia.
Most of the previous winners attended Tuesday’s announcement and spoke of benefits that continue long after the project ends. For instance, Maria Artemis recently installed a major sculpture in Minneapolis whose commission was sparked by a Sculpture Magazine review of her 2009 Working Artist Project exhibit.
“I’m proud to be a part of this because I came from a nonartistic background in rural Georgia,” said Huckaby, 56, who was self-taught in his earliest years before securing a degree from the now-defunct Atlanta College of Art in 1991. “I stayed with it and kept the focus, and this is a milestone.”
Born in Brooklyn, Pecou also studied at the Atlanta College of Art and pursued his career in New York before deciding that Atlanta was home.
“I really enjoy the community and support here,” said Pecou, 38. “There’s so much potential to do a lot of different things here, as opposed to being in a city that’s over-saturated like a New York or L.A., where there’s an artist every two sidewalk squares.”
This year’s honorees were selected by guest juror Franklin Sirmans, contemporary art curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, who said he was impressed by the “real depth of quality” among the nearly 100 applicants.
WHAT THE JUROR SAID …
Here is Sirmans’ statement on his juror’s role and his choices:
“What struck me was that in a field of almost 100 applications there was not only a real depth of quality but that there were a group of artists whose practice demanded attention in this format. This is not an emerging artist prize. There were a number of artists I could have chosen if it were. Some of them are on view in the High Museum of Art’s fantastic show of works on paper (”Drawing Inside the Perimeter”) that is up now. My charge was to think about ‘established visual artists to support as fellows as of the ongoing Working Artist Project (WAP).’
“With that in mind, the WAP fellows reflect the overall diversity of the applications in terms of media, construction and style. Like the best artists over time, each one is deeply, deeply invested and committed to their projects. They have each been practicing and honing their style for a while so that it is now a pliable language for them to move forward in an expansive way.