The 2016 Liberta Awards!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Announcing The 2016 Liberta Awards! - Artblog Editor

2016 was a standard year by many measures, with one major difference (ahem, you know what that is). Regime change is coming, and Artblog is greeting Jan. 20 with trepidation — and resolve. We are re-committing ourselves to our core mission of diversity — to write about and celebrate the excellence of artists routinely shunned by the mainstream media. The task seems more urgent now than ever.

We added four writers in 2016 – Flora Ward (also our Content Editor), Neil Marcello, Martha Kearns, and Justin Walker — and we are thrilled to have them on our team! Also in 2016, we welcome back Dave Kyu’s Art Commission Check-in’s, Matthew Rose’s Postcards from Paris and Matt Kalasky‘s Reader Advisor. The second New Art Writing Challenge took place this year, with prizes and publication of 12 wonderful pieces of writing. Our podcasts resumed, hosted by the Galleries at Moore’s TGMR internet radio station. 2016 was a good year for Artblog, with lots of support in the community. Thank you for all that love!! You know we love you back. As we gear up for 2017, here is a look back at 2016, with nods for excellence and quirkiness.

Without further ado, The 2016 Liberta Awards:


The Artists

Cassils performance
Cassils, performance at PAFA in December, 2016. Endurance performance by body artist. Image courtesy of the artist.

Move over Marina Abramovic – Cassils is here
Make room for the new high priest/ess of endurance-performance, and their name is Cassils.

Best new work by a dead artist – Diane Arbus
Diane Arbus, In the Beginning at Met Breuer. Early works never before shown — small individual works, hung one per pillar in a gallery filled with rows of pillars. Visiting the photos was like walking the stations of the cross. The photo installation owes a lot to Zoe Strauss’s monumental “Under I-95” show of yore, in which photos were hung on the concrete pillars under the massive highway (see here). (Thanks, Cate Fallon)

Artist we love, whose show we didn’t see yet, but we still have time, so there is hope
Pippilotti Rist, Pixel Forest at the New Museum, up through Jan. 15. Because who else smashes car windows with such elegant glee and who makes the best immersive video installations?! BTW, catch her work in Times Square for the Midnight Moment art showings, nightly on the big screens, 11:57-12 midnight, from Jan. 1 – 31, 2017. (Thanks, Cate Fallon)


Artist we love, whose show we didn’t see yet, but we still have time, so there is hope – 2
Kerry James Marshall, Mastry at Met Breuer, up to Jan. 29. Enough said.

Pap Souleye Fall in his body suit
Pap Souleye Fall in his body suit

Best hand-stitched body suit worn to a podcast interview – Pap Souleye Fall
Pap Souleye Fall’s suit is amazing, the fact that he stitches himself into it is amazing, and so is pretty much everything he says.  Listen to the podcast here.

Best uncomfortable art exhibit that also was fun – Martin Creed
Martin Creed’s, The Back Door, at Park Avenue Armory, has noise, music, processions, poop, balloons, lights, paintings, signs, darkness and light, doors opening and closing, piano opening and slamming shut. Bang, bang, bang. A fun house with meaning, about exclusion, risk, beauty, identity, music, acceptance, games and leadership/follower-ship. Genius! (video below is from the show)


Artist activist gets something BIG done – Sarah McEneaney
Sarah McEneaney’s unflagging efforts and clear vision help bring the Rail Park to life! They broke ground in November!

Artist activist gets BIG national recognition – Pepon Osorio
Pepon Osorio is nominated by President Obama to National Council on the Arts

“Transmutation of Tristin’s Passat," Tristin Lowe. Image courtesy of Temple Contemporary.
“Transmutation of Tristin’s Passat,” Tristin Lowe. Image courtesy of Temple Contemporary.

Best transformation of a near death experience into art – Tristin Lowe
Tristin Lowe’s half Passat, hanging from the ceiling at Temple Contemporary is funny until you hear the story and then it becomes elegaic. Car and Tristin survived collision on a back road at night.

Pew Wish List

Ashley Wick
Beth Heinly
Pap Souleye Fall
Michelle Marcuse
Nick Lenker
Wilmer Wilson

The Organizers

Best local art fair that was and wasn’t (an art fair) – Unlisted
“Unlisted” – Icebox and Marginal Utility (David Dempewolf and Yuka Yokayama) team up for a 13 ”booth” art fair organized by local curators, featuring the best most wonderful diversity of talent in Philadelphia. (Video is Grimaldi Baez, “Drawing Apparatus #1,” seen at Unlisted)

Shaking it up – Jodi Throckmorton
Jodi Throckmorton, PAFA Curator of Contemporary Art, is probably the greatest mover and shaker at the Academy since Thomas Eakins. Her last two exhibits brought robotic ghost machines and a live performance by gender-non-conforming artist, Cassils, to the Academy. Feminist and outside-the-box thinker, Philadelphia is fortunate to have her. Listen to podcast here.

Shaking it up 2 – Andrea Kirsh
Andrea Kirsh, Artblog’s intrepid senior writer and committed feminist, brings a new show into the world at Rutgers Camden’s Stedman Gallery. Sharp-Tongued Figuration runs January 17 – April 21, 2017. The featured artists are Sue Coe, Nell Painter, Mickalene Thomas, Kukuli Velarde and Sandy Winters.

The Books

Books 1 – Page-turner art book – Judith Stein’s Eye of the Sixties.
Stein unveils quirky guy, Richard Bellamy, as the New York art world insider whose prescient eye selected many artists we now think of as art gods. Fantastic read.

Books 2 – Uplifting Memoir – Bridgette Mayer’s The Art Cure
The artist/gallerist has a moving story to tell.

Books 3 – Best niche market idea – Sarah Archer’s Midcentury Christmas
Midcentury modern is hot, and this book is the perfect holiday accompaniment.

Books 4 – Ulises
Ulises independent artist-book and alternative press bookshop debuts in North Philly. Yay!

The Sachs awards

Sachs 1 – Keith and Kathy Sachs
$15M Sachs Program for Art Innovation endowed at UPenn by Penn alums, Keith and Kathy Sachs.

Sachs 2 – Sid Sachs
Sid Sachs’s interactive web archive, Invisible City , allows people to add information to the timeline, which starts in 1950s and will go through the 1960s and 1970s. A great service to the city’s art community, put together by someone who deserves a medal.

Comings and Goings

Bree Pickering, formerly Executive Director, Vox Populi, moves back home to Australia to become Director, Murray Art Museum Albury

Machete Reading Group – when times are tough, a tough reading group is needed. Machete Redux had its first meet-up Dec. 10. More at the Marginal Utility website.

Gallery Joe returns
Our favorite gallery for drawings and works on paper re-opens as a house gallery at St. James Ct.

Bridgette Mayer Gallery closes
Mayer closes her space on Washington Square but continues to represent artists in her bi-coastal (Philly/Los Angeles) art dealing.

T&M Studios closes
Virginia Maksymowicz and Blaise Tobia gave their all for the little space on the 4th floor of the Vox Building. The artist couple is on to other things, including travel, teaching and showing their own work.

Archive Space Project at Crane Arts closes
Archive Space Project becomes a digital archive here.

CÉNITZ /ZENIT Stencil & Engraving on Steel Slab 48” H x 48” W By José Ortiz-Págan
CÉNITZ /ZENIT, Stencil & Engraving on Steel Slab, 48” H x 48” W, By José Ortiz-Págan. This work will be on view Aug. 6 at RASCO Fine Arts

Latino art gallery, RACSO opens in South Philly
With a mission to showcase Latino artists in Philadelphia, RACSO has a beautiful space and regular openings, with a solid program of cutting edge art by local artists.

Fjord reopens at Crane Arts
The scrappy alternative member gallery, formerly on Frankford Ave. is back and in the thick of things on the first floor of Crane Arts. Good programming ensues.

JOG (James Oliver Gallery) celebrates ten years!

Taller Puertorriqueno opens new El Corazon space on N. 5th St.

gallery space, Taller Puertorriqueno
Taller Puertorriqueno’s new Lorenzo Homar Gallery in the El Corazon Center.

After many years of being in two spaces with not enough room in either, Taller Puertorriqueno now has a great BIG space with a bright, high-ceilinged gallery and a large, digitally-equipped auditorium, plus light-filled airy classrooms and a gift shop! Get over there and support this important Latino center for arts and culture.

It took ’em long enough
In 2016, PMA initiates “Artist Membership” category – $40/annual

A museum so in demand that you can’t get into it – African American Museum of Arts and Culture opens in D.C.
Tickets sold out through March, 2017, to visit this long-anticipated museum. (Same day tickets available first come first serve in person at 9:15 AM on the day.) Artblog’s Michael Lieberman was fortunate to get in. Read his review here.

AAMP Curator, Leslie Guy, moves to Chicago to become Chief Curator, DuSable Museum of African American History

Rebecca Saylor Sack appointed Head of Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, UArts

Harry Philbrick steps down as Director at PAFAa and creates Philadelphia Contemporary, an experimental visual and performance art project.

Susan Talbot becomes Director, Fabric Workshop and Museum

Lisa Brown steps in as CFEVA President and CEO

Patricia C. Phillips named Chief Academic Officer at Moore College.

Sam Sweet takes over Delaware Art Museum as Executive Director and CEO.

Meg Onli appointed Assistant Curator at the ICA.

Noyes Museum Closes but Foundation lives on in partnership with Stockton U.


Nick Kripal (63) – Soul of generosity and grace, beloved teacher and mentor at Tyler School of Art.

Randy Dalton (67) – Artist-activist of “Do Blue.”

Joe Tiberino (77) – Father of the renowned Powelton Village art family.

Vaughn Stubbs (69) – Well-loved and respected Philadelphia artist Vaughn Stubbs.

George A. “Frolic” Weymouth (80) – Founder and chairman, Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art.

Marisol (85) – Trailblazing woman and Pop Artist.

A Final Word

Over the last 13 years, Artblog has poured its heart out covering the arts in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Our mission has always been to cover those whose voices for the most part have been omitted from the discussion – women and all minorities. Our mission is more important now, when marginalized people are threatened or dismissed as irrelevant. Our pledge to you, our readers, is to bring you important voices in the community and elevate discussion about why art matters to all of us — it does! If you care about our mission, please support it. Make a contribution today to Artblog via our Paypal (link here). Or, send your check to TheArtblog, Inc., 103 Bentley Ave., Bala Cynwyd, PA, 19004.  Artblog is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax deductible. Thank You for your continued support! Love, Roberta and the Artblog Team