Liberta Awards 2022

Wow, 2023. Whatever happens, let this new year be better than 2022, 2021, 2020. We remain optimistic! Here is our list of memorable people, places and things in 2022, including a whole lot of churn in the Philly art world. It’s the 2022 LIBERTA AWARDS !!!

A selection of this year's Liberta Award nominees, including Cathy Young, Christian Cooper, Penny Balkin-Bach, Rob Buscher, Roberto Lugo, and the Philadelphia Contemporary's Floating Gallery
Cathy Young, Christian Cooper, Penny Balkin-Bach, Rob Buscher, Roberto Lugo, Philadelphia Contemporary’s Floating Gallery.

2022 was another year that made us weep: war in Ukraine (300+ days and counting); Covid, RSV and flu lurking and catching many by surprise; gun violence marching across the headlines and and destroying lives in almost daily tragedies. All this horror diminishes lives, yours, ours, everyone’s. In the Philadelphia art world, there was churn at institutions large and small. And we want to know, how could the City turn a celebratory monument to beloved freedom fighter Harriet Tubman into a local-national scandal that played out for months and is still leaving some sick to their stomachs? We are hoping that with new leadership in City Hall comes enlightened oversight and financial support for the arts sector, which is still hurting from the pandemic and recession.

Turning to the upside, we applaud Philadelphia Contemporary for its ability to dream at this difficult time. Their Art Barge on the Delaware proposal shook us up. The idea is weirdly appealing–a retro-futuristic space that is so un-Philadelphia in its boldness and readiness to take a chance, that we are doing cart wheels and cheering. We’re betting that PC has the can-do to make it happen. The sports teams have their stadiums; the art community needs an Art Barge. Are you listening, City Hall? Mayoral candidates?

We are also cheering the many unions that are fighting hard to negotiate good contracts with their employers. Special kisses to the PMA Union, which scored a significant victory over management after a 19-day strike. Shout out to United Academics of Philadelphia and especially the UArts Faculty unit, which is one year into their first contract negotiation with an employer who is pushing back. Fight on, people!

To all of you reading this, we wish you the very healthiest and happiest of New Years. We will see you in 2023! Meanwhile, get in touch! The inbox is always open:

Angel of the Year

Rob Buscher (A Community submission by Sunny Huang) Buscher (Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, etc.) has dedicated the past decade to invigorating Philly’s arts and culture community, so I’m excited for the opportunity to help honor him for his work. (For example: The Third Space: Japanese American Resettlement in Greater Philadelphia exhibit with the Da Vinci Art Alliance and work bridging Black and Asian American communities in West Philadelphia with JASGP) Thank you!– Sunny Huang

Rob Buscher is a filmmaker, arts administrator, arts educator, and author.
Rob Buscher is a filmmaker, arts administrator, arts educator, and author. Buscher has been active in the Philadelphia socially engaged arts scene for over a decade. Photo courtesy of Rob Buscher.

Biggest Art Mess over a beloved historical figure

Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) and Mayor Kenney over the closed commission process for a Harriet Tubman statue at City Hall. After public outcry over the decision to award the lucrative commission to a white man, the city changed course to make the selection process an open call.

Best dream with a chance of becoming real

Philadelphia Contemporary for its Art Barge on the Delaware

A mockup of Philadelphia Contemporary's barge headquarters.
Philadelphia Contemporary’s proposed Floating Gallery headquarters, to be docked between the Cherry and Race Street piers on the Delaware River. Image courtesy of AOS Architects.

Kudos – Artists

Guggenheim Fellows Full list here

  • Mark Thomas Gibson (Tyler Professor)
  • Lynne Woods Turner (showed with Gallery Joe)

Peabody Award Winner

Kudos – Publication

The Photo Review turns 47 in 2023! That’s almost 50, yo! Much respect and admiration and congratulations to founder and editor, Stephen Perloff. Keep up your great support of the photo community!

Trends – Higher Education Presidential turnovers

Moore College of Art and design
Cecilia Fitzgibbon steps down this year, and Cathy Young takes over the position on July 1st.

Smiling photo of Cathy Young, who was recently elected as Moore's new President.
Cathy Young, Moore’s new President. Photo courtesy of Moore.

La Salle University
La Salle University selects Daniel J. Allen, Ph.D., as next president, replacing Colleen M. Hanycz, who led La Salle University since 2015, and will lead Xavier University, another Catholic school, in Cincinnati.

University of Pennsylvania
University of Virginia provost M. Elizabeth Magill, 56, will replace Amy Gutmann as Penn’s next president. Magill, who is Penn’s third consecutive female president, once led Stanford’s law school, and clerked for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Temple University (This happened in July, 2021, so a little ahead of the trend.)
Temple University selected Dr. Jason Wingard, former dean and professor of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University, as its next president. Dr. Wingard is the university’s 12th president, and began serving on July 1. Dr. Wingard succeeds the retiring president, Dr. Richard M. Englert.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)
Eric Pryor has been appointed president of the historic museum and college, beginning January 18, 2022.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Early in 2022, Timothy Rub announced his retirement as director and chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sasha Suda took over in September, just in time for thePMA Union strike.

Sasha Suda, the PMA's new director and chief executive officer.
Sasha Suda, the PMA’s new director and chief executive officer.  Photo courtesy of WHYY.

Girard College
The new President of Girard College is F. Christopher Goins.

Comings and Goings

Past Present Projects opens on the 2nd floor in the Bok Building.

The Clay Studio moves to its new building on North American Street!

Association for Public Art
Penny Bach steps back as leader of Association for Public Art after 42 years as Executive Director.

Penny Balkin-Bach stepped down from her position as Executive Director of the Association for Public Art after 42 years in the role.
Penny Balkin-Bach stepped down from her position as Executive Director of the Association for Public Art. Image courtesy of APA.

Christina Vassalo to leave FWM to be Director of Contemporary Art Center of Cincinnati starting in March, 2023.

Monica Zimmerman moves from PAFA to be Executive Director at Fleisher Art Memorial

Tsenia Nouril, Jensen Bryan Curator, steps down from the Print Center

PMA Curators, Carlos Basualdo and Jessica Todd Smith, get new titles and opaque job descriptions. Sasha Suda announced the in-house promotions six weeks into her job as new Museum Director. The move is to beef up their curatorial department.

Danny Orendorff (ED, Vox Populi) and Alex Klein (Curator, Philadelphia ICA) leave Philly for The Contemporary Austin (TX). Alex Klein’s appointment is Head Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs and Danny Orendorff is Senior Director of Programs & Engagement.

Barbara Silzle steps down as Executive Director of  The Philadelphia Cultural Fund. For the last seven years, Barbara was a tireless champion of arts organizations and the arts community, and we all weep.

Smiling image of Barbara Silzle, former executive director at the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
In 2022, Barbara Silzle stepped down after seven years from her executive director role at the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Photo courtesy of Barbara Silzle.

Allan Edmunds retires from Brandywine Workshop and Archives. Founder and executive director Allan L. Edmunds retired this fall and the Board of Directors has a five-year plan in place, Brandywine 2.0, to manage the transition of leadershipRead Artblog’s interview with Allan Edmunds.

Kapp Kapp, short-lived but interesting gallery on 13th St. closes their Philadelphia gallery to consolidate in their New York space. 

Judilee Reed, former Program Director of Creative Communities at the William Penn Foundation becomes President and CEO of United States Artists.

Rasheedah Phillips, of Black Quantum Futurism, moves from  Community Legal Services of Philadelphia to be the new Director of Housing at PolicyLink.  

Debra Ward, longtime arts supporter and former Chair of Vox Populi’s board, moves to Raleigh, NC. 

Flora Ward, former Development Staff at Taller Puertorriqueno becomes Development Manager at Association for Public Art. (Flora previously was an Artblog editor and contributor.)

Common Field closes up shop in a Common Field kind of way, calling it “sunsetting” after a scathing audit that accused their leadership of unfair/biased/passive-aggressive practices towards staff

The Plastic Club gets a historical marker for being the third-oldest art group in the country! The Plastic Club is the third oldest art club in the United States. Located in Center City Philadelphia, it runs workshops, shows, salons and other art-related events. For more information go to the club’s website.

The Plastic Club, the third oldest art club in the United States, got a historical marker in 2022.
The Plastic Club, the third oldest art club in the United States, got a historical marker in 2022.

The Halide Project opens its darkroom for Members. 

The Louis Kahn Lecture Room by Siah Armajani (1939-2020) at Fleisher Art Memorial is gifted to the PMA, which will install it within its walls.

After Two Outdoor Shows at FDR Park, the Philadelphia Flower Show Announces its Return to the Pennsylvania Convention Center next March 4-12, 2023. For more information or for questions on the Flower Show, visit their website

Barnes Foundation celebrates 100 years of arts education!

Christian Cooper gets a TV Show. Ok, so this is not in Philly but it’s great anyway. Christian Cooper, the bird-watching Black man who was the target of racist and false accusations by a white woman during an encounter in New York City’s Central Park in 2020, now has a bird-watching TV show.

Christian Cooper debuted a bird watching television show on National Geographic this year.
Christian Cooper debuted a bird watching television show on National Geographic this year. Photo courtesy of NPR.

2022 Books we love by Philadelphia authors

Streets Dept releases a printed booklet of self-guided tours. How can you get your copy of the first edition of Artseeing? Join the Streets Dept Patreon!

Safe Places
Safe Spaces by Kerry Dolan. Juniper Prize Winning book of Short Stories.

Lastgaspism: Art and Survival in the Age of Pandemic
by Anthony Romero, Daniel Tucker, and Dan S. Wang. Contributions from Kimberly Bain, Sandra de la Loza, Cheryl Derricotte, Design Studio for Social Intervention (Kenneth Bailey and Lori Lobenstine), Erin Genia, Pato Hebert, Damon Locks, Kelli Morgan, Karthik Pandian. ALSO! This book gets the Best Book Title award!

Pew Fellows Wishlist

Anne Minich more

Drawing of a woman (left) and a man (right) framing a central panel, a memorial sculpture with a small nude drawing over the sculpture's genitalia, the wall to the left and right of the panel is highly patterned.
Anne Minich, “Aqua Bride,” mid-1970s, graphite on paper, 30” x 40”. Courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery

Dona Nelson  more

Eric Battle  more

Pedro Ospina – His work in the community is truly selfless. The space he created is one for the community. He invites everyone to come and partake of, add to, create in and contribute to the safe and wondrous space he has created. more

Taji Ra’oof Nahl  more

Richard J. Watson  more 

Maria Dumlao  more

Patricia Renee’ Thomas  more

Cindy Stockton Moore  more

Jesse Harrod  more

MacArthur Fellow (Genius) Wishlist

Allan Edmunds

Allan Edmunds, founder of the Brandywine Workshop and Archives, smiles in front of a grey backdrop.
Allan Edmunds, Photo by Gustavo Garcia, 2019

Roberto Lugo

Artist Roberto Lugo poses with his ceramics in his studio.
Roberto Lugo in his studio. Photo by Ryan Collerd, Courtesy of the Pew Research Center.


Jennifer Bartlett (1941-2022)

Yvonne Bobrowicz (94, 1928-2022)

Blake Bradford (1970-2022)

Portrait of Blake Bradford, Philadelphia arts educator, writer, and socially engaged arts administrator.
Blake Bradford, beloved arts educator and writer, passed in 2022. Bradford was deeply engaged in Philly’s socially engaged art community. Photo courtesy of Moore.

Moe Brooker (1940-2022)

Moe Brooker, Philadelphia artist and educator, who passed this year at age 81.
Moe Brooker, Philadelphia artist and educator, passed this year at age 81. Brooker’s career spanned over 50 years. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Tribune.

Rodney Graham (1949-2022)

Bill Hutson Lancaster artist and educator (1936-2022)

Sam Gilliam (88, 1933-2022)

Leroy Johnson (1937-2022)

Words about Leroy Johnson from Betty Leacraft on July 10, 2022:
Greetings Artists/Friends,
Early Saturday afternoon I was informed that our dearly beloved Leroy Johnson transitioned.
My Sentiments!

Leroy was a prolific, multi-talented, one of a kind artist, and special human being. I am grateful to him as one of a few “recognized” artists who always encouraged my creative efforts. I will miss his Old Head stroll, wit, wisdom, and smile. He leaves behind large, indelible, artistic footprints.

A Recent Memory!

On the second Sunday of June, 2022, I visited Leroy in Jefferson Hospital. He was semi-reclined in a patient lounge chair near his bed but also close to the window. I commented on the sketch pad and colored pencils on the windowsill, he picked the pad up to show me a drawing he made of buildings within view. After a bit of light hearted conversation I told him a funny joke, he responded with soft laughter and a smile. As I prepared to leave, Leroy extended his fist and we bumped! How comforting it is now to recall his smile on that particular day because I left Jefferson knowing inside myself it might be the last time I would ever see him.

Margaret Keane, ‘big eyes’ artist, dies aged 94 (1927-2022)

Aline Kominsky-Crumb (1948 – 2022)

Martha Madigan (72, 1950-2022),25049

Portrait of Martha Madigan in a dramatically lit dark room.
Martha Madigan, Mount Airy photographer and arts educator, passed in 2022. Madigan was director of Tyler School of Art and Architecture’s Photography program. Photo courtesy of Chestnut Hill Local.

Susan Moore (69) (1953-2022)

Susan Moore, painter and beloved professor at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, passed in 2022.
Susan Moore, painter and beloved professor at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, passed in 2022. Photo courtesy of Temple University.

Hermann Nitsch (1938-2022)

Want to know why Hermann is in this list? Artblog wrote about him a lot when he had a show at Slought in 2005.

Claes Oldenburg (93, 1929-2022)

Peter Schjeldahl (80, 1942-2022)

Sande Webster (89) (1933-2022)

Artblog Markings

Julia Marsh, Artblog's new Executive Director and Editor, is wearing a black shirt and glasses stands in front of the sun setting on the Philadelphia skyline.
Julia Marsh is Artblog’s new Executive Director and Editor. Photo by Abbey Lakey.

This year we welcome a new Executive Director and Editor, Julia Marsh! Julia is an artist/writer/editor/educator and comes to Artblog with all kinds of experience and a love of Artblog that matches the founders! We also welcome Managing Editor Ilana Napoli, who has been a contributor to and valued co-worker at Artblog since 2017, and uses her magic to make Artblog a smooth running ship! We’re thrilled to have these new energetic folks captaining the publication! In other news, Roberta Fallon, Co-founder and long-time Executive Director and Editor stepped into an advisory and contributory role. We’re not saying goodbye to Roberta, just see you around, as she will continue to write and interview artists and participate as Advisor, Executive Editor and Board member. We’ve welcomed some new writers and look forward to welcoming more! This year we published 207 posts (reviews, features, interviews), six podcasts, and many many comics. All for you, our fabulous readers! Finally, and importantly, Artblog became N.I.C.E. this year courtesy of a wonderful WHYY-Lenfest-Knight program to support community news platforms. We are beginning a content-sharing collaboration with The Local in January. And we hope to collaborate with all of the N.I.C.E. community news partners moving forward.

If you’re reading this, we applaud your stamina and fortitude, and we thank you for your readership and support! Come back for more content in 2023 and make sure to keep in touch – our inboxes are open! ( + By the way, we know you love Artblog like we do. Consider making a contribution to support us! Paypal or Check made out to TheArtblog Inc. and mailed to TheArtblog, 1107 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 are all Welcome!

A Very Happy New Year To You! From Julia, Roberta and Ilana