Sarah Bergmann may have just pulled out from dark horse to something closer to the lead, if you're a betting woman. (And you know, this is Slog, and The Arts, so we're talking sciencefacts here.) Just this afternoon, Bergmann has been hailed as the winner of this year's Betty Bowen Award, the prestigious annual prize administered by Seattle Art Museum (it's not quite the museum itself giving the award, but close; the committee includes the museum's modern and contemporary art curator*). The prize comes with $15,000.
The other finalists for the Betty Bowen were Seattle's Claudia Fitch, and Mike Bray, Akihiko Miyoshi, and Michelle Ross from Oregon. In addition to supporting Bergmann (obviously), I'm also partial to the work of Fitch and Bray. Bray once made a show inspired by The Shining that I loved; he's also made terrific shows with Ditch Projects, including this one (with a video by Jesse Sugarmann that killed me).
Fitch, I've been meaning to point out here on Slog, just finished a show at Portland Art Museum this summer (I realize this is unhelpful to you now, and I apologize). She's the one who made this and this and this, too.
As for Bergmann, she's the creator of Pollinator Pathway, a mile-long landscape-painting/garden that runs across the middle of the city of Seattle like a sweet-smelling skunk stripe. (See about it here.)
Her competitors for the Genius Award are the also-fierce Dan Webb and Amanda Manitach.
Who knows how it's going to go? Will the judges—all the past Genius winners in every category plus Stranger arts editors—be swayed against Bergmann now that she's also got the Betty Bowen? Are these judges (except me) rigorously sequestering themselves this very minute so that they can avoid hearing this news and its potentially distracting sidebarism? Will there be a fight onstage at the Moore? WILL THERE?
We will find out Saturday night, September 22! I have my dress. Get yours.
*Also on this year's Betty Bowen committee was 2003 Betty Bowen winner Dan Webb—one of the three Genius finalists. The intrigue! Did he support giving Bergmann the Betty Bowen so he could have a better shot at the Genius? DEVIOUSNESS?! THE DRAMA.