TO THE EDITOR: On behalf of the board and staff of Artist Trust, congratulations to The Stranger for taking the bold step to implement the Stranger Genius Awards. And a warm thanks to Emily Hall for pointing to Artist Trust as a model for artist support in the region and across the country.
As an organization that has been in the business of recognizing genius for over 16 years now, we at Artist Trust are well aware of the impact such awards have on the careers of both emerging and established artists. We hear time and again that the money is wonderful and allows artists to accomplish work they wouldn't normally be able to tackle. The recognition, however, is almost as important--it provides validation to those artists to keep on with their creative endeavors.
What a wonderful world it would be if every media outlet and business made a small effort to recognize the geniuses among us whose work graces our world with dances, plays, sculptures and literature. The Stranger has shown that it truly cares about this community and our artists!
Edie Adams, Chair
Barbara Courtney, Executive Director, Artist Trust
LEO SAUL BERK
TO THE EDITOR: We would like to nominate Leo Saul Berk for the visual artist Genius Award. Leo recently completed an installation as part of the Bellevue Art Museum's Nest series, providing an interesting and insightful (as well as beautiful) commentary on Stephen Holl's museum building.
Leo has an opportunity to do another project at California State University, Long Beach. This is a fantastic opportunity for him! Unfortunately, Leo's projects are intensely time-consuming, in terms of both planning and execution. It makes him a fabulous artist, but also keeps him from producing more easily salable work. Leo has support in the local collector community, but what he needs most desperately is money to buy the time necessary to take full advantage of this opportunity. From our reading, that is just what the Stranger Genius Awards are established to recognize and deliver.
Thank you for establishing this grant program to benefit local artists. We appreciate The Stranger's commitment to local art, both through this program and through its continuing coverage of Seattle-area art shows and events.
Aileen & Ben Krohn
When I read about the grant in The Stranger last week, I finally had some hope that I would get the assistance I need to follow my dream of becoming a professional wrestler. I know I can succeed--I have the talent, I just need the money to access the opportunity. [With the money,] I can go down to Mexico City to compete in lucha libre, which is some of the most intense wrestling in the world. I know I have the ability to compete down there. I am fast and agile for my size. Also, as a "gringo," I'll stick out like a sore thumb, which would give me a good foundation to be a bad guy.
Please consider me. I WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN.
MATT WILKINS, STEFAN GRUBER, RACHEL LORDKENAGA
TO THE EDITOR: I would like to suggest taking a moment to consider the following filmmakers who, in my opinion, are creating unique bodies of artistically significant work and have an interest in staying in the Northwest:
Matt Wilkins: narrative filmmaker whose prior short films include Interior Latex. Currently he is finishing his feature film Buffalo Bill's Defunct. His narrative films portray sincere relationships and celebrate the hardships of cross-generational lives. Clips of his current feature are viewable at www.sisyphusproductions.com.
Stefan Gruber: animator whose prior work includes Thought City and Leashlessness. Currently he teaches animation for youth at Nova [Alternative High School]. His work is loosely abstract and always fully realized. His Flash work is viewable at www.stefangruber.com.
Rachel Lordkenaga: experimental filmmaker whose prior work includes the short films Eating My Words and Afraid of the Dark. Currently she is producing a documentary with Japanese WWII interns. Her work is daring and organic. Each film is an exploration in moving images, as she approaches filmmaking as a painter. Clips of her work are viewable at www.powerfulpussycat.com.
Dave Hanagan, Studio Director
Northwest Film Forum
Troy Mink has been working in Seattle's theater scene for years now, doing improv and comedy and original one-person shows. Because so much of his focus is comedy, I think people don't take his artistry as seriously as is warranted. Mink has the extraordinary ability to transform himself into another character with such passion and detail and warmth. I see about 40 solo shows a year, and very, very few come even close to the caliber of work that Troy Mink does.
DAVE BROWN, AGAIN
GENIUSES: This is Dave Brown again. Please believe me when I tell you how much I deserve that grant. I put myself through a lot of physical abuse just for the sake of art. If you gave me the grant, you would not be disappointed. When I'm a huge success in the pro-wrestling industry (which I will be if I just get the backing--I have a lot of talent, I just lack the resources to exploit its full potential) I will be very public about how The Stranger was good enough to give me a grant so I could follow my dream.
DEAR STRANGER: I notice that you don't have a specific choreographic category in your Stranger Genius Awards. Not surprising given your tendency to ignore the vibrant, burgeoning dance scene in Seattle. Nonetheless, I nominate choreographer Amii LeGendre for the Stranger Genius Award, presumably in the theater category. Amii has a unique personal voice, a passionate commitment to the process of art-making, and a foundation of artistic integrity. I think she is worthy of your award.
TO THE EDITOR: I'm writing to praise the work of Crispin Spaeth. Crispin has thrived in Seattle for the past eight or nine years. She's been able to assemble a group of imaginative, friendly, risky, and kickass- talented people to inhabit the spontaneous and lushly ferocious fictions she proposes for the stage. Give her $5,000. And then watch what happens.
I'm writing to say that Sam Trout should definitely be one of your Genius Award winners! Sam is an amazing artist whose work is interesting, intelligent, and captivating. He really has an original style. He also is devoted to helping other artists promote their work and take it to the next level. You should check out the site for his latest enterprise promoting Seattle artists, www.iheartrummage.com. It really demonstrates his talent, entrepreneurial skills, and dedication.
I would like to nominate Chris Jeffries for the Genius Award. Chris Jeffries most recently won a Theatre LA Ovation Award (with Jillian Armenante and Alice Dodd) for Laura Comstock's Bag-Punching Dog at Circle X Theatre in Los Angeles. He has lived in Seattle since 1988 and for most of that time has been associated with Annex Theatre, at which he developed several of his most distinctive original musicals, including I See London, I See France; The Glory Booty Club; and The Fatty Arbuckle Spook House Revue.
I have worked with Mr. Jeffries in the capacity of actor, playwright, producer, director, and choreographer for 15 years, and I cannot think of a finer candidate.
DAVE BROWN, FOR THE THIRD TIME
My name is Dave Brown and this is my third plea for assistance. I'm not sure exactly what category I would fall into, if it would be performance art or theater art or whatever it is. All I know is, I'm willing to put my body on the line just to entertain. I wonder how many musicians and artists are willing to bleed and get broken bones for the sake of their art.
I deserve that grant more than anyone and I hope you can realize this. When people pay their $5 to watch me get my ass kicked, they feel good about themselves. They can forget about Bush, they can forget about their shitty jobs and their asshole bosses--all that frustration can be focused on me. That's why I think pro wrestling is valuable to the community, and why I deserve the grant.