Deborah Lawrence, Eighty Words, 2014, paper and fabric collage, acrylic, varnish on canvas, 41.25 x 3 4.5 inches.
Deborah Lawrence, Eighty Words, 2014, paper and fabric collage, acrylic, varnish on canvas, 41.25 x 3 4.5 inches. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

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For almost 40 years now, the Betty Bowen Awards have been spotlighting emerging Pacific Northwest artists and giving them money – an unrestricted cash award amount of $15,000, to be exact (and up to two $2,500 Special Recognition Awards that may also be granted).

This year, five finalists were announced – out of 517 applications from visual artists living in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho (up significantly from last year). Here’s some more fun facts: four out of the five artists are Seattle-based, four out of the five are female-identified, and this year, there’s a healthy diversity of mediums – from large-scale installations to intricate collage works and textile-based collaborative performances.

Here’s the list of all the finalists:

Jono Vaughan, Documentation of Project 42, performance by Anna Conner at the Henry Art Gallery,  2016, Commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington
Jono Vaughan, Documentation of Project 42, performance by Anna Conner at the Henry Art Gallery, 2016, Commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington JONATHAN VANDERWEIT

Jono Vaughan designed dresses based on Google Earth images of places where trans women have been murdered for a powerful series, called Project 42, and then collaborated with artists and dancers to ‘perform’ the dresses and honor each slain individual in a movement-based piece.

Deborah Lawrence, Eighty Words, 2014, paper and fabric collage, acrylic, varnish on canvas, 41.25 x 3 4.5 inches.
Deborah Lawrence, Eighty Words, 2014, paper and fabric collage, acrylic, varnish on canvas, 41.25 x 3 4.5 inches. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Deborah Faye Lawrence was the recipient of Artist Trust’s 2015 Twining Humber Award, a lifetime achievement award for female artists age 60 and over, for good reason. The accomplished artist makes collages that explode with cut up newspaper letters and found images that create a playful and satirical mashup of feminism, social commentary and political potency.

Klara Glosova, Oceanic Feeling, from the series Life on the Sidelines, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 x  1.5.
Klara Glosova, Oceanic Feeling, from the series Life on the Sidelines, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 48" x 1.5". COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Klara Glosova, 2015’s Stranger Genius Award Nominee in Visual Art, was the mastermind behind the ever-amazing NEPO 5K art walk/experience, which led art-lovers and hapless passers-by down a path of installations, sculptures, and performances that stretched from the International District to Beacon Hill. And her series, Life on the Sidelines, turned ordinary “soccer mom” moments into thoughtfully rendered, peaceful watercolor compositions.

Ko Kirk Yamahira, Untitled, 2017, acrylic, pencil, unweaved, deconstructed on canvas, 67 x 45.5 x 0.
Ko Kirk Yamahira, Untitled, 2017, acrylic, pencil, unweaved, deconstructed on canvas, 67" x 45.5" x 0". COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Ko Kirk Yamahira's process may very well be: rinse, deconstruct, repeat. His 'unweaved', shredded canvases are a striking, emotionally-charged use of what most artists choose to just paint on. You still have time to catch Yamahira and fellow Bowen Award nominee Jono Vaughan at Soil Gallery’s Seven Bodies – the exhibit runs until September 2.

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Tannaz Farsi, Points of Departure, 2017, installation.
Tannaz Farsi, Points of Departure, 2017, installation. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Tannaz Farsi is a cross-disciplinary artist in Eugene, Oregon who makes large-scale installations that center around "nationhood, diasporic identity, and colonialist legacies." I've never seen her work but now I want to - the dramatic placement of objects on the wall and mind twisting, three dimensional lines seem at once anthropological and personal.

The Betty Bowen Award is administered by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and the Betty Bowen Committee, chaired by Gary Glant. The recipient will be chosen in September.

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