Founded as a tribute to the life and work of artist Robert E. "Ned" Behnke in 1996, the two winners will receive $30,000 in unrestricted funds each—an increase of $5,000 from last year. The six runners-up will get $2,000, and all finalists will participate in a show at UW's Jacob Lawrence Gallery in March 2021 (fingers crossed that we have a flatter COVID curve by then).
Seattle Art Museum's Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Priya Frank, artist and co-curator of yəhaw̓ Asia Tail, and Miguel Guillén of ArtsWA, served as the 2020 Local Jurors.
“I feel so excited and proud for the choices we made when selecting the eight finalists," said Frank in a statement. "All exceeded the criteria, and I was touched by the ways they express their talents in such profound and inspiring ways that allow us to see the beauty and humanity in art as a reflection of life."
The eight finalists are split into two categories: painting and open media.
In the painting category, barry johnson (the painter behind the "E" in the Black Lives Matter mural on E Pine), "Plague of Healing" artist Carol Rashawnna Williams, Maya Milton, and Stranger Fall 2018 Arts & Performance cover star Anthony White will compete against one another for a $30,000 prize.
In the open media category, we see a lot of familiar faces—Hanako O'Leary (I wrote about her fantastic show at Magnuson Park Gallery last year), Kimisha Turner (whom I recently covered for In Lieu Of Exhibit Space and the brain behind the "B" in the Black Lives Matter mural on E Pine), Marilyn Montufar (whose photography graces the outside of the Frye Art Museum), and Tariqa Waters (a Stranger favorite who recently opened a show at Bellevue Arts Museum) are in the running for the other hefty prize.
The winners from each category—announced in February—will be chosen by Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University curator Amber Esseiva. Check out more information about each artist and the award itself here.