Home > Article > Glass Meets Road > Yet More Hunting

A few people have asked me my thoughts about this year’s Hunting Prize, I think because I wrote a long critique of it last year.

This is not what I want to write about. What I want to write about is Mel Ziegler and Daniel Adame and Kara Hearn and Stephen Vitiello, but I’m backed up.

So here is what I think about the Hunting Prize*:

I wasn’t able to attend the party this year, but I gather it was a sort of Palm-Beach-meets-Caligula throwdown with bronzed men in gold Speedos (again) and the awesome buffet that has become this party’s signature. I’m all for wild, excessive parties (though some part of me naggingly suspects it’s in questionable taste when the price of food/fuel is driving millions both at home and abroad into desperate circumstances, but then again I’m as much of a comfortable capitalist as the next person and I don’t want to get into the Stuffed and Starved politics of it at the moment). So it’s a big wild party, and that’s just fine.

I think the Hunting people think that the best way to support artists in an egalitarian way is to have a large list of finalists for their generous prize. They believe this approach achieves “diversity” because painters from all walks of life, geographic locations, etc. are included. 

They are wrong. It only makes the finalist list meaningless. More importantly, an art prize of $50,000 should have nothing to do with making sure everyone gets a psychological "I did my best" ribbon. It should be about one thing only: rewarding outstanding talent, which is a great and worthy endeavor.

There aren’t enough outstanding painters in Texas to fill an annual list of 120+ people. And so by trying to be something to everyone, the list ends up being a gray mish-mash that’s weighed down by lousy artists who have no business being there. If I were a Hunting Prize finalist, I wouldn’t include this information on my resume.

Until this critical aspect of the prize is changed, and the finalists are whittled down to 10 (or ideally 5) individuals, the Hunting Prize will never be what it could, and should be. And the art world will rightly pay little attention.

I did a studio visit with the winner, Wendy Wagner, after she won. I didn’t see any of her paintings, but I did see some works on paper with little ceramic shapes attached. They were her first stabs at a new medium and were very nice. Wagner is self-taught ceramicist and I think she has a real gift with it, and also with drawing and watercolor. I’m glad for her.


That’s it. As for the rest of it, the graphic design and the getting artists to hawk their wares at the party and the whole premise of giving a prize to painting in the first place… well, what can I say, except there’s room for improvement? 


*(And if you want to read more on the subject, Bill Davenport did a blog about it as well!) 




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9 Responses

  1. David O

    “There aren’t enough outstanding painters in Texas to fill an annual list of 120 people.”

  2. David O

    Chris Chappell
    Jessica Erickson
    Jeff Jefferies
    Phillip Trussell
    Christopher St Leger
    Ray Doneley
    Lory Shelton
    Ray Umscheid
    Charles Randolph
    Katrina Zarate
    Laura Maltz
    Chris Garcia
    Jessee Hall
    Amber Kappes
    Holly Fisher
    Katy O’Connor
    Brian Keeper

    ELP probably thought that they were really outstanding and that the Clash was meaningless.

  3. McArtist

    People’s ruffled feathers aside, i want to know, did they do the “second chance” standing in front of your art work evaluation again this year? and if so does that second chance involve sexual favors? Cause I think I might take a break from my regularly scheduled medium, and paint something next year just for this show….Because… Well, I’m really good with my hands….If you know what I mean.

  4. Rainey

    David O,

    I checked out each artist in your list individually, and without meaning to be cruel or to single anyone out, I wouldn’t consider the majority to be remotely close to outstanding, no. Brian Keeper’s work was new to me, and kind of interesting:

    I understand your desire to lift people up and compliment them on hard work — god knows, being an artist is a hard and lonely row to hoe, and anyone who keeps after it for a while deserves kudos for sheer grit — but I believe the Hunting Prize is not an award for grit, but for talent.

    You call it elitist. I agree. And if elitism is valuing and rewarding excellence, then it’s a very good thing.

  5. David O

    Those are all very talented artists, you just lack the ability to appreciate it. Elitist means you are tales from topographic oceans, and Jessica Erickson is the never mind the bullocks. It’s OK for you to miss the boat. Chappell is transcendent, you’re just too pompous to notice.


    Below is what I wrote to Rainey’s blog about the prize last year. I think it still rings true!
    ——-a quick note on this year’s blog —what she writes seems like the winner this year isn’t really a painter.UNTRUE. In 04 I saw WW’s show at Tom A’s New Gallery. Most of the pieces sold out, she did 10 small paintings(12″ x 12″ or so) and her large paintings looked almost exactly like the small ones in looseness and paint quality…. I was really impressed with her paintings–I’d say she is a painter.—-

    Though I feel a lot of points are valid the article promotes the elitism that is found in the visual arts.
    Just go to a gallery you’d like to show in and see the — NO SUBMISSION UNLESS WE ASK YOU TO —
    Curators and gallery dealers just don’t want to deal with the unknown. Click the winner of this year’s award and see they are showing in the Conduit Gallery. I knew their work looked familiar as I’ve looked at the Conduit Gallery on numerous occasions. If I could access the bio I’m sure they are represented in Houston, Austin and probably NYC. I’m not jealous of their hard work and winner status but to winnow down the competition is really not what this is all about. The “great-stamp-of approval” artist shouldn’t have to worry about us shunned ones beating them out anyway.
    Also the idea of having the artist work their piece sounds really good to me. It’d be great if all the Texas “A team” and “B team” gallery dealers would come and see the art, maybe they could open up to new fresh work and this this could be good for more than just one person.
    Texas Styled Hospitality. Oh I’m talking art world here. Oops.

    I’ve never entered the competition, but I’d like the chance for the Marfa Ballroom guy or the likes of Regine or any great gallery dealers to finally take time to look at my work.
    Maybe other shunned artists(nobodies) who approach “the making” professionally would not like the proposal by Rainey.


    It’s nice when you’re already plugged in to the social pipeline.

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