Last week, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. announced the finalists for its sixth Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Texas artists Rigoberto González, Mari Hernandez, Marianna T. Olague, and Vincent Valdez are among the forty-two selected artists.
The Outwin, a triennial competition and exhibition, was launched in 2006 using funds from the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment. The endowment was established by Mrs. Boochever (1920-2005), who served as a docent at the National Portrait Gallery for nearly two decades. Originally, the competition was open to painters, photographers, drawers, and sculptors, however, more recently it has grown to include performance artists and those working in time-based media.
This year, the jurors selected finalists from over 2,700 entries. The panel of jurors included curators from the National Portrait Gallery, artists, and scholars:
Taíana Caragol (Competition Director and Co-Curator, Curator of Painting Sculpture, and Latinx Art and History at the National Portrait Gallery)
Leslie Ureña (Competition Co-Curator, Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery)
Dorothy Moss (Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery and Coordinating Curator of Smithsonian’s Women’s History Initiative)
Kathleen Ash-Milby (Curator of Native American Art at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon)
Catherin Opie (artist, Professor of Photography and Chair of the Art Department at the University of California, Los Angeles)
Ebony G. Patterson (artist based in Chicago and Kingston, Jamaica)
John Yau (poet, critic, and Professor of Critical Studies at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Jersey)
Houston-based Vincent Valdez is one of four artists who were commended for their work and received a $1,000 prize. Mr. Valdez’s piece, People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana), is a portrait of the artist’s maternal grandparents.
The competition’s website shares this quote from the artist, “My grandparents spent most of their time outside. Grandpa spent his entire life working under the blazing Texas sun as a carpenter and yard worker, cutting lawns in the wealthy communities of San Antonio right up until he passed away. Grandma was constantly working with her hands—raising kids, washing, sewing clothes, and tending the plants in her yard.”
Rigoberto A. Gonzalez, from Edinburgh, Texas (just north of McAllen), is known for his large-scale paintings which depict issues related to the Mexico-U.S. border. He is currently a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
San Antonio-based photographer Mari Hernandez references cultural mores and art historical movements in her works. She is currently the Program Manager for Leadership Institutes & Convenings at NALAC.
Marianna T. Olague, based in El Paso, uses vibrant colors to paint portraits of friends and family living in the harsh conditions of a border city. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Although most prizes have already been awarded, the public is able to vote online for the People’s Choice Award through October 16, 2022. The winner will receive a $500 prize. Simply visit the website and click the “vote” button below a work of art. Votes can be made once daily.
The exhibition, The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today, is on view at the National Portrait Gallery through February 26, 2023.