The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced artist Hugo Crosthwaite as the first-prize winner of the fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Crosthwaite is the first Latinx artist to receive this prestigious award since the national competition was founded in 2006. His prize-winning stop-motion drawing animation, “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez” (2018), recounts a woman’s journey from Tijuana, Mexico, to the United States in pursuit of the American dream. It will be on view in the exhibition “The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today,” which features nearly 50 portraits by the finalists of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Held every three years, the competition encourages artists living and working in the U.S. to submit works that challenge the definition of portraiture. This year’s competition received more than 2,600 submissions from 14 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Selected by a blind jury based on artistic merit, the featured works reflect the state of contemporary portraiture in the U.S. and will be on view in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 26. through Aug. 30, 2020, before traveling to up to four venues across the U.S.
“‘The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today’ features intimate depictions of individuals whose remarkable stories are rooted in the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Kim Sajet, director, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. “Nearly all of the leading national conversations from the past three years—immigration, the rights of workers, climate change, and the impact of racial violence—are presented here on a personal level. It is a moment to stop, look around, and admire the tenacity and beauty of the American spirit through portraiture.”
As winner of the first prize, Crosthwaite, a resident of San Diego, will receive $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection. Previous first-prize winners are David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013) and Amy Sherald (2016). Second prize was awarded to Sam Comen of Los Angeles, who submitted the photograph “Jesus Sera, Dishwasher” (2018). Third prize, a tie, was awarded to both Richard Greene of Los Angeles for his photograph “Monroe, LA” (2016) and Wayde McIntosh of Brooklyn, New York, for his painting “Legacy” (2017). This year’s commended artists are Natalia García Clark of Los Angeles and Mexico City for her video “Self-Portrait” (2017); Lauren Hare of Portland, Oregon, for her photograph “Secrets” (2017); and Adrian Octavius Walker of Oakland, California, for his photograph “Black Virgin Mary” (2018).
One exhibiting artist will also win the People’s Choice Award, which will be announced in May 2020. In this part of the competition, visitors to the exhibition, both at the museum and online, will be able to cast a vote for their favorite finalists.
“The Outwin 2019” is co-curated by the Portrait Gallery’s Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture and performance art, and Taína Caragol, curator of painting and sculpture and Latinx art and history. This year’s exhibition addresses themes of socio-political relevance, including immigration, Black Lives Matter, urban youth, the status of American workers, gun violence and LGBTQ+ rights. The work spans a variety of media and includes performance art for the first time with the debut of Sheldon Scott’s “Portrait, number 1 man (day clean ta sun down)” (2019). In tribute to the hours worked by his enslaved ancestors in South Carolina, Scott will perform from sunrise to sunset every day from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 except Sunday. Visitors will be able to witness the performance during museum hours from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is directed by Moss. Jurors for the 2019 Competition include Harry Gamboa Jr., artist, writer and co-director of the program in photography and media at the California Institute of the Arts; Lauren Haynes, curator of contemporary art at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Byron Kim, artist and senior critic at the Yale School of Art; and Jefferson Pinder, artist and professor of sculpture and contemporary practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Portrait Gallery’s curators Caragol, Moss and Chief Curator Brandon Brame Fortune also served on the committee.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog, available at the museum’s store or online.
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is made possible by the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, established by Virginia Outwin Boochever and continued by her children.
More info at npg.si.edu