Seattle-based sculptor and conceptual artist John Grade took home the $10,000 Arlene Schnitzer Prize at the culmination of the opening ceremonies for Portland Art Museum's second Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. PAM executive director Brian Ferriso announced the award to a packed crowd in PAM's sunken ballrom shortly after 7:30 pm on Saturday, June 18.  Arlene Schnitzer herself was to have announced the winner but telephoned Ferriso shortly before the ceremony commenced, saying she was not feeling well and asking him to make the announcement in her stead.

Grade was one of seven artists featured in the CNWAA exhibition and made a strong showing with his innovative sculptures, which draw upon the 1960s/70s tradition of Land Art. In particular, his massive sculpture, Fold, commands space with biomorphic curves broken into myriad hollow wooden boxes. This sensuosity of form, coupled with the oversize scale and Grade's solid conceptual grounding, placed him solidly among the frontrunners for the award, with strong competition from porcelain sculptor Chris Antemann. In addition to his sculptures, Grade's photographic documentation of past projects—and his haunting digital film of a boar hunt in France, La Chasse—gave his contribution to the show a multifaceted appeal. The exhibition is ably curated by PAM's curator of Northwest art, Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, in her inaugural outing as CNWAA curator.  

GO: Eyeball all the artists in the running for the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., 226-2811. Show closes Sept. 11. EndFragment