James Busby has won the 701 CCA Prize Competition. The winner was announced Thursday.
Modeled after the Turner Prize, Britains high-profile visual art competition, the inaugural 701 CCA Prize is a biennial award established to recognize a South Carolina artist 40 years old or younger. From 19 applicants, the finalists were selected in a multistep adjudication process by a three-person jury: Lilly Wei, a New York-based art critic and curator; Paul Bright, the director of the Hanes Gallery at Wake Forest University; and Karen Watson, the Sumter County Gallery of Art director.
Busby's work includes geometric, high-gloss forms. The other nominees were Jim Arendt, for his figures cut from denim; and Tonya Gregg, for her chromatic social narratives.
The winner receives a six-week paid residency at 701 CCA, a solo exhibition, consultation services and an ad in a national publication. The exhibition of the three finalists work, which opened Nov. 1, runs through Dec. 16. An exhibition catalogue will be released tonight.
Wim Roefs, 701 CCAs executive director, intends for the award and celebration to generate excitement about good art. But its also a method to provide recognition and exposure for the states young artists.
Eventually, we want to be in a situation where people who are good artists, who are seriously working on a career, want this prize or want to compete in this prize, he said. Not just because the prize itself might look good on their resume but because they know its a great platform to have their work shown.
Dylan Critchfield-Sales, the current 701 artist-in-residence, will open a show of his work in the 701 CCA loft.
Roefs said the process worked beautifully.
I think that they picked three artists who are all three very, very good, who I think would rise to the top in any setting of the United States, in any state where there would be a competition like that, he said. I think that these three artists really reach a level that would make anybody involved with this comfortable with the winner.
Busbys nonobjective paintings have already made an impact on the national arts scene. All but one of his pieces sold at his September exhibition at the Kravets|Wehby gallery in New York. A previous show at New Yorks Stux Gallery sold out.
Busbys stuff is amazing, and its no coincidence that he is successful, Roefs said.
In the exhibition catalogue, Wei wrote that Busby is an artist of elegant, meticulously crafted geometric forms.
She continued, Part relief, part painting, sometimes three-dimensional, of gesso, graphite and acrylic burnished to a high gloss, they are sophisticated interpretations of an updated formalism.
Arendt, the director of Coastal Carolina Universitys Rebecca Randall Bryan Gallery, is a trained painter. Of late, he has been using textiles assemblages as his artistic medium. The denim pieces look very much like portraits.
In one, Meghann, a womans decorative shirt is composed of the snap buttons found on jeans.
It looks like theres paint involved, but there really is not, Roefs said. These things are just amazing. Its hard to believe theres no paint involved.
During an interview at 701 CCA last week, Roefs noticed that fabric from one of Arendts pieces was detached from the wall. He used a hammer and nail to put it back into place, a solution Arendt had suggested. It was another example of denims durability.
Arendts pieces are also conceptual.
This is where content and form comes together perfectly, Roefs said. Because this is about his family, a family who was a farming family.
Denim is a blue collar as it gets.
Gregg, who has taught at Benedict College and Coppin State University, paints alluring images of black women that beguile at closer inspection.
Shes a superb painter, Roefs said. But shes also somebody who thinks hard and long about what it is that she wants to say with her paintings and then how she can say it. She labors over that quite a bit.
On first glance, the bright colors enchant, but they also serve as an invitation to engage in the story within. The work isnt just eye candy the viewer realizes upon seeing other things a grenade, cupcake, fire existing in the paintings.
There is a whole narrative going on that is certainly up for debate or ambiguous, but clearly there, Roefs said. Theres clearly something there that goes beyond a beautifully painted painting of a colorful scene.
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.