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VOTE NOW! The Inaugural New American Paintings Annual Prize: Reader’s Choice Poll by openstudiospress

New American Paintings Annual Prize: Reader’s Choice
For the first time in the 17 year history of the publication, we’re asking our readers who they think deserves some attention. We’re pleased to present the New American Paintings Annual Prize, including two components: a cash prize of $1,000 awarded to one Noteworthy artist featured this year, determined by a panel of seasoned curators, and a $500 gift certificate sponsored by BLICK Art Materials, with the winner decided by YOU, our reader! Take a look at all 12 of this year’s Noteworthy artists below and VOTE NOW!

Voting is open through January 7. The winner of the Reader’s Choice will be announced on Monday, January 17, and the winner of the Annual Prize will be announced Monday, January 31.


Matthew Bourbon

Matthew Bourbon, For Your Own Good | Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 inches

The compositions of Matthew Bourbon are filled with so many visual points of entry that it’s no surprise that the artist isn’t concerned with a single way of looking at things. Featured as a Noteworthy artist for edition #90, Bourbon uses narrative painting to think about multifaceted nature of storytelling, using fragmented and tonal spectrums to examine the nuances of human behavior. His half-abstract, half-representational images blend both the painting and the subject matter into one.

Joseph Cohen

Joseph Cohen, Proposition 138 | Reclaimed latex on walnut, 54 x 39 x 2 inches

Aligned with the Concrete painters that precede him, Joseph Cohen, featured in edition #90, is highly concerned with the fundamental elements of painting: color, form, and light. Made from used and discarded supplies returned to home improvement stores, Cohen’s works are less concerned with chromatic nature of the painting and rely more on the physical properties of paint itself. Like Robert Ryman, and artists like Joseph Marioni, Cohen’s works are unconcerned with picture-making and instead focus on the inherent characteristics (and possibilities) of paint itself.

Megan Dirks

Megan Dirks, Glass House Seamount | Oil on canvas, 72 x 96 inches

Featured in this year’s MFA Annual competition, edition #87, while an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa, Megan Dirks‘ work conflates notions of space with ideas of physical and implied limitations. Her abstractions, which pair seemingly vast environments with architectural structures, reflect an interest in the functions of the mind, the limits of the imagination, and the limitations of a creative practice that has endless possibilities.

Jim Gaylord

Jim Gaylord, Particulated Bronco | Gouache on paper, 26.5 x 40.25 inches

Featured in editions #43, #86, and the 2006 MFA Annual, Jim Gaylord makes work that moves. His abstracted forms are pulled from film stills, with colorful shapes and scenes skewed by painted flashes of movement, and his compositions hum with forms that refuse to settle into a single place. Constantly in flux between figuration and abstraction, Gaylord’s work evokes a great deal of action, aided in part by using still frames from action movies.

Vera Iliatova

Vera Iliatova, Excursion | Oil on canvas, 42 x 36 inches

The work of Vera Iliatova, also featured in edition #86, borrows stylistically from the past to create a new conversation about contemporary painting and the history of the medium itself. Depicted within landscapes that are wholeheartedly real and really artificial, Iliatova’s mysterious female subjects float in and out of her compositions like hanging memories; their poses taken from glossy magazines, film stills, and art history, effectively broadening an already engaging dialogue about current and historicized roles of women.

Annie Lapin

Annie Lapin, The Ssion | Oil on linen, 50 x 54 inches

Featured in the forthcoming edition #91, released this month, Annie Lapin straddles the line between figuration and abstraction in her work, conflating environmental scenes with rich painterly effects akin to the Abstract Expressionists. Lapin’s works never quite settle into a single thing, be it a form, a gesture, or even a color, constantly moving and taking new shape. Tiny fragments of a recognizable world emerge and recede, like fluid waves of representation and destruction, wrestling with meaning and the lack thereof at every possible turn.

Mike Nudelman

Mike Nudelman, It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This 8 (After F.E.C. Again) | Ballpoint pen on paper, 26 x 40 inches

Art has always been informed by that which preceded it, as is the case with the work of Mike Nudelman, whose rich, detailed compositions—made entirely with ballpoint pen—mimic mechanical and digital printing methods and reference generations of artists before him. Drawing from reproductions of pre-existing landscape paintings from the likes of Thomas Kinkade and others, and featured in edition #89, Nudelman’s works are both an original and a copy, a remarkable conceptual framework that yields exciting results.

Matthew Penkala

Matthew Penkala, Incomprehensible | Acrylic on canvas stretched panel, 60 x 60 inches

Featured in this month’s soon-t0-be-released edition, #91, Matthew Penkala creates works that are both highly reductive and highly interactive. Like Color Field paintings creeping slowly towards abstraction, Penkala’s works use the relationships of geometric forms to explore the physical space of his compositions. Each work presents a new chromatic sensation, as if the pigment here could convey a mood, capturing and dispersing light and color like the lens of a camera.

Chris Scarborough

Chris Scarborough, Untitled (Orbital Debris) | Graphite and watercolor on paper, 19 x 15 inches

Featured in editions #34, #46, #76, and #88, the work of Chris Scarborough is explosive. A ‘big bang’ scatters itself evenly across Scarborough’s practice, with compositional elements made up of several references—from art history to science fiction and real life—energetically bursting out from various figures like people and animals. Scarborough’s work gives physical, visual form to the cultural amalgamation of today’s global society; boundaries are both destroyed and remade in the same instant in his works, making for new cultural hybrids and new ways of thinking.

Ellen Siebers

Ellen Siebers, Christmas with the Voeglers | Oil on canvas, 48 x 39 inches

Ellen Siebers‘ work is a study of the varied and often complex relationships that exist between man, living things, and nature itself. Featured this year’s MFA Annual, edition #87, Siebers’ recent work explores the hidden narratives behind human subjects in both natural and man-made environments, with figures referencing explorers that the artist discovered while reading biographical accounts of the human and natural world colliding. In this way, Siebers herself is an explorer, revealing intimate dialogues about her own history with living things and those around her.

Amy Sherald

Amy Sherald, Well Prepared and Maladjusted | Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches

Featured in edition #88, Amy Sherald‘s work began as an exploration of the artist’s identity as an African-American woman, however her paintings speak just as much to the human condition as they do to her ethnic heritage. Each of Sherald’s figures, cast into a vibrating backgrounds of painterly effects, engages the viewer head on, very much in the same way that the artist uses portraiture to investigate both the human condition and Sherald’s ideas of “blackness.”

Bart Vargas

Bart Vargas, Paroxysm | Acrylic paint, epoxy resin on panel, 32 x 32 inches

The acrylic and resin on panel paintings of Bart Vargas explore fantastic geometric vortexes that expand outward in color and shape. Included in edition #89, Vargas’s works are vividly colorful, the materials used lend the paintings a highly sculptural quality. By freeing himself of the canvas and relying on panel, each work is more easily broken apart, sometimes literally in the form of several parts, with each fragment both reorienting the collective image and distorting at the same time.

Did you vote? Scroll back up and VOTE NOW!


61 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I also found the work of Keith Crowley #86 very intriguing and luminous.

Comment by Nancy Couch

Matthew Penkala is a jedi.

Comment by Darren McManus

maybe, but Darren McManus is the best of all!

Comment by michaelfrancis

There were other artists in the last years editions that I’d have liked to have voted for. Who got to pick the finalists?

Comment by M.C. Rohner

For every edition of New American Paintings, the edition’s juror and the NAP editorial staff each select one artist to be featured in a special Noteworthy spread of the magazine. For the prize, we selected each artist featured in the 6 editions in 2010 for the 12 nominees.

Comment by openstudiospress

I found none of these works to be noteworthy. Faced with a choice among them, Annie Lapin is better than the rest of them.

Comment by Steven DaLuz

How disappointing to see an artist make such a nasty comment about the work of other fellow artists. What a jerk.

Comment by Dr. Love

How the comment that none of the work is noteworthy make the writer a “jerk?” Nothing negative was said about the artists. This is what is wrong with art criticism today. People are afraid to say work is medicore, and, by and large, all of the work represented here is, at best, derivative and, at worst, banal. Many artists of greater vision and technical skill had work on the pages of NAP this year.

Comment by Robert

This is indeed the trouble in the at world. Everyone has their own opinion. I have to agree that of the works presented here I am hard pressed to choose a favorite. There were many other artist I truly enjoyed this year and these works were not among them. It would be interesting to see how the public would choose if we were allowed to choose from any of the artist that were lucky enough to be represented by New American Paintings.

Comment by Gwen Johnson

I still find it fascinating that with all that is going down in the world the jurors for these regions and for these finalists still refuse to acknowledge the socio/enviro/econ/relig/polit/natural landscapes and artists that are happening in real time upon the domestic and world stages every day. Or is it maybe these subject matters aren’t significant and bling enough for the cultural gatekeepers? Craig Cheply

Comment by Craig Cheply

WOW! Well said Craig!
I second that!

Comment by darren orange

I’ll 3rd that.

Comment by Steven DaLuz

Selections from a pool of applicants can hardly be understood as ‘refusing to acknowledge’ anything.

Keep in mind, these 12 jpegs represent only the artists they belong to and shouldn’t be understood as a representation of the full spectrum of subject matter (or talent) that makes its way into these juried editions. More importantly, these jurors are making selections only from the pool of painters that apply to each region, not from the entirety of emerging work in the country which would include extensive subject matter. They aren’t cultural gatekeepers, they’re jurors and they jury to their tastes.

Comment by openstudiospress

As a strong proponent of drawing and its impact on contemporary art, I take issue with your reference to all entrants as “painters”. I have seen many artist’s work in your magazine that would clearly be defined as drawing, and yet the tendency to refer to all artists as painters persists. Even the title of your publication, which I enjoy very much, continues to privilege painting over all else, even when your jurors select work that does not fall into even the broadest definition of painting. Why is this?

Comment by Deborah Rockman

Really? this coming from a landscape painter? hey man sorry not everything is cliche and about visual regurgitation. it is going to be okay.

Comment by cody

The only artist that I think is even remotely worthy of mention is Amy Sherrald. The rest of the work I find hackneyed and duplicitous. To even consider the other artists for an award, is a farce. I’ve seen better work by students at the academy.

Comment by Preston

Another jerk – what’s with you guys?

Comment by Dr. Love

Hear, hear! The jurors for this mag just don’t get it. Let us see the work before the jurors toss out the good work, then we can pick a viewer’s choice!

Comment by Steven DaLuz

really? care to explain that point about amy? what is your reason behind that beyond what you said? what does amy’s painting have that none of these others have? you can probably say… if you even have to ask this then you don’t get it. okay… what is there to get?

Comment by cody

Of these, Vargas…

Comment by Sydney McKenna

oooh golly, I’m (almost) glad my work isn’t up there, some very harsh critics!

Comment by Katie Taft

I take all my earlier comments back. I had not eaten, was grumpy, and generally disgruntled by past issues of the magazine. All these artists are equally deserving. My vote is meaningless, so I’ll leave that to the jurors who are steeped in academia and artistic political correctness.

Comment by Steven DaLuz

Craig has a point… and he’s a nice guy. Check out his paintings.
I don’t think a person is a “jerk” who is honest about their thoughts in regard to the quality of an artwork. If we don’t judge rightly how can we expect the public to do so. By the way, the jurors did make the same kind of judgments about many artworks that were not selected…they eliminated them.
The works above are very safe, academically competent, and will sell well somewhere. I would like to see the artwork of the judges. That usually tells one much about their visual eye.
I miss works that are “edgy” and “raw.”
What about some painting that is more challenging in execution (no pun intended) and content.

Comment by Gaylen

Sweet! Someone I know is here…and I would have voted for him anyway because I love his work, but you guys made it tough. Good selection.

Comment by Denise

Vera Iliatova isn’t just one of the best new painters of the Northeast, but of America, including the Canadian territories.

Comment by Chris

I’m with Chris. I love Vera Iliatova’s paintings.

Comment by Sarah

Her Use of color is a social commentary on what it means to be black in America. Frank Russell (A white guy)

Comment by Frank Russell

I know nothing of the New American Artist, but I did receive the invitation to vote, so I get not only to choose, but also to comment – and I’ve read all of the previous comments.

Mike Nudelman gets my vote. It is the only piece that touches MY conception of beauty. There is something to be said for composition, style, materials and execution in each of the others, but Mike has found something of the beauty that I look for when I look at a work of art.

Comment by Dave Dubé

Its seems strange to vote for just one artist out of so many (including others from past issues etc) Art is so subjective that this is almost an impossibility. Perhaps the voting should be prefaced by posing a question or presenting a theme, genre, or an all encompassing thought. ?

I choose Joseph Cohen because his work is advancing and intriguing, but I am just the beholder of the vote.

Comment by Alan Siggers

PS. In regards to the Joseph Cohen blurb (the “late Robert Ryman”): I believe that Robert Ryman is not dead. You can ask him.

Comment by matthew

It doesn’t say that, it says “LIKE ROBERT RYMAN…”

Comment by Jeffrey

Thank god, they only put 12 artists up there to choose from, it doesn’t really matter who’s the worst or the best. To be honest, I don’t give people’s choice much credit, Just read the comments. When left up to the people you get the sort of work that Komar and Melamid paint.

Comment by Jeremiah Johnson

It was difficult to decide which was the least bad of the whole group. Next time try to get judges whose main objective is to find that art should only represent the ugly and dark side of life to be good.

Comment by Sandra Baker-Hinton

The name of the monthly book is, “New American Paintings” Juried Art Exhibition in Print. Not everyone chooses, for a myriad of reasons, to take the risks, and face the opportunity to apply and be recognized, or not. It’s an extremely emotional and spiritual risk. BRAVO for those that do! BRAVO for the opportunity provided by the jurors to enhance the career of new talent in a field filled of marketing and pretense. These folks all put themselves on the line and NONE of them deserve the negativity expressed above. Life is about choices. There is NO need to share negativity, we get enough of it free already. This is a positive opportunity for a group of talented artists to be recognized, and for us to enjoy them.
Embrace it, appreciate the chance they all took, and pick one. It helps others take the risks to bring new art to the world, to express themselves, and to make the word a more colorful and sensitive place. We should all be that brave and fortunate!

Comment by richard Demato

Bravo Richard. It’s hard to understand people who don’t really look art unless it’s “pretty.” They should think about the conflicting points of perspective in Dirk’s work; the drawing skill in Scarborough’s, the hidden figures and vanishing points (as well as brushwork) in Lapin’s painting, the energy in Bourbon’s and consider whether they could produce anything as interesting, exciting, and thought-provoking, before going all negative.

Comment by Rachel

I totally agree! I love New American Paintings and think it is a great forum and opportunity for artists. We should be supportive of our fellow artists. Of course we are not going to love everyone’s work that is chosen but I certainly admire them just for putting themselves out there and taking steps to further their careers. It’s a tough way to make a living….

I do love Amy Sherald’s work- very well done.

Comment by Ellen Harper

Wonderful use of color

Comment by Jean Meisel

I find Megan Dirk’s art piece to be noteworthy… disregard the negative comments posted below. What jerks.

Comment by Marge Sienem

In the complete madness of the holidays, I am glad there are people out there that are willing to be passionate for the arts and particularly about paintings. I find this passion to be absent in my area of the country.

Comment by Jennifer Ivanovic

Megan Dirks is Phenomenal.

Comment by Zach

I did not like very many of these paintings, but the one that I did vote for was the only one that I did like. I am an artist myself but did not find these paintings very impressive.

Comment by Alta Sue Elledge

Yes – Megan Dirks was phenomenal. I think all of the criticism is just fine — people are saying what they think and that’s important — but I feel like I need to say that Megan was an amazing artist and a gifted human being, so that that’s “out here” on this forum, too. And we all miss her very much.

Comment by Lisa Johnson

Vera Iliatova’s works are important. She is the winner as far as I’m concerned, but Amy Sherald’s painting will endure as well.

Comment by Nora Noldon

please notify me about winner

Comment by cgranstrom

I might think differently if I saw these pieces in a gallery instead of on a computer screen, not of them strike me as remotely magic.This organization has chutzpa to ask their rejected applicants to vote for more money towards artists they already supported via their admission fees.

Comment by rita kilburne

While you are entitled to your opinion about the artwork, I would clarify that until this Annual Prize, we have never awarded a cash prize to artists selected for our magazine. Your fees go to the overall production and distribution of each magazine.

Comment by drewekatz

Get over yourselves and off your little soapboxes and just vote…babies!!

Comment by Maxine

These pay to play juried competitions seem a bit of scam. Artists are desperate and stupid enough to pay for a museum person to look at their reproductions. I would vote for the worst artist on this site but they each fail in their own too obvious ways.

Comment by Julianne

New American Paintings has been in the business of helping artists for over 16 years. Statements that imply we are a “scam,” are ill informed. Our competition process was designed to be as fair as possible and we stand by our belief that the project has continued for so long because of the competitive spirit in seeking out the best work. Of course, this type of model always excludes hundreds of equally deserving artists, but that is the nature of a competition. Our jurors (and our staff) could easily choose many more if they could. The entry fee is a necessary part of both funding this process and publishing a high quality book—we simply couldn’t exist without it. That is a simple fact of business. No one is getting rich at NAP. Our magazine is a labor of love—a love of art and a love of beautiful books—and we are proud to provide deserving artists an avenue to reach a wider audience. We hope that the new Annual Prize will be a fun and useful gift to a fortunate one, of many, deserving artists.

Comment by openstudiospress

I’ve just gotten pounded by a slew of comment emails from here by people who don’t understand juried competitions. Competition encourages excellence. Submission fees pay for the existence of opportunities for artists that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I direct a very intense, progressive regional juried exhibit in the SE. The fees pay for the $4,000 of artist awards. We have sponsors to cover everything else. Oh-almost forgot. I receive no pay. Most of these events are break-even, or provided by museums, galleries, and art centers that are non-profits. It is all about the art and artist. If you get cut-study what gets in. Intensely. Learn from that. Research the juror first. Submit appropriately. You’ve just upped your odds. If you’ve got a BFA or MFA, you should be able to deal with rejection and criticism already, and understand it is all part of the process, and never take it personally.

Comment by Denise

I suggest googling the artists. It’s hard to get much of a feel for the work from one jpeg. All of them look better from a larger sample. They are all at least pretty good and have points of view and ideas. One of them is deceased, having succumbed to lung cancer at age 25.

A jury that makes judgments (such as this one) is not presenting a “vanity show.” The entry fee is not high and does not guarantee acceptance.

Comment by David Taylor

It is absolutely fantastic that these artists have an opportunity to receive money! All are winners, and the fact that an organization (Open Studios Press) has to charge entry fees is because our American tax dollars are spent wrong. I can not at this time afford the entry fee, but have applied twice in past years, and am happy to see that Open Studios Press is putting that money back into art, and living artists! Congratulations to all.

Comment by kara rane

& Megan Dirks truly is “living” –

Comment by kara rane

i am glad to see so many great works together !

Comment by Caio Fern

I enjoyed viewing all of the artists’ larger bodies of work via Google (one work is not enough to represent accurately), regardless of my personal opinion of each. Now that it’s been established that “NAP” is a misnomer, I’d love to see more sculpture included.

Comment by Cynthia Scott

It is exciting to see the work of these artists receiving notice. As always it is hard to choose among so much creativity. Among this group of talented people, Annie Lapin continues to evolve as one of the most interesting artists on the American scene.

Comment by Laurence Corash

I concur! one image is never enough to get a sense of the artist’s intentions or connect to the work. I had the opportunity to see an Annie Lapin’s painting in Los Angeles about five years ago and it was incredible.
Also this whole negative idea of most painting today being derivative I can agree less, the strategy to desperately trying to figure out how to make paintings do something new that never has been done before, please…I believe and see painting more as a practice than anything, this is ultimately what has sustained it for so long after the ‘Death of Painting.’ Which I don’t buy either!!

Comment by Daniela Campins

LOVE Ellen Siebers’ work !
There’s so much great work besides “Christmas with the Voeglers” shown above. Check out “Regeneration of Hair”, “Nature Fakers” as well as her works on paper.
She kicks a** !
Beautiful work!!
Check out her website:

Comment by guido

[…] The New American Paintings Readers Choice Poll [art poll] […]

Pingback by Visual Bits #8 > So Bright, You Need Shades

Really great work on the whole. Experimental and psychological, from my point of view. One highlight was Jim Gaylord, Particulated Bronco. It stunned me at first sight.

Comment by Giuseppe Ragozzino


Comment by Harriet Wise

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