New American Paintings/Blog

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

Our final New American Paintings’ issue of 2011 is out on newsstands, so it’s once again time to ask our readers who they think deserves some extra attention. We are pleased to present the New American Paintings’ Second Annual Prize, which includes two components:

  1. $1,000 cash prize and a $500 gift certificate, sponsored by BLICK Art Materials, will be awarded to one of New American Paintings‘ 12 Noteworthy artists featured this year. The winner will be determined by a panel of distinguished curators (Stay tuned  to learn more about our panel soon).
  2. $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 after the jump and VOTE NOW!

Thanks to our sponsor Next Art Chicago, the two winners will also be prominently displayed at the Next Art Chicago fair at the Merchandise Mart, April 27th – April 29th, 2012.

Voting is open through January 7 (one vote per computer)

The winner of the Reader’s Choice will be announced by Friday, January 13th, and the winner of the Annual Prize will be announced January 20.


William Betts – Editor’s Pick

William Betts | Untitled, Miami International Airport, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 70 inches

The recent paintings of William Betts are—at once—both a copy and an original. Using technology-based, industrial production methods, Betts manipulates surveillance video stills from the Miami International Airport to incredible effect and immense scale. Effectively engaged with technology and the documented image, and the nature of their structural and social makeup, Betts’ paintings are surgically precise investigations into the meaning behind specific collections of color, a curiosity that propels additional bodies of the artist’s work. With each engineered and painted pixel, Betts further unravels these organizational constructs until the implications of data and chromatic specificity become synonymous with social understanding and meaning. – New American Paintings


Joe Bussell – Juror’s Pick

Joe Bussell | Silver Series, gouache, acrylic, and archival tape, 11 x 14 inches

When I think about painting, I often remember Yves-Alain Bois’ question: “Can one think in painting as one can dream in color?” Joe Bussell’s work in particular recalled this poetic dichotomy for me. Bussell navigates the language of painting so gracefully in his work that one cannot help but be struck by the lusciousness of his precisely orchestrated pools of color and subtle graphic counterpoints. He seems to revel in the liquidity of his medium. Each work operates as a kind of haiku of color and composition, offering moments of carefully nuanced intersections of form and texture that communicate a palpable range of emotions and references. – Cassandra Coblentz


Jeremy Couillard – Editor’s Pick

Jeremy Couillard | Company Jet, acrylic on canvas over panel, 48 x 48 inches

In the early 20th century, a group of painters working under the umbrella of an artistic and social movement known as Futurism attempted to give visual form to a world that was being rapidly altered and accelerated by an overload of new technology. A century later, we find ourselves coming to terms with information overload, and it is not surprising that an increasing number of artists are interested in addressing this situation through their work. Jeremy Couillard’s maximal paintings put forth such a glut of visual information that they—by their very facture—offer a visual analog to what we collectively experience on a daily basis. There is something both inviting and disturbing about the spaces that Couillard invites us into; his paintings teasingly suggest that we can somehow find order in chaos, but simultaneously thwart any attempt to do so. – New American Paintings


Marcus Jansen – Juror’s Pick

Marcus Jansen | Creeping Obstacles in Kansas, oil enamel collage on canvas, 90 x 135 inches

There is something distinctly apocalyptic about Marcus Jansen’s paintings, which characteristically depict interiors that have been opened to the outside, often by way of an absent or partly shattered ceiling, but also by an ambiguous depiction of space itself. The rooms in his pictures are blocked in with slab-like planes of paint, which often seem to dwarf the solitary figure huddled inside. Very often the viewer has the impression that multiple spaces are crowded into one frame, vying for attention while also partly canceling each other out. What holds the compositions together are their strongly rectilinear structures, as well as the artist’s expressionistic paint handling. Through this combination of the familiar and the impossible, Jensen suggests a future in which all of the creature comforts that we take for granted may end up collapsing before our eyes. – Dan Cameron


Marcus Kenney – Editor’s Pick

Marcus Kenney | The Return of Metacom, mixed media on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

A native of rural Louisiana, Marcus Kenney’s multidisciplinary practice clamors with a diverse material explosivity evocative of the syrupy richness of the Deep South. His recent paintings retain the busy optical intensity of his three-dimensional assemblages, which seem to operate as both sculptures and shamanistic altars to the magical detritus of back swamp Georgia. Based in Savannah, Kenney uses found materials to create his mixed media paintings and collages, siphoning muted narratives of spirituality, redemption, loss, and temporality through cartoon-like characters and compositions. Like the nature of his reclaimed materials, his works speak to an unspoken folkloric sumptuousness that carries with it a multitude of histories, both humorous and dark. – New American Paintings


Erik Parker – Juror’s Pick

Erik Parker | Think Twice, mixed media on canvas, 52 x 42 x 3.75 inches

A Texan by birth and a student of the great American master of painterly social commentary, Peter Saul, Parker has developed a unique figurative language that draws on Saul’s inspired grotesqueries and psychedelic palette, but also comics and 1960s graphic design as seen on album covers and posters. In the past, Parker incorporated words into his highly detailed compositions in a manner that recalled medieval book illumination. His recent work retains this connection to illustration and to vernacular art forms. The incorporation of the illustrative and the unashamed inspiration of popular art are hallmarks of American painting at the turn of the century, and Parker’s works demonstrate these tendencies with a liveliness and humor that belie their compositional complexity. – Laura Hoptman


Erin Payne – Juror’s Pick

Erin Payne | Just my Lucky, acrylic and oil on canvas, 84 x 109 inches

Realistically rendered heaps of fabric are incongruously, inexplicably dropped into a naturalistically painted landscape in Erin Payne’s series of images—fabric that is itself painted so as to be both faithful to conventions of representation and also colorfully, exuberantly abstract. Lovely drips turn convincing three-dimensional illusion into passages of pure paint and pattern in a way that appeals to my love for color, fabric, and absurdity. There seems to be a narrative here, or some tongue-in-cheek conceptual project of inserting piles of fabric into a variety of situations, but the purpose is ultimately purely visual, as is the “action” apparently depicted. I am tempted to jump right into these pictures. – Randi Hopkins


Josh Reames – Editor’s Pick

Josh Reames | Hyperbox, acrylic and cardboard on canvase, 40 x 32 inches

Josh Reames operates with a spatial sensibility that would make some sculptors jealous. An MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Reames turns painting on its head, effectively making each work a bona fide object that is not only immediately reverent to its materials, but which also carries with it a sharp, witty dialogue about the properties of—and relationship between—paint and paper. Echoing the chromatically restrained painterly devices of Robert Ryman, Reames’ works are three-dimensional hybridizations of image and object, extending well beyond the spatial confines traditionally set forth by the painting medium. They occupy a necessary place in this current moment in contemporary painting, where sculptural forms continue to reveal remarkable painterly qualities. – New American Paintings


Daniela Rivera – Editor’s Pick

Daniela Rivera | Reina Sofia Wall #1, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

Rivera’s Accidental Memling Gul (oriental rug), featured in the 2010 James & Audrey Foster Prize exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, is one of the most incredible paintings I’ve seen this year—not for its incredible scale (which certainly doesn’t hurt), but for its subtle, unexpected brilliance. What at first appears as a custom cut oriental carpet on a large suspended canvas is in fact an explosive splatter of paint in the exact pattern of a Turkish rug. Rivera’s work is highly experiential and often informed by cultural histories and the exhibition space in which it’s featured, conflating the utilitarian use of paint with surprising application and exceptional wit. – New American Paintings


Brion Nuda Rosch – Editor’s Pick

Brion Nuda Rosch | Snake Face, acrylic on found book page, 9 x 6 inches

The abstraction in the collages and found paper paintings of Brion Nuda Rosch takes on not only a material form but is ultimately a kind of perceptive abstraction. Marrying disparate images from found book pages with a vernacular of collage, color blocking, and sharply abbreviated painterly gestures, Rosch elevates the mundane to its highest possible form with minimal effort. Occasionally installed on tall pedestals, these newly formed monuments to the commonplace are imbued with formalist structures and value that would not otherwise be assigned to his materials. Rosch’s works are at once banal and extraordinary, revealing that spatial undertakings in physical abstraction don’t necessarily require a third dimension for maximum impact. – New American Paintings


Maja Ruznic – Juror’s Pick

Maja Ruznic | Self Portrait as Emotional Trash Can, mixed media on paper, 8 x 8 inches

I am struck by the rawness and honesty of Maja Ruznic’s paintings. Their intimate scale belies their powerful punch, each portrait a study of the intricacies of the human psyche. Working on paper with wet pigments provides a sense of immediacy and spontaneity to the work, and Ruznic is adept at punctuating her imagery with moments of color that are both seductive and almost alarming. The masked face in Self Portrait as the Mother of All Evil is initially disturbing, but this feeling is quickly followed by a sense of affinity, as the awareness that we all wear different masks throughout our lives (indeed, throughout the day) sets in. The artist describes her subjects as “those who live along the interstices of society—homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes, derelicts, and vagabonds” and yet these absorbing characters do not feel like outsiders. We can see ourselves reflected in her portrayals. – Anne Ellegood


Ann Toebbe – Juror’s Pick

Ann Toebbe | Washing the Windows, 2010, gouache and oil on panel, 24 x 30 inches

I’m fascinated by Ann Toebbe’s meticulously detailed paintings, collages, and drawings of domestic interiors that depict space from multiple viewpoints simultaneously. With an aesthetic that recalls elements of Russian icon painting, children’s book illustrations, medieval painting, Cubism, and folk art, she fastidiously details the stuff that fills our homes in a manner that is seductive yet also disorienting. The edges of the chairs, tables, rugs, plants, etc. dissolve and flatten into an environment of brightly colored blocks of colors and pattern that straddles representation and abstraction. Her vivid visions of domestic spaces bring to life the often overlooked details of our environment that we become numb to in daily life, but which become the cornerstones of our memories. – Julie Rodrigues Widholm


56 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I unofficially vote for Andy Curlowe.

Comment by Donna Wojcik

His work is so fresh and full of a gentle energy. I also like his use of color.

Comment by Jean Howard

How can one vote objectively without seeing the original?

Comment by N.T.

My pick is Marcus Jansen’s piece “Creeping Obstacles in Kansas”

Comment by Shirley Ashenbrenner

I offer up a second unofficial vote for Andy Curlowe.

Comment by Greg

As an artist I understand the conceptual nuances that characterize modern art. Yet I cringe at the hyperbole and hyper-symbolism that the judges ascribe to the works. It reminds me of the dense pedagogical analysis by tweedy professors of lackluster Romantic poets and the feigned amicability of used car salesmen. Many of the above works are interesting. However, they do not warrant the socio-psychological pedestals upon which they have been placed. Unfortunately, the commentary below each work was more creative and expansive that they art they described.

Comment by John Robak

I agree

Comment by Marsha

Here, Here! Indeed! Must the commentary be so fricking dense? Practice your vocabulary somewhere else…..I vote for Bussel, and was similarly moved by Jansen”s piece..Period. .(and didn’t bother/care to read anything, past the first eye-rolling sentence: it was about the visual!

Comment by Barbara Arras

I wonder if all the artists objectively agree with what is writen about their works. An artist can paint a simple shape that is liked by the viewers because it makes them feel good, period. Now, if we go Freudian on what lead each viewer to like something, then we will be here all century, although it can be quite interesting and creative in its own right. Book maybe?

John, if you had to elect a favorite, which one will it be and why?

Comment by Harold Insignares

Shockingly predictable-9 men, 3 women
Is it the $50 entrance fee that barrs tatistically underpaid women or do we need to call in the Guerilla Girls?

Maybe they could tell Randi Hopkins that the “heaps of fabric” in Erin Payne’s “some sort of conceptual project” are laundry. Get it? LAUNDRY.

Comment by Aggint 99

Thanks for your comment. For the record, our jurying process is blind. The judges do not have names or any other demographic information for the artists, just the artwork and captions.

Comment by New American Paintings

The last 30 or so university teaching jobs that I applied to were filled by women.

Comment by todd

I vote for Ann Toebbe. I could imagine living with her piece. the work is creative, original, and beautiful.

Comment by Nancy Bass

I love the homage to Google Maps and old school Nintendo in Jeremy Couillard’s painting. I only wish I could see the original–get’s my vote!

Comment by Jamie

Wow… I love that M. Ruznic!

Comment by Dennis Washington

Anne Toebbe, Josh Reames

Comment by Dan Sullivan

I believe jurors and we who cast the popular vote, are attracted to works similar to our own. I happen to work with geometric shapes, shifting planes, and interiors, therefore I like Josh Reames’ work and Anne toebbe’s.

Comment by Patty Rodgers

William Betts and Ann Toebbe was a really hard decision. I guess as far as painting and what I like about new painting Betts is gonna have more staying power and produce more of an impact on emerging painters. Toebbe although incredibly clever and talented seems to be looking back…

Comment by Ryan Strasser

Why do I feel like I’ve seen all these works before. I see influences of Gerhard Richter, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Robert Rauschenberg in several of theses artist works but they don’t push beyond the influence. Nothing seems refreshing. Nothing here really pushes the edge of envelope for me.

Comment by Pamela Hardy

Is there any work out there that cannot be considered derivitive of someone else? NO! Picasso said it ALL when viewing the cave paintings at Altimera: “we have invented nothing”. … and never we shall, so get over it and view the work for what it is….

Comment by Barbara Arras

Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun”.

Man’s creativity is limited. Take any artist and they have one or many “influences” that all go in a perfect circle throughout the ages. That does not diminish the creative energy and legitimacy of an artist. Where have you found pure originality? Does this happen when you go out to eat or get intimate?

Comment by Harold Insignares

I like that you quoted the old testement re. nothing being new. However, the problem with art types, is their difficulty of calling the proverbial spade a spade. We all see that a cover band can be fun, but remains ultimately lame. What is special about this dreck???

Comment by Ria Furness

Special enough to get your interest. Find the hidden positive sentiment you are repressing and call it a spade.

Comment by Harold Insignares

So predictable: only 3 women, 9 men. The juror, as many others still do, has favored men over women. The works are equally professional looking and good, but I would like to see even better selection in the future.

Comment by Kyra

As we mentioned, all jurying is done blindly, meaning the jurors only see the artwork and captions. They do not know the name or sex of the artists applying.

Second, please note that this is a collection of selections made by multiple jurors (male and Female) over the course of the year. The selections here were not made by one single person.

Comment by New American Paintings

Joe Bussell- You ROCK!!!

Comment by Cindy :opkins

All safe + well crafted versions of stuff exhibited “real” galleries/museums.

Comment by Ria Furness

My vote is for Marcus Kenney for his range of subject matter, constantly evolving images, and use of materials to make sense of this crazy world.

Comment by harriett

Thank you Harriet. They are both precious.

Comment by Ria Furness

None of these interest me at all.

Comment by Christine Kuhn

[…] KENNEY” (there are two artists out there named Marcus—so please don’t get them confused!):… […]

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Erik Parker! He’s the best.

Comment by Sloane Tanen

My vote is for Joe Bussell,great work Joe!

Comment by Bob Fausett

My vote is also for Joe Bussell. Such interesting work!

Comment by Kim

Great work Jeremy!

Comment by Chris Robinette

Jeremy Coulliard’s painting is intelligent, creative, and thought-provoking. A clear stand-out for me.

Comment by Estefan Vieiro

Like the intrigue of Jeremy Couillard’s style

Comment by Nancy Grimm

Hands down for Jeremy Couillard’s unique and creative style
Jenny Chiesa December 19, 2011 @11:48 pm

Comment by Jenny Chiesa

Marcus Kenney’s mixed-media mask/icon is gorgeous!

Comment by pa mit

Erin Payne, love her work great color sense, good luck to all

Comment by eve

Marcus Kenney – The color makes you feel alive.. Everytime i look at it, i see something new..& My grandson says “Wow, It Pops”.. Thanks for sharing..

Comment by Shirley Ford

Marcus Kenney – His work goes deep into our human history and our collective unconscious. He brings forth our shamanic traditions, our shared beliefs in the invisible world – that artists are compelled to bring forth to help us see the non-ordinary reality of or daily life. He is to be commended for this beautiful reality – Well Done – Good Work..
Comment by james E johnson December 22, 2011

Comment by Dusty

jeremy couillard is amazing

Comment by moses

[…] meets the eye: The intricate oil paintings that hide remarkable double images ( NOW! New American Paintings’ Annual Prize: Reader’s Choice Poll ( [1.9.12_1141]Rating: 0 (from 0 votes) Posted Dec 27 , […]

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Interesting maturity in your self-portrait.

Comment by mara duffy


Comment by Ria Furness


Comment by Steve Hollis

I find Marcus Jansen’s work painterly, I like his vivid colors and the sinister quality of the composition.

Comment by Phil Freyder

Insightful documentary on modern art. These people need to watch it.

Comment by artravis

Mr. Bussells’ work certainly caught my eye, and after further examination I must say I must offer him my vote.

Comment by Bréihyan Woolworth

Way to go Jeremy….very creative and the details and colors
are way beyond my imagination as an artist.

Comment by George Balocating


Comment by Rachel Johnson

I vote for Erin Payne!

Comment by Scott Weintraub

Erin Payne all the way!! she is amazing.

Comment by toni price

the sculptural element to Josh Reames’ paintings are great – he get’s my vote.

Comment by Brian Washington

Wow, all of those paintings are so beautiful!

Comment by Athena Kargeui

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