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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Announce 2010 SECA Award Winners

Award Exhibition Coincides with Golden Anniversary of SECA, Marking 50 Years of Supporting Bay Area Artists

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced that Mauricio Ancalmo, Colter Jacobsen, Ruth Laskey, and Kamau Amu Patton are the 2010 artists selected for its biennial SECA Art Award. Administered by SECA (Society for the Encouragement o f Contemporary Art), one of the museum’s auxiliaries, the signature award honors Bay Area artists who are working independently at a high level of artistic maturity but who have not yet received substantial recognition. The four award winners will receive a modest cash prize and will be featured in an exhibition (with accompanying catalogue) that will open at the museum in the fall of 2011.

The upcoming SECA Art Award exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of SECA. Distinguished as one of the few and longest standing award programs dedicated to local artists at a modern art museum in the United States, SECA has been bridging the traditional divide between artists, museum curators, art enthusiasts, and arts professionals in the local community for the past 50 years, recognizing more than 60 winning artists along the way and giving hundreds of finalists a platform to speak about their practice. To mark the anniversary in 2011, SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Alison Gass will organize an exhibition of selected work by past SECA Art Award winners and edit a comprehensive book that, like the exhibition, will weave together artists’ voices, opinions, and recollections to reveal the full story of SECA’s layered development, as well as the larger history of its importance to Bay Area art practice.

This year SFMOMA considered more than 250 artists working in a broad range of media who were nominated by Bay Area art professionals, including curators, professors, gallery owners, critics, SECA members, and former recipients of the SECA Art Award. Thirty finalists received studio visits, and the four winners—Ancalmo, Jacobsen, Laskey, and Patton—were selected by SFMOMA assistant curators Apsara DiQuinzio (painting and sculpture), and Tanya Zimbardo (media arts).

“The high caliber of work being made by each of the 30 talented finalists made this an extraordinarily difficult decision,” said DiQuinzio and Zimbardo. “The rich spectrum of artistic practices we witnessed encompasses a diversity of form and subject matter, with overlapping affinities. More importantly, they underscore the strength of contemporary art in the Bay Area. We found the truly singular and innovative approaches of the four awardees to be particularly compelling and are honored to be able to support their individual achievements through this award and exhibition.”

The finalists for the 2010 SECA Art Award were Mauricio Ancalmo, Michael Arcega, Amy Balkin, Michelle Blade, Nate Boyce, castaneda/reiman, Sergio De La Torre, Anthony Discenza, Bruno Fazzolari, Rebecca Goldfarb, Michael Guidetti, Misako Inaoka, Colter Jacobsen, Jason Kalogiros, Pawel Kruk, Ruth Laskey, Bernie Lubell, Chris McCaw, Sean McFarland, Brion Nuda Rosch, Jennie Ottinger, Kamau Amu Patton, Alison Sant, Paul Schiek, Alice Shaw, Weston Teruya, Gabrielle Teschner, Richard T. Walker, Lindsey White, and Pamela Wilson-Ryckman.

Mauricio Ancalmo

In his process-based film installations, Mauricio Ancalmo often incorporates found machines of various kinds—16mm film projectors, a sewing machine, a word processor, turntables, old medical equipment—and pushes these mechanical instruments to their material limit, so that chance, physical breakdown, and erosion become incorporated into his working method without being the end in and of itself. A hybrid of film, sound, and sculpture, Ancalmo’s generative installations (in some instances cameraless film), construct new encounters with salvaged analogue apparatuses that inscribe film leader through novel means. His experiential assemblages redefine our associations with mechanical objects; he often modifies the objects’ functional properties, re-combining media to form a structural dialogue that is both poetically and philosophically inspired. Ancalmo says of his practice: “My intention is not to cause the instruments to break, but rather to have the machines form a new experience, one characterized by change, tension, and function.”

Raised in El Salvador and the United States, Ancalmo received an MFA in new genres from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2006, and a BFA in computer animation and sculpture from Southern Oregon University, Ashland, as well as a BS in geology from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He has had solo exhibitions at Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, San Francisco.

Colter Jacobsen

Primarily culling ephemera and debris from the streets to use as source material, Jacobsen’s graphite drawings, watercolors, and collages often embody his strategy of searching for, finding, or creating nearly identical pairs. Recent subjects of the artist’s found images—vintage portraits of sailors, digital profile shots from online gay dating sites, newspaper obituaries—are charged with longing and desire, while the depictions of nature scenes such as seascapes and waterfalls nod to Romanticism and human identification with the natural environment. Jacobsen’s ongoing series of memory drawings study the process of recollection and reversal. Beginning with an intricately rendered copy of a found photograph, the artist presents it side-by-side with its imperfect, mirrored double drawn entirely from memory. While Jacobsen’s meticulous draftsmanship is evident in his remarkably faithful reproduction of the original, he emphasizes the subtle shifts, distortions, and softened details. He says of the act of remembering the original, “From seeing to drawing is a memory already. I think it’s this lapse in time and just our being human that begins to abstract things.”

Jacobsen (born in 1975 in Ramona, California) received his BFA in 2001 from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Corvi-Mora, London; Tibor de Nagy, New York; and Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco.

Ruth Laskey

Though trained in painting and drawing, Laskey is interested in the relatively unexplored territory that weaving occupies within the context of art history. Although she began painting on canvas, eventually she shifted her practice in favor of a more primary relationship with her materials, abandoning paint and premade canvases in order to work the abstract form directly into her weaving process. “I wanted to be involved in the creation of the entire structure of a painting,” she states, “and to consider all elements of the work integral to its final physical form.” Laskey makes her small linen textiles with a traditional floor loom. She determines the twill pattern for each work ahead of time, making precise mathematical calculations and executing preparatory drawings on graph paper. Often utilizing a restricted palette and simple geometric forms—diamonds, triangles, squares, polygons—to integrate a figure/ground dialogue into her process, she sets these shapes against and within white ground. The vibrant delineations she creates are both the subject of each composition and part of its underlying structure.

Laskey (born in 1975 in San Francisco) received a BA in art history from UC Santa Cruz in 1997, and a BFA and an MFA in painting from the California College of the Arts in 1999 and 2005, respectively. She has had solo exhibitions at Ratio 3, San Francisco, and Galerie Cinzia Friedlaender, Berlin.

Kamau Amu Patton

Synthesizing different elements within his multidimensional installations to a dynamic combined effect, Kamau Amu Patton’s interdisciplinary practice investigates the conditions leading to a perceptual experience of a given site. He brings into dialogue diverse media—steel sculpture, drawings, paintings, video, sound, and performance—collapsing the tangible and the ephemeral. Patton’s recent projects have explored the abstract qualities of light and sound in relation to performer-audience interaction, movement, and digital processing. Describing his site-responsive approach to creating experiential environments, he says: “The basic unit of my practice is the room, the space of which I consider a potential reality construct, to be engaged and occupied by an idea.” His work has alluded to scientific exploration and mysticism through references to special effects, the spectacle of natural phenomena, visualization exercises, rituals, altered realities, and apocalyptic visions. The artist has drawn on personal and shared experiences of popular culture, integrating his extensive research into various forms of communications media, from 1930s science fiction radio broadcasts to the public access television shows produced by modern African American spiritual groups.

In 1995 Patton (born in 1972 in Brooklyn, New York) earned a BA in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and in 2007 he received an MFA in new genres from Stanford University. He has had solo exhibitions at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Queen’s Nails Projects, San Francisco; and Machine Project, Los Angeles.

About SECA

Founded in 1961, SECA brings together art enthusiasts, collectors, curators, and arts professionals through a variety of events that strengthen members’ knowledge of contemporary art. The group was initially conceived as an education opportunity, and that legacy is strong as today the SECA program includes rich activities for participants, including artist and curator talks and exclusive visits to galleries, private collections, and artist studios. The group works closely with SFMOMA curators to identify the best new art in the Bay Area and to present the biennial SECA Art Award and its associated exhibition at SFMOMA.While the SECA Art Award is often considered the heart of the SECA program, SECA members are active between awards as well. The program also offers year-round opportunities for artists to share their practices with key individuals active in the local arts community. More information about the SECA and the award process is available online at

Recent SECA Art Award recipients include Tauba Auerbach, Desirée Holman, Jordan Kantor, Trevor Paglen (2008); Sarah Cain, Kota Ezawa, Amy Franceschini, Mitzi Pederson, Leslie Shows (2006); Rosana Castrillo Díaz, Simon Evans, Shaun O’Dell, and Josephine Taylor (2004); John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson, and Will Rogan (2002); Rachael Neubauer and Kathryn Van Dyke (2000); Chris Finley, Gay Outlaw, Laurie Reid, and Rigo 98 (1998); and D-L Alvarez, Anne Appleby, and Barry McGee (1996).

2010 SECA Art Award is funded by SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art), an SFMOMA art interest group. Additional support is provided by the Robert Huston Memorial Fund.

The 50th Anniversary SECA Exhibition is organized by SFMOMA and funded by in part by The Graue Family Foundation.

Image: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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