By Don Heckman
Herb Alpert’s at it again, encouraging young talent to display their skills by acknowledging their abilities with supportive rewards.
Today, in a lunch at the Herb Alpert Foundation in Santa Monica, the 21st annual Herb Alpert Award in the Arts was presented to five exceptional mid-career artists.
The awards recognize past performance and future promise to artists working in Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts; an outstanding candidate in each genre receives a prize of $75,000.
“It’s exciting,” said Alpert, “to be able to support these five unique artists who are always on the hunt for something they don’t yet know, something real that touches us in a deep place. Whether they are writing a concerto, making a film, an installation, a ruckus or a dance, they always look for something special and original to say. These are artists with the passion, talent and the restlessness that never makes them stop. They HAVE TO make art not just for themselves… but for all of US.”
The five 2015 winners, with the Alpert panel’s explanations for granting the awards, are:
Maria Hassabi, for changing the nature of spectatorship, for challenging conventional ideas about performance, for stripping away busyness and the ornamentation of dancing to allow for rare contemplative experience.
Sharon Lockhart, for her films which combine structural rigor, formal exactitude, exquisite beauty, intimate attention, commitment to a cinema of duration, and a sympathetic ethnographic eye in a post–minimalist aesthetic entirely her own.
Julia Wolfe, for her fresh, uncompromising artistry, her vibrant, direct, and emotionally powerful works generous and bold in spirit and her engagement with socially conscious issues, a tradition that is passionately and unapologetically American to the core.
Taylor Mac, for his fierce, disarming, beautiful, transgressive, emotionally vulnerable work; for social critique disguised as glitter, ambitious scope, and for effervescently rearranging audiences perceptions while creating a great time.
Tania Bruguera, for the complexity, longevity, and urgency of her work, for her strong formal clarity and ongoing contribution to international conversations on freedom of speech and illegal immigration. The panel honors her for her commitment to resisting market pressures in order to seek an ethics of what art can do, and recognize the innovative ways she has reinvented the language of activism within contemporary culture.