Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Three artists win $75,000 in prize money from field of 696 local artists

Three metropolitan Baltimore artists were named winners of the 2011 Baker Artist Awards today. Audrey Chen, Gary Kachadourian and Shodekeh were selected by a jury of national experts to receive the 2011 Mary Sawyers Baker awards. Each artist will receive $25,000 and be featured in an exhibition at The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) from September 7 – October 2, 2011, including a celebratory Late Night event on October 1 where Ms. Chen and Shodekeh will perform. The winners were presented on Maryland Public Television’s ArtWorks Special: The Baker Artist Awards 2011.

Audrey Chen is an improvisational performance artist based in Baltimore, who maintains an active touring schedule throughout Europe. Using the cello, voice and analog electronics, Chen performs solo and in collaboration with a wide number of other artists.


Gary Kachadourian makes drawings and Xeroxed or ink- jet printed booklets, prints or posters and occasionally curates small scale multi-artist exhibitions. He worked for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts for 22 years where he coordinated grant programs, exhibitions for Artscape, the city’s mural program and numerous temporary public arts projects. He currently attends an MFA program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Shodekeh sporting a mic(saver) #03 t-shirtShodekeh is a beatboxer and vocal percussionist who often works collaboratively with dancers, musicians and visual artists. Emulating various instruments and soundscapes, he vocalizes everything from drum sets, turntables, ocean waves, to sleigh bells. Shodekeh founded and runs the Embody Series in Baltimore.

The three winners and the nominations of all 696 artists that entered the competition this year can be viewed at www.bakerartistawards.org.

In addition to its Mary Sawyers Baker prizes, The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund inaugurated a program this year to award 18 $1,000 grants known as b-grants to artists from a variety of fields whose work is displayed on the Baker Artist Awards site. The work of b-grant awardees will be included in The Baker Artist Awards exhibition and Late Night event at the BMA this fall. The winners of this year’s b-grants were Copycat Theatre, Naoko Maeshiba, Mara Neimanis, Fernando Quijano III, Bashi Rose, Caleb Stein, Jim Dugan, Shaun Flynn, Andrew Liang, Nelly’s Echo, Justin Sirois, Lily Susskind, Ellen cherry, Lynne Parks, Michelle Antoinette Nelson, Bruce Nelson, Nolen Strals / Bruce Willen, and Hermonie Only. Among the b-grant winners, ellen cherry was awarded an additional prize of $500 in honor of Semmes G. Walsh, whose forty-plus years of service to the Baker Fund were characterized by integrity, common sense and a commitment to artistic excellence and his love of music. Bruce Nelson was awarded an additional prize of $500 honoring Nancy Haragan for her decade of creative service to Baltimore’s arts sector.

Noting that the Baker Artist Awards initiative is now in its third year and has delivered over $257,000 in prizes directly into the hands of Baltimore area artists, Melissa Warlow, Executive Director of the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, says “The beauty of the Baker Artist Award site is that it dynamically promotes the work of local artists to many constituencies—from Baltimore residents to curators at important institutions—and allows artists to connect with each other and visitors to the site. Response to the site demonstrates that visitors around the world view Baltimore as an emerging artistic hotspot.”

Winners have included artists in many disciplines, including multi-disciplinary artists, visual artists, and performing artists. First year winner of the Mary Sawyers Baker Prize, John Ruppert, says of the award site “it was really exciting to see the variety of work in the area. I’ve always felt that Baltimore was a very fertile environment. There’s a real camaraderie between artists and different organizations here and the Baker award is a great way to bring a focus to that and bring the community together. Winning the award has made it possible for me to be more independent.”

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance provides administrative support for the Baker Artist Awards and acts as the help desk for artists and visitors to the site.

About the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund

Mary Sawyers Baker established the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund in 1964 to honor her husband, a founding partner in Baker Watts, a Baltimore investment banking firm. In 2007, the Fund narrowed its philanthropic mission to focus on arts and culture. In 2008, the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund established the BakerArtistAwards.org to promote regional excellence in the arts and show the world that Baltimore is home to a thriving arts scene.

About the Baker Artist Awards

Established in 2008 by The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, the Baker Artist Awards recognize Baltimore's artists and engage regional, national and international audiences in supporting their work.  Through an innovative application process that allows for image, video, audio, and text formats, artists in any creative discipline are encouraged to nominate themselves at www.bakerartistawards.org, create a "profile", and upload samples of their artwork to be exhibited on the website.  In addition to commenting on artists work and on the Baker Artist Awards Blog, site visitors can also participate by signing up to curate a collection of “Favorites”.  Up to three Mary Sawyers Baker Prize winners are selected annually from the site's nominees by a private jury of national and international experts, and awarded up to $25,000 each. In 2009 and 2010, the award included a Baltimore’s Choice award, which were selected by site visitors. People’s Choice winners in 2009 were Milana Braslavsky, Becky Alprin, Rob Levit, Sarah House, Jim Lucio, Adam Hopkins, and Vincent Thomas, and the 2010 winners were Kelly Walker, Shodekeh, Amanda Fair, Steven Parke, and Kaveh Haerian.

About The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance creates a cohesive cultural community that strengthens the livability and economic vitality of the Greater Baltimore region. The non-profit organization serves arts organizations, coalitions and individual artists by being a unifying voice and bridge-builder, acting as a convener, and providing information and services.