Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hugo Crosthwaite wins 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition with an animation.

The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2019 - held on a triennial basis at the National Portrait Gallery (part of the Smithsonian) in Washington DC - announced both prizewinners and selected artists last week.

One frame from the first prizewinner's three minute stop-motion drawing animation
reflecting on the challenges of migration

The intention of the competition is that it should reflect American Portraiture today.
Every three years, artists living and working in the United States are invited by the museum to submit one of their recent portraits to a panel of experts. The selected artworks reflect the compelling and diverse approaches contemporary artists are using to tell the American story through portraiture.
I wrote about the Call for Entries: 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition back in June 2018.

Forty-six portraits were selected by a blind jury on merit from this open call, which generated more than 2,600 entries (Percentage rate of those selected: 1.76% )
The Outwin 2019 presents work in a variety of media by artists from 14 states across the U.S., Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
What I'm most impressed with - as I am with the Archibald Prize for Portraiture in Australia - is the standard of portraiture. Every time I see the artwork in one or the other of these two competitions I think a rethink of the BP Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London. (of which more anon!)

You can see artwork in the exhibition on the website


The winning artworks reflect the compelling and diverse approaches contemporary artists are using to tell the American story through portraiture.

First Place: Hugo Crosthwaite

The prize is
  • $25,000 cash prize and 
  • a commission to create a portrait of a remarkable living American for the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection
Hugo Crosthwaite, San Diego, California
A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez
Stop-motion drawing animation (3:12 min.), 2018

"A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez" (2018) is part of a series based on artist Hugo Crosthwaite’s interviews with people who are living in or are passing through Tijuana. The resultant improvised drawings represent the collective memories and oral histories from that part of the Mexico-U.S. border. Set to the soundtrack of a dissonant guitar and a raspy voice singing in Spanish, this animated video reveals the dreams and experiences of a young woman who seeks to take part in the American Dream. Black ink, gray wash, and white paint—applied by the invisible hand of the artist— take turns to expose Berenice Sarmiento Chávez’s humble background and the threat of violence in her home country that pushed her to immigrate to the United States. The film suggests that the immigration journey is seeded with constant danger.
Crosthwaite is the first Latinx artist to receive this prestigious award since the national competition was founded in 2006. (Note: Latinx is a gender-neutral neologism, sometimes used instead of Latino or Latina to refer to people of Latin American cultural or racial identity in the United States.)

Second Place ($7,500): Sam Comen

Jesus Sera, Dishwasher by Sam Comen (Los Angeles)
nkjet print, 2018
Collection of the artist

This portrait is part of Sam Comen’s Working America series, in which he examines the experience of American immigrant workers in Los Angeles. Comen’s work is rooted in twentieth-century portraits of workers, as exemplified by photographers such as August Sander and Irving Penn. He trains his lens on first- and second-generation American dishwashers, carpenters, shoemakers, bakers, and tailors. His empathetic portraits celebrate the subjects’ diligence, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit.
More broadly, Comen’s documentary portrait projects address themes of American identity, immigration, democracy, and social justice.

Third Place - 

There was a tie for the third place prize of $5,000. It was awarded to both Richard Greene of Los Angeles for his photograph “Monroe, LA” (2016) and Wayde McIntosh of Brooklyn, New York, for his painting “Legacy” (2017).

Richard Greene
Monroe, LA
Inkjet print, 2016

Wayde McIntosh
Oil on Dibond, 2017

Wayde McIntosh does not inhabit the Internet! Studied at:
  • 2013 Yale University, School of Art New Haven, CT MFA Painting/Printmaking
  • 2008 Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore MD BFA Painting

Commended artists who received a cash prize of $1,000 each are
  • Natalia Garcia Clark, Los Angeles - Self-Portrait HD video (5:59 min.), 2017
  • Lauren Hare, Portland, Oregon - Secrets Inkjet print, 2017
  • Adrian Octavius Walker, Oakland, California - Black Virgin Mary, Inkjet print, 2018

Selected Artists

The analyst in me could not help but notice how few places portrait artists who get their work selected for this competition.


26 of the artists in the exhibition come from five metropolitan areas. 24 come from just three cities - Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.

Maybe it's population related but to me something seems rather 'out of whack'.


  • Sandra Steinbrecher, Chicago

Los Angeles

  • Paul Adams/Jordan Layton, Lindon, Utah / Los Angeles
  • Genevieve Gaignard, Los Angeles
  • Anna Garner, Los Angeles
  • Patrick Martinez, Los Angeles


  • Michael Vasquez, Miami

New York

  • Shimon Attie, New York, N.Y.
  • Tom Atwood, New York, N.Y.
  • Kate Capshaw, New York, N.Y.
  • David Antonio Cruz, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Caledonia Curry/Swoon, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Ronald Diamond, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Jenny Dubnau, Jackson Heights, N.Y.
  • Nona Faustine, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Zun Lee, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Devon Rodriguez, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Federico Solmi, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Washington DC

  • Joshua Cogan, Washington, D.C.
  • Larry W. Cook Jr., Washington, D.C.
  • Nekisha Durrett, Washington, D.C.
  • Louie Palu, Washington, D.C.
  • Sheldon Scott, Washington, D.C.


Including prizewinners, some 20 of the 46 artists (43%) live outside major metropolitan cities


  • Daniel Centofanti, Stevenson Ranch
  • Julianne Wallace Sterling, Albany
  • Lava Thomas, Berkeley
  • Carla Crawford, Petaluma


  • Claire Beckett, Swampscott, Mass.


  • Jess T. Dugan, St. Louis, Mo.

New Jersey

  • Luis Alvarez Roure, Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.


  • Joel Daniel Phillips, Tulsa, Okla.

Puerto Rico

  • ADÁL, Santurce, Puerto Rico


  • Quinn Russell Brown, Seattle


  • Ruth Leonela Buentello, San Antonio, Texas
  • Mike Byrnside, San Antonio, Texas
  • Antonius-Tin Bui, Houston, Texas
  • Sedrick Huckaby, Benbrook, Texas
  • Deborah Roberts, Austin, Texas


  • Carl Corey, River Falls, Wis.
  • William Lemke, Waukesha, Wis


The 46 finalists’ portraits will be on display in “The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today” at the National Portrait Gallery, 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001. It opened on October 26th and will run until August 30th 2020. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

The competition is made possible by the Virginia Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was established by Virginia Outwin Boochever and continued by her children.