The American Academy of Arts and Letters -- an organization whose founding members include Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson -- announced its 2015 award recipients in art on Thursday.
The nine established and emerging artists were picked from a pool of 40 artists who were showing in a group exhibition organized by the AAAL, "Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts," which opened in New York earlier this month. The exhibit spanned paintings, sculptures, photographs, works on paper as well as installations.
"Each of the awards has attached to it a specific description and intent," said AAAL executive director Virginia Dajani. "We were looking for excellence and promise and, in a few cases, lifetime achievement or a formidable body of work."
Artist Clintel Steed received the John Koch Award, given to "a young painter of figurative work."
Jane Rosen, Steve Dibenedetto, Brenda Goodman, Gary Lang, and Stanley Lewis received the Arts and Letters Awards in Art, honoring "exceptional accomplishment and to encourage creative work."
Irving Petlin and Robert Berlind received the Jacob Lawrence Award and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Award given to visual artists.
Andrew Piedilato received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Painting honoring "a young American painter of distinction."
Each of the artists received $10,000.
"We want to encourage artists by giving them financial incentive," Dajani said. "And also, the fact that a number of the awards are purchase awards mean the works were purchased and will appear in an American Museum -- which, in a way, is better than cash for the artists. And it helps the museums as well."