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Mary Weatherford receives Artists’ Legacy Foundation Artist Award

"Viajes" (2014) by Mary Weatherford.
(Fredrik Nilsen )

Ojai-born, Los Angeles-based painter Mary Weatherford has won the Artists’ Legacy Foundation 2014 Artist Award and will receive a $25,000 cash prize.

This is the eighth annual Artist Award given by the foundation, started in 2000 by painter Squeak Carnwath, community advocate Gary Knecht and sculptor Viola Frey. The foundation will celebrate Weatherford at a private ceremony Nov. 2 in Oakland.

The goal of the organization is to encourage the work of painters and sculptors and to protect the legacies of deceased artists. A bequest left by Frey after her death in 2004 launched the group’s award, first given to sculptor Kathy Butterly in 2007.

Candidates are nominated without their knowledge and selected by jury. The jury that chose Weatherford included Jennifer Gross, chief curator of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln. Mass.; Franklin Sirmans, curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Jodi Throckmorton, curator of contemporary art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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The foundation’s one requirement is that the winner’s work shows “evidence of the hand” as “a significant factor” in making art. The jury saw this evidence in Weatherford’s novel use of neon light in her paintings.

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight was also taken with Weatherford’s use of electric light.

In May, when she staged a solo exhibition at the David Kordansky Gallery, he wrote: “In the most audacious move, Weatherford ‘draws’ over the painted surfaces with one, two or three neon tubes. She lets the draped electrical cords essential to powering their glowing artificial light become an integral part of the composition. (The chords continue out of the picture, leading to a small transformer on the floor.) Eccentric and whimsical, the Post-Minimal sensuality of Keith Sonnier’s late-1960s and ‘70s glass-and-neon installations enters the scene.”

Weatherford received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1984 and was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1985. She earned her master’s from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in 2006.

Her work is included in the exhibition “Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting” at LACMA and in the upcoming survey “The Forever Nowat the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Follow me on Twitter @jessicagelt


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