Billionaire real estate developer Jorge M. Pérez is creating not one, but two, major annual art awards based in his home city of Miami. The Jorge M. Pérez Award will offer $25,000 to a visual arts alumnus of Miami’s National YoungArts Foundation, while the $50,000 Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize will be presented to a living artist selected by the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Both prizes are unrestricted.
The awards are a way for Pérez—who in 2013 controversially became the former Miami Art Museum’s namesake as the lead donor on its new building—to support artists directly while bringing more international attention to Miami’s cultural scene.
“There’s a lot of well-known awards that a lot of artists strive for, whether it be the Turner Prize or the Hugo Boss Prize—we really want Miami and PAMM to be part of that conversation,” Patti Hannah, Pérez’s lead curator and art director for his real estate company, Related Group, told artnet News.
Pérez’s partners, PAMM and YoungArts—a nonprofit that supports high school students gifted in the visual, literary, design, and performing arts—are two local cultural groups with which the billionaire real estate developer has already worked closely.
The YoungArts award aims to boost alumni “at that critical juncture when you’re having some kind of success but you’re not there completely,” Lisa Leone, YoungArts’ vice president of artistic programs, told artnet News.
The inaugural prize was dedicated to Latinx artists. Hannah worked to select the winner with Naiomy Guerrero, a curatorial fellow at PAMM specializing on artists of Latin American descent in the US.
The original idea was to honor one artist, but they ended up choosing two: multidisciplinary artist and designer Chat Travieso, a 2003 YoungArts winner and US Presidential Scholar in the Arts who originally hails from Miami and now lives in Brooklyn; and painter and printmaker Kathia St. Hilaire, a Miami native currently completing her MFA at Yale University in Connecticut.
“Chat has a very socially engaged practice that deals with architecture and public spaces,” said Hannah. “Kathia grew up in Miami maneuvering the Caribbean and African American culture and her work deals with that.”
Because the YoungArts team communicated directly with the prize jury, sending portfolios from about 40 or 50 Latinx alumni for consideration, neither winner had any idea they were even up for the prize.
“We kept it kind of under wraps because it was the first year,” Leone admitted. “When they got the phone call it was completely out of the blue.”
YoungArts announced the two winners for the Jorge M. Pérez Award on Saturday at the organization’s annual Backyard Ball performance and gala. The winner of the inaugural Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize will be announced at the PAMM Art of the Party gala in March. The museum is still determining how the winner’s work will be incorporated into future shows.
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