Columbus, Georgia, native Bo Bartlett has been selected as the winner of the 2017 Society 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art, given by the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. The other finalists were Paul Stephen Benjamin (Atlanta), Suzanne Jackson (Savannah), Beverly McIver (Durham, NC) and Ebony G. Patterson (Lexington, KY).
Bartlett, who divides his time between Georgia and Maine, is known for his large-scale figurative paintings that present narratives of American life and cultural heritage. Bartlett, who is 61, received a certificate of fine art from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1981. He showed with P.P.O.W. in New York in the 1980s and early ’90s, and more recently with Ameringer McEnery Gallery.
The 1858 Prize is presented annually by Society 1858, a Gibbes museum group for young professionals. The $10,000 cash prize is given to an artist whose work “demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South.”
This year, there were more than 200 applicants for the prize. The winner was selected by a panel that included Alicia Henry, the 2016 winner of the 1858 Prize; Margo Crutchfield, curator at Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech; Rachel Reese, associate curator of at Telfair Museums in Savannah; Pam Wall, curator at the Gibbes; Emily Stamey, curator at the Weatherspoon Art Museum; and Society 1858 board members Emily Broome and Anja Kelley.
A party for Bartlett will take place at the Gibbes on September 27, preceded by a panel discussion with artists and experts about the impact of contemporary art in the South.