Neddy at Cornish

Neddy at Cornish

The Neddy at Cornish is an annual artist award program supported by the Behnke Foundation and housed at Cornish College of the Arts in memory of Robert E. (“Ned”) Behnke and in celebration of his life as an artist.

Each year, eight artists living and working in the greater Puget Sound region are chosen as finalists. From these eight artists, two $25,000 unrestricted awards are given — one in painting and one in any medium or combination of media grounded in the visual arts. The remaining six finalists each receive $1,500 and are included in a group exhibition in September.

2014 Neddy Awards

Neddy at Cornish Award Winner in Painting: Susanna Bluhm from Cornish College of the Arts on Vimeo.

The recipients of the 2014 Neddy at Cornish art awards are Susanna Bluhm (Painting) and Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes (Open Medium). Each artist will receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000. The other six finalists will receive $1,500 each.

Susanna Bluhm describes her paintings as exploring the “landscape as a lover and loved one, enmeshed with the paint, and without the safe distance usually afforded by the Sublime in traditional Western landscape painting.” She earned her BA in Studio Art from California State University Humboldt, her MFA in Painting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and at the Karl Hofer Gesellschaft in Berlin. Bluhm is a member of SOIL artist-run gallery in Seattle, and is represented by G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle.

Neddy at Cornish Award Winner in Open Medium: Maikoiyo Alley Barnes from Cornish College of the Arts on Vimeo.

Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and designer who explores the resonance of genetic cultural memory through the mystical and the mundane. He is part of the Black Constellation, a collective that also includes Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, and Nep Sidhu. Alley-Barnes has exhibited sculpture and films in numerous traditional and new-media-based settings including a recent show at the Frye Museum and has been involved in the creation of seminal cultural spaces in Seattle such as the mixed-use space pun(c)tuation, among others. Alley-Barnes lives and works in Seattle.

The awardees were chosen by the Hammer Museum curator Aram Moshayedi, following studio visits with the artists conducted in July and August. Moshayedi joined the Museum in July 2013 and has organized two solo presentations from the Hammer Contemporary Collection featuring works by Los Angeles-based artists Pentti Monkkonen and Hirsch Perlman. Previously he served as the associate curator of the Gallery at The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT). Prior to that, he was a curator at LA>

The Neddy at Cornish 2014 exhibition included the work of all the award winners and finalists for that year:  Susanna Bluhm, Robert Hardgrave, Kimberly Trowbridge, Claude Zervas, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Mark Calderon, Clyde Petersen and Joey Veltkamp, curated by Sharon Arnold. The 2014 Neddyat Cornish finalists were chosen by a panel of three regional arts professionals: Lele Barnett, Tim Detweiler, and Jeffry Mitchell.

The History of the Neddy

Ned Behnke was a beloved member of the Behnke Family and a renowned and talented painter. Ned had a passion for the arts that extended beyond his own work. He appreciated myriad forms that art takes and the way in which art can foster a conscious, vital and more livable world.

In 1966, after Ned’s untimely death, Ned’s sister-in-law, Shari D. Behnke, founded the Neddy as a way to honor both his legacy as a visual artist and his deep connection to the Seattle art community. Under the auspices of the Behnke Foundation, the Neddy grew to become of the most important art awards in Seattle. The artists who have been recognized with a Neddy have a unique vision and a strong passion for their art as well as for the transformative potential of art to enliven and enrich the world in which we live.

In 2011, the Behnke Foundation transferred the program to Cornish College of the Arts where it became known as the “Neddy at Cornish” artist award. Building on the history Ned shared with the College and on the shared commitment of the Foundation and the College to invigorate and sustain communities through art, the Neddy at Cornish program continues to make two substantial, unrestricted awards to Puget Sound-area artists each year.

For more information on the history of the Neddy awards, visit the Behnke Foundation.

Neddy Award Criteria

There are two Neddy awards given each year. Recipients must demonstrate artistic distinction through an established body of work and a commitment to their artistic practice. In honor of Ned and his passion for painting, one Neddy award celebrates artists who continue to innovate through this traditional medium. Reflecting the ever-increasing possibilities in contemporary art practices, the second Neddy award honors artists who work in any medium or combination of media grounded in the visual arts.

Ned Behnke embodied the Cornish mission to develop artists as citizens — individuals who create outstanding artwork while remaining conscious of the artist’s responsibility to the larger society. Because the awards honor Ned’s legacy, Neddy recipients must reflect and embody his belief in the power of art and artists to be positive forces in our world. The criteria for both awards are:

  • Demonstrated commitment to and ongoing development of one’s artistic vision.
  • Demonstrated engagement with the world around them through their art practice, broadly understood.

See the application guidelines for more information on eligibility and award process.

The Selection Process

The eight finalists are selected by a group of three regional arts professionals, who offer their external perspective and expertise, along with members of the Cornish staff. A juror from outside the region selects the two Neddy recipients for the year. Neddy at Cornish program staff members and their immediate family are not eligible to apply for an award, serve as an advisor, or serve as a selection committee member or final juror.

Neddy at Cornish Events & Activities

The Neddy at Cornish program offers unrestricted $25,000 awards to artists who demonstrate a distinctive artistic practice or perspective and who engage with the community at large. To deepen the impact of these awards, Cornish College of the Arts aims to present a year-long series of events and activities to honor and support the work of the recipients. The College will, wherever possible, make physical resources available to the artists.

After an initial conversation with program staff, and depending on their interests and availability, the two 2014 Neddy at Cornish recipients can elect to develop programs themselves, or they can rely on program staff to shape events that reflect and highlight the recipients’ artistic endeavors. Programming possibilities include, but are not limited to, artist talks, studio visits, student critiques, panel discussions, or additional exhibitions.

The Robert E. “Ned" Behnke Lecture

In addition to these programs and the annual Neddy exhibition, the College hosts an annual Robert E. “Ned” Behnke Lecture, inviting an artist or scholar of stature to the campus for a discussion of timely issues relevant to the mission of the Neddy at Cornish.