The New York Foundation for the Arts has announced the winners of the 2017 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award, given to artists over fifty years of age who have maintained a steady studio practice and created an exceptional body of work. Merion Estes will use the funds to publish a catalogue raisonné that will accompany her exhibition at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles (scheduled to coincide with her eightieth birthday); and Mario Martinez, a New York–based artist, will use his prize toward expanding his work. Each will receive $10,000.
“Receiving this award is so cool because it is the first award of its kind that I’ve received from a mainstream arts organization. I’ve painted and drawn since grade school six decades ago, so this award is confirmation of better professional and artistic developments to come,” said Martinez. Responding to the honor, Estes said, “This is only the second grant I have received in my long career, and I am most grateful.”
Estes and Martinez were selected from a panel made up of artists Cynthia Carlson, Alan Michelson, and Sanford Wurmfiel; arts editor and educator editor Marcia E. Vetrocq; and poet, critic, and curator John Yau. Nominees were recommended by a group of unidentified US art-world professionals. The prize, started by NYFA two years ago with the help of an anonymous donor, is named in honor of the late Murray Reich, a New York–based painter who taught as an art professor at Bard College.