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Ten Chicago Artists To Watch This Year

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 5, 2015 9:09PM

Chihsuan Yang, Photo by Jennifer Girard

A local nonprofit has chosen ten Chicago artists to watch this year.

The organization 3Arts, which awards artists working in arts education, performance, dance and the visual arts, is giving out $250,000 to these ten local artists Monday night as part of the 8th annual 3Arts Awards. The organization's focus is on helping promote Chicago artists with a focus on women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will host the awards ceremony, in which the ten artists will receive $25,000.00 each in unrestricted funds to make their upcoming projects a reality.

"It is an immense privilege for 3Arts and our Award Partners to support another ten Chicago-area artists whose work energizes and enthralls every corner of our city. It is our profound hope that these artists will feel the applause emanating their way, and never forget how much they are valued here," said 3Arts Executive Director, Esther Grisham Grimm.

Chosen by a national jury panel including Alice Sheppard, Shulamut Ran, Barbara Hackett-Cox and PJ Powers, the recipients will be honored with a celebratory gathering at the MCA with a reception and an awards ceremony with performances by past recipients including Flexing/Fluffing by Darrell Jones and a musical composition by JoVia Armstrong performed by past awardees.

"Every year, we celebrate new awardees who reflect the breadth of art in Chicago and the diversity of our community," said 3Arts Board Chair, Marcia Festen. "Hand in hand with our supporters, we do this work, in part, selfishly to ensure that artists have a good reason to stay among us in Chicago."

The 2015 Recipients include these following artists, who each received a specific award endowed by or named for a supporter of the arts:

Kris Lenzo, a dancer who spent more than two decades as a national wheelchair basketball and track champion before moving to the realm of dance and has since worked as a dance instructor and performed with a variety of dance troops, is the 3Arts/David Pinkerton Awardee. He participates annually in the Chicago Disability Pride Parade.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez, is receiving the 3Arts/RH/Restoration Hardware Award. She has created numerous original works, received the "Winning Works" award from The Joffrey Ballet in 2014, and has several commissions from Ballet Hispanico, Oakland University and Fantasmagorie in conjunction with the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium.

In the music category, vocalist Frank Waln receives the 3Arts/Reva&David Logan Foundation award. From the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota, this hip-hop artist has received many previous awards including three Native American Music Awards.

Instrumentalist Chihsuan Yang, prolific Chicago musician with a penchant for complex violin is awarded the 3Arts/Southwest Airlines award. She is the founder of the classical quintet, Accende, as well as a member of a Flamenco ensemble.

Samuel by Benji Hartvia artist's website
Benji Hart is an activist, artist and youth worker with an unwavering passion for education that focuses on dance to teach Black and Brown queer history, sex positivity all toward the goal of empowerment. His writing has appeared in Salon, The Socialist Worker and more. He is receiving the 3Arts/Siragusa Phelps Award.

Chris Silva has been a part of many scenes in Chicago, including the graffiti and skateboard scene. Largely involved in public art, his experience with youth in such projects as well as large-scale commissions make Silva an artist to continue to watch. He is the recipient of the 3Arts/Chandler Family Award.

Originally from Houston, actor Allen Gilmore, the recipient of the 3Arts/Denise & Gary Gardner Award, has performed on Broadway, playing an array of major roles including Othello, Cyrano and Waiting for Gidot's Vladimir. He is a member of Congo Square Theatre Company and the Court Theatre Family as well as a 2015 Lunt-Fontanne/Ten Chimneys Fellow.

The recipient of the 3Arts Community Award, Fawzia Mirza is an actor, comedian and writer who has graced many Chicago stages. Her first short film, The Queen of my Dreams, co-written and co-directed by Ryan Logan, has screened at over 65 film festivals worldwide. Mirza was also a "Featured Artist" as part of Chicago Artists Month.

Cheryl Pope, an interdisciplinary artist, will receive her award from the 3Arts/Stan Lipkin and Evelyn Appell Lipkin. For over two years, Pope has been developing Just Yell / Poetry as Self Defense. She is a professor in the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago, Galleria Bianconi in Milan and Spinello Projects in Miami.

Fo Wilson, recipient of the 3Arts/Allstate award, is an artist, educator, writer and independent curator. Her work uses constructed space and furniture to create experiences in an historical context as a new way to think about and relate with history. Her solo exhibition, Eliza's Peculiar Cabinet of Curiosities will open at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee in 2016.

These ten artists are ones to watch as they continue to create deeply significant work that impacts individuals, the city and beyond.