The Herb Alpert Foundation and CalArts Announce the 2010 Winners of the Alpert Award in the Arts.
Five Exceptional Artists Receive $75,000 Grants for Dance, Film/Video, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts.
Santa Monica, California, October 21, 2010: The Herb Alpert Foundation  and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)  have awarded the Alpert Award in the Arts  to five mid-career artists who take risks and make challenging, exceptional work in their fields. The five Award categories reflect the major fields of investigation at CalArts. The award is a prize based upon the recognition of both past performance and future promise. Since 1994 the judges of the annual Alpert Awards have identified artists who make "something that matters" and exhibit a capacity to explore and push their limits. In the words of choreographer Victoria Marks, a past winner, "The Alpert allowed me to not have to know where I was going, to stumble blindly until I found my way."
The 2010 Recipients:
Rachel Harrison  (Artist): Visual Arts
Lukas Ligeti  (Composer/ Musician/ Improviser): Music
Susan Rethorst  (Choreographer): Dance
Bill Talen aka "Reverend Billy"  (Performer & Activist): Theatre
Jim Trainor  (Animator): Film/Video
Irene Borger, Director of the Alpert Award in the Arts, describes the 2010 winning artists' talents and ideas. "The Visual Arts Panel named Rachel Harrison as a winner for her surprising and always human work, a compelling reflection of the world." Harrison says, "My work is about the need to see things from many angles, many points of view."
Lukas Ligeti was chosen by the Music Panel for his originality, unique voice and unflagging exploration of new ideas. As a percussionist, he is interested in music as a form of dance. "Playing an instrument is, to me, a form of dance, only that my motion causes sound," he says.
Susan Rethorst, choreographer, won for her rich gestural vocabulary, compelling formalism and ongoing commitment to making brave, beautiful, vulnerable work. "What directs me? When something feels compelling and uncomfortable," she says.
The Theatre Panel selected Bill Talen for taking risks, and making acts of supreme beauty that matter within and beyond the world of theatre and performance. Talen was once arrested for reciting the First Amendment in Union Square Park and understood that being an artist meant rising to the radical promise of the First Amendment itself.
Jim Trainor was recognized by the Film/Video Panel for his musicality, deceptive simplicity and power of his disturbing and challenging films. In his words, "I am thinking of myself less strictly as an animator, and more as a movie-maker in general, and as a writer."
To learn more about the awards and to explore our new micro-site featuring an in-depth look at the five 2010 Alpert Award recipients, please visit www.alpertawards.org . The micro-site was produced in partnership with the Institute for Multimedia Literacy (IML), University of Southern California.
Herb Alpert, the legendary musician and artist who created the Herb Alpert Foundation with his wife Lani Hall and gave the first Alpert Award in the Arts in 1995 says, "All of this year's winners represent the essence of the Alpert Award in the Arts. They take aesthetic, intellectual and political risks. They challenge worn-out conventions, and they're unafraid of the unknown." Alpert made his artistic intentions clear in a 1998 interview in "The Force of Curiosity" with author Irene Borger. "You have to be as honest as you possibly can with yourself which is not always easy. I think that's one of the perks of working in a creative arena. That's why it's so important to have this outlet in the school system because when people get in touch with their own creativity, they get in touch with their humanity," he said. Herb Alpert grew up in Los Angeles embracing its multicultural influences. In both his musical and visual arts, Alpert fuses diverse cultural streams into fresh new forms.
"Inaugurated 16 years ago, on the heels of the NEA's cessation of its grants to individual artists, the Alpert Award was designed to acknowledge the importance of our artists and their significant contributions to our society," says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. "Herb recognized the pressing need to provide new funding mechanisms, and saw CalArts as the ideal partner to carry out his vision for building a new and innovative arts award program. CalArts shares our vision of the transformative power of the arts."
In the words of CalArts President Steven D. Lavine, "A remarkable number of awardees have achieved heightened prominence during the years following the awards and today the awards are firmly established as one of the truly good things that can come to artists in the United States. Moreover, year in and year out, CalArts students benefit as these exemplary artists come to campus for the residence that is a component of the awards."
"When I first visited the CalArts campus in 1990, it was a real exciting moment to see students being free and expressing themselves. I felt that CalArts was a really creative place where people could push the edges and come up with things that are different from what we've heard in the past," Alpert says of the partnership.
The award panelists over the years have included Tony Kushner, Julie Taymor, John Adams, Trisha Brown, Don Byron and David Harrington. Amongst the past 75 winners are choreographer Ralph Lemon, composer Derek Bermel, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and visual artists Cai Guo-Qiang, Paul Chan, and Catherine Opie.
In addition to the Alpert Award in the Arts, two years ago the Herb Alpert Foundation made a $15 million gift to CalArts' School of Music which, in gratitude, was named The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts . During the past 16 years, the Foundation has given grants to CalArts to support the Dizzy Gillespie Chair in music, the Dizzy Gillespie Recording Studio, music programs at the institute's REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater)  venue in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, student scholarships and youth community education programs through the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) .
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