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Charlotte Street Foundation Announces 2012 Visual Artist Awards

Since 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has awarded more than $600,000 to artists, the bulk of which has gone to visual artists.

As the 2012 Visual Artist Award Fellows, Anne Austin Pearce, Marcus Cain, and Luke Rocha will each receive $10,000 in unrestricted funds.

Ten studio visits by arts professionals over two days whittled down the ten semi-finalists to the three award-winners.

Anne Pearce and Marcus Cain share dual roles as curators and artists: Pearce at Greenlease Gallery at Rockhurst University and Cain at Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art (KCJMCA)'s Epsten Gallery at Village Shalom, where he now serves as executive director. Both also studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and have collaborated in exhibitions in the past.

Pearce says she received a call during class (she teaches at Rockhurst University) and a follow-up text with the news from the Charlotte Street Foundation's founder/director David Hughes.

"I was completely overwhelmed and delighted that I was selected," says Pearce. "It's just an honor, really."

According to Cain, this is the 11th time he's been nominated and prepared his portfolio for review. He hadn't allowed himself - until now - to make plans.

"I know it will go into my studio practice, it will go into my career as an artist," says Cain. "I want to take a little bit of time to think about it, so I don't make any rash decisions."

Cain expects he'll purchase supplies that will allow him to work "in a larger scale" for upcoming exhibits at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art and at the H&R Block Artspace.

The third recipient of the award, and the youngest, Luke Rocha, is a largely self-taught artist. He says he learned the craft from watching his father, a courtroom artist.

In terms of showing his work in galleries, Rocha says he feels like he "got a late start." But this award provides validation that he's heading in the right direction.

"To me, it was more of an awesome opportunity for me to make a career out of this," says Rocha.

The work of the 2012 Visual Artist Award Fellows will be included in a group show at the H&R BlockArtspacein October 2012.

Laura Spencer is staff writer/editor at the Kansas City Public Library and a former arts reporter at KCUR.
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