Athena LaTocha, a Peekskill-based artist whose massive mixed-media works on paper explore the relationship between human-made and natural worlds, was named the first recipient of the Pocantico Prize for Visual Artists, which pairs a $25,000 cash prize with a two-month artist residency at the new David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center (DR Center) at Pocantico. LaTocha will begin her two-month residency at the DR Center when it opens in Fall 2022.
The DR Center also named Arts10566, which provides free arts programs for the diverse youth populations of Peekskill and surrounding towns, the recipient of an annual grant that provide them access to the 900-square-foot DR Center studio as a satellite location to conduct programs, workshops, exhibitions, performances, and other artistic initiatives for up to six months.
In alternating years, the Prize for Visual Arts will be awarded to a visual artist working in the Hudson Valley and one chosen from a national pool. Pocantico Prize awardees are nominated by select arts organizations (including El Museo del Barrio, MoMA PS1, Studio Museum of Harlem, Wave Hill, the Katonah Museum, and Arts Westchester) and leaders in the field, with winners chosen by a jury of RBF staff and outside experts. Nominators will seek out artists who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color; disabled; women or gender non-binary; or other groups that have been denied opportunities or recognition and who demonstrate a trajectory of artistic excellence and show promise for further growth and societal impact.
“Art helps shape how we see and understand the world, and the artists who create it are indispensable in this moment of democratic erosion, racial and gender injustice, and accelerating climate change,” said Ben Rodriguez Cubeñas, director of the Culpeper Arts and Culture program at the RBF. “The creative process is real work—it requires time and resources. We hope the Pocantico Prize will help fill the gap for individual artists whose perspective and ideas may help us grapple with these challenging times.”
The Pocantico Prize is funded by the RBF Culpeper Arts and Culture program, which supports the creative process through grants to arts organizations in the Fund’s home city of New York. Since 2012, the program has funded performing arts residencies for grantees at The Pocantico Center. The new artists’ studio in the DR Center at Pocantico will expand the residency program to directly support visual artists for the first time.
“The Hudson Valley is home to a rich cultural landscape,” said Elly Weisenberg Kelly, manager of public programs and residencies at The Pocantico Center. “The community arts residency will allow us to deepen partnerships with local arts organizations and place them in dialogue with both artistic perspectives from across the country and new and diverse audiences in our neighborhoods.”