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SD Art Prize Recipients



SD Art Prize Recipients 2021

SD Art Prize Catalog 2021

The SD Art Prize 2021 recipients reflect the rich and varied trans-national experience that makes our region truly unique. Living and working on either side of the border; whether they are US or Mexican born, immigrant or mixed national parents, all experience this trans-national life from an individual vantage point. The 2021 SD Art Prize recipients share their singular vision through their art, enriching our community with their stories.

Beliz Iristay


Photo Credit: zeynep Dogu

Beliz Iristay studied traditional Turkish ceramics at Izmir Dokuz Eylul University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics. She moved to the United States in 2005 and recently built her ceramic studio in the Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada, Mexico. There she incorporates local clay into her practice while exploring traditional & contemporary ceramics. 


In her work, Iristay often uses the traditions of her "home countries", Turkey, Mexico, and the US, and combines them with contemporary techniques. She collects the subject materials for her work from the traditions, politics and gender issues of the countries she lives in. 


Iristay has shown work in the Bienal de Estandartes, Tijuana, Mexico; Balboa Park Centennial, San Diego, CA; El Paso Museum of Border Art, El Paso, TX; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; LUX Art Institute, Encinitas, CA; and many more. Her installation at the El Paso Museum of Art Border Biennale won first prize and she has won individual prizes in the National Ceramic Biennale of Mexico; 4th National Ceramic Biennale of California, Brea, CA; and UNICOM Jury’s choice, International Ceramic Biennale, Ljubliana, Slovenia. She was first nominated for the SD Art Prize in 2015 and became a SD Art Prize recipient in 2021.

Hugo Crosthwaite


Hugo Crosthwaite was born in Tijuana and spent his formative years in Rosarito, Mexico.  An American citizen with family on both sides of the border, he graduated from San Diego State University in 1997 with a BA in Applied Arts. Crosthwaite lives and works in Rosarito, Mexico and San Diego, CA.  


Allowing the act of drawing to dictate his compositions in works that range from intimate drawings to large scale murals, Hugo Crosthwaite juxtaposes a wide range of textural and tonal ranges with a deep respect for the narrative.


Crosthwaite is the 2019 winner of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.  His works are included in the permanent collections Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; San Diego Museum of Art, CA; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL; the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; The Progressive Art Collection, and numerous private collections around the world.



Born in Chula Vista, CA, to Mexican parents, PANCA is an Illustrator-Painter-Muralist- Installation Artist that resides in Tijuana, Mexico. She grew up speaking English at school and the "outside" while exclusively speaking Spanish at home and spending weekends and all holidays with family in Mexico. Her parents felt it very important to keep her connected to her heritage. She has been working between Mexico and the United States since 2004.

This binational, bilingual and bicultural artist feeds her art from her experiences living and working in Tijuana and San Diego. These very personal yet contrasting experiences fill her work with raw emotion, isolation and nostalgia as it pours out full of symbolism.


Her work has shown in museums, galleries, magazines, Netflix movie sets, on the streets and tattoo design. Her most recent work was featured in a fully published book in partnership with Bread & Salt gallery. 

Perry Vásquez


Perry Vásquez was trained as an artist and designer. He lives in the San Diego/Tijuana area and draws inspiration from the region’s bi-national cultural milieu. His father was born in East Chicago, Indiana, into a family of Mexican migrant workers. His mother was born in West Virginia, as a coal miner’s daughter. His parents met in Los Angeles where he was born in 1959. At age 7 his parents divorced and his mother subsequently relocated him and his brother to North Carolina where they took up temporary residence with their grandmother who lived next door to a free-will Baptist church. A Catholic son of Southern California, he was abruptly dropped into a predominantly white, Protestant, evangelical cultural environment where his odyssey as an Appala-Chicano began. Since then he has blended both Mexican, American, Catholic and Protestant cultural influences into his work. He has a life-long love of learning and has degrees in Political Science and Painting from Stanford University and Painting and Criticism from UC San Diego. 

Vásquez is co-creator of the Keep on Crossin', a seminal project in the development of the San Diego/Tijuana border art scene. Vásquez has produced a range of works across different media. Among his other works are The Gates of Heck, inspired by the mythologies of superhero-dom and Rodin’s Porte de l’Enfer, and Under the Perfect Sun, a series of paintings that explore the myths of Southern California and its changing landscape. Vásquez was recently selected to create murals for the new San Diego County Probation Building and has work in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. 

SD Art Prize Recipients 2020

SD Art Prize Catalog 2020

The San Diego Art Prize begins its 14th year with an exciting first! This year marks the first time all four nominees are women. Coincidentally, 2020 is the centennial for women's suffrage in the US and aptly named "Year of the woman". We are so pleased that, through an anonymous vote, the Art Prize committee selected Alanna Airitam, Kaori Fukuyama, Griselda Rosas, and Melissa Walter as the four nominees for the prize. Congratulations to these extraordinarily talented artists who have graced San Diego with their creativity and unique visions. 


Founded by the San Diego Visual Arts Network in 2006, the SD Art Prize is dedicated to the idea that the visual arts are a necessary and rewarding ingredient of any world-class city and a building block of the lifestyle of its residents. Conceived to promote and encourage community dialogue about San Diego's contemporary art scene, as well as engaging the public in critical dialogue about San Diego’s artistic and cultural life, this annual award honors exceptional artistic expression.


Originally, the Art Prize committee selected 2-3 established San Diego artists who then chose emerging artists to feature in the final exhibitions. This year the committee has eliminated the "established" and "emerging" artist distinction and focused the prize on celebrating the artists in SD who have demonstrated outstanding creativity and who have added vitality to our arts community through their extraordinary contributions. San Diego has a wealth of amazing artists and the Art Prize endeavors to recognize artists of merit by supporting and promoting those artists who are actively working to build their career and contribute to the San Diego arts community.

Alanna Airitam


Photographer ALANNA AIRTRAM was born in Queens, New York and now resides in San Diego, California. As a portrait photographer, her work focuses on identity and representation, and proposes an investigation into the concept of wholeness. Her use of chiaroscuro lighting creates a painterly effect, that coupled with her use of symbolism allows her to explore the duality of light and dark both metaphorically and literally. Her subjects are illuminated in a way that calls for them to be viewed as the counter to contemporary stereotypes.

Airitam’s images have been published in a variety of national and international media outlets such as Chicago Tribune, BBC News, VICE!, The Huck, Lenscratch, Range Finder, Feature Shoot, and the San Diego Tribune, among many others. Airitam has exhibited at Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, San Diego Art Institute, Art Miami, and Bread & Salt in San Diego, California. An award winning short film From Haarlem to Harlem about Alanna Airitam’s body of work The Golden Age has been screened at various film festivals around the United States. 

Kaori Fukuyama

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KAORI FUKUYAMA is a multi-disciplinary

artist from Japan, who lives and works in San

Diego.  She creates paintings, drawings,

sculptures, and site-specific installations that

explore the interactions of color, light and shadow.  Her subtle and delicately balanced work plays with our visual perception, and often invites us to slow down and be present in the moment.  

Griselda Rosas


GRISELDA ROSAS, Born and Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, is an artist and educator from the border region. Her artwork falls under the umbrella of Post-Colonial art, in the way it addresses issues of identity, ethnicity and gender practices creating installation, sculpture, site-specific, curatorial projects and stitching-Paintings decolonizing imagery. 

Griselda’s work has been exhibited in national and international venues, The Florence Biennale, Italy, The Barrett Art Centre, New York, art residency at the Camac art Centre- UNESCO program Marnay, France, Bread & Salt Gallery, San Diego, CA and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.


Granted a fellowship through the minister of Mexican Culture -FONCA, 2016-2019 -   developing a research on the aesthetics of Mexican female traditional clothing, -presenting and publishing her research at the 56th International Congress of Americanists (ICA) Salamanca, Spain 2018. Griselda's work has a strong relationship with poetry and mind wandering, speaks about the ecosystem’s fragility through an implicit construction of historical-imagery-memorabilia. 

Melissa Walter


MELISSA WALTER is best known for her optically stimulating sculptures of twisting paper and drawings of detailed geometric patterns. She visually explores concepts concerning Astronomy and astrophysical theories. Walter has worked as a graphic designer and science illustrator for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and as a team member of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her experience has inspired her to visually articulate wonders of the Universe, such as black holes, supernovas, neutron stars, dark matter and more recently, dark energy.


Walter has completed artist in residence programs at 1805 Gallery and Bread & Salt, and participated in exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center, Quint Gallery, the San Diego Art Institute, Torrance Art Museum, Helmuth Projects and the San Diego International Airport for a temporary exhibition titled Intergalactic Dreaming in 2017. She received her BFA, cum laude from the University of Rhode Island in 1998.


SD Art Prize Recipients 2018/19

SD Art Prize Catalog 2018 

Erin Dace Behling

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ERIN DACE BEHLING is a designer, furniture maker and educator based in San Diego, CA. She holds an MFA from San Diego State University and BFA from Herron School of Art & Design; both degrees were emphasized in furniture design and woodworking. Behling currently teaches at community colleges in the greater San Diego area. She has shown work at several galleries in Southern California including Lois Lambert Gallery of Functional Art, The La Jolla Athenaeum, Alexander Salazar White Box Contemporary, William D. Cannon Art Gallery, Art SD Contemporary show. In her own work, Behling utilizes the language of furniture to explore various mediums such as wood, fiberglass, plastic, concrete, foam, asphalt shingles and fibers, while striving to arrange a setting where they are able to cohesively exist. In her current series, Candyland, Behling explores geometry as she is interested in the repetitious nature and how shapes can result in forms through this repetitious patterning and mathematical formulas. She is drawn to these forms as they are calming yet mystical and often found in nature. She spends time in the desert, exploring the subtleties of life within the harsh environment, finding hints of color in a sea of seemingly flat, neutral tones. Erin Behling depicts this beauty by creating functional furniture forms and seeks to create a landscape within each object.


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MAX ROBERT DAILY is a San Diego based artist working in visual art and performance, incorporating media ranging from drawing and sculptor, to puppetry and mime. Along with being a published author of children’s illustration books, Daily is a butcher by trade and the proprietor of Oslo sardine bar-cum-installation artwork at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan. Prior to attending the prestigious Cotsen Center for Puppetry at CalArts, Daily was a student of set design at San Diego City College and resident puppeteer at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park. Daily remains an avid advocate of the Balboa-based Theater where he also received the Jim Henson Family grant award for his production of Peter and the Wolf.


Robert Matheny head shot by Robert Schne
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ROBERT MATHENY made his first painting and first

sculpture, as an adult, in 1963 and has been making 

art ever since because it pleased and challenged his

intellect.  He likes solving problems and using new

materials and especially likes working with ideas. He

is a sculptor, painter, jeweler, graphic designer, film-

maker, small press operator, and performer.  He was

founder of the art department and gallery at South-

western College. They owe the start of their perm-

anent collection of contemporary art to him, as well

as great exhibitions including the art of John Baldessari

in 1962, the very first show.  Since his retirement in 1991, he has completed many different series of work spending just about every day in his studio. Matheny studied under art department chair John Olsen, Stan Hodge and others at Long Beach State College. He earned a MA degree in art education. He has had a museum show at the CECUT in Tijuana, Mexico, numerous one-person shows in San Diego including the Nexus Gallery in La Jolla and a few group shows in the Los Angeles area. Bob Matheny cannot imagine not making art.


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ANNE MUDGE is a nationally acclaimed sculptor and public artist who lives and works in northern San

Diego County on a property shared by her nursery-man husband. The specialized landscapes of his trade

have frequently informed her work, as do her daily nature walks, which she documents through photo-

graphs. The core of her work has to do with process. Whether it’s as simple as working in call and response

to the materials at hand in her studio or working with-in the context of a public space, she looks for the living edge – that liminal space that only reveals itself when the initial conditions of environment, materials, and conceptual intent engage in a kind of dance. Mudge likes being surprised by outcomes that defy meddling preconceptions and exhibit the rich complexity of innumerable inputs, resulting in an unexpected synthesis. She often employs labor-intensive collaborations with materials and processes to reference living forms and systems. She has a passion for the environment and a belief that opening pathways to experiencing it is critical to our wellbeing, and that art plays an important role in awakening our senses to the multiplicities of colors and sounds and textures that too often escape our notice within our cloistered human surroundings.


Mudge has shown in San Diego at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego Museum of Art, California Center for the Arts Museum, as well as the List Visual Arts Center at M.I.T., Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Metropolitan Museum and Art Center in Coral Gables, Florida and at numerous college and university galleries. Her public art commissions include the North Park Gateway at University Avenue and Boundary Street, San Diego; the San Diego State University Transit Center, which was awarded the Grand Orchid under sponsorship by the San Diego Architectural Foundation; curbside seating for Lindbergh Field at the San Diego International Airport; suspended sculptures for the County of San Diego’s Planning and Permit Building; and interpretive mosaics of the surrounding natural habitat for the City of Moorpark, CA. She is represented by Quint Gallery, San Diego.

Cy Kuchenbaker with Rizzhel Mae Javier 
Fu/Rich with Alexander Kohnke

SD Art Prize Catalog 2017

Irma Sofia Poeter with emerging artist Shinpei Takeda 
Richard Keely with emerging artist William Feeney

SD Art Prize Catalog 2016

Wendy Maruyama with emerging artist Peter Scheidt 
Roy McMakin with emerging artist Kevin Inman

SD Art Prize Catalog 2015 


Marianela de la Hoz with emerging artist Bhavna Mehta 
Philipp Scholz Rittermann with emerging artist Joseph Huppert

SD Art Prize Catalog 2014 

James Hubbell with emerging artist Brennan Hubbell 
Debby and Larry Kline  with emerging artist James Enos

SD Art Prize Catalog 2013

Arline Fisch with emerging artist Vincent Robles 
Jeffery Laudenslager with emerging artist Deanne Sabeck

SD Art Prize Catalog 2012

Rubén Ortiz-Torres with emerging artist Tristan Shone 
Jay Johnson with emerging artist Adam Belt

SD Art Prize Catalog 2011

Gail Roberts with emerging artist David Adey  
Einar and Jamex de la Torre with emerging artist Julio Orozco

SD Art Prize Catalog 2010 

Kim MacConnel with emerging artist Brian Dick 
Richard Allen Morris with emerging artist Tom Driscoll

SD Art Prize Catalog 2009 

Marcos Ramirez ERRE with emerging artist Allison Wiese 
Roman De Salvo with emerging artist Lael Corbin 
Eleanor Antin with emerging artist Pamela Jaeger 

SD Art Prize Catalog 2007/2008 

Raul Guerrero with emerging artist Yvonne Venegas 
Jean Lowe with emerging artist Iana Quesnell
Ernest Silva with emerging artist May-ling Martinez

SD Art Prize Catalog 2006/2007

The SD Art Prize is presented by 
SD Visual Arts Network
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