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What is the SD Art Prize?

The San Diego Art Prize is an annual award that honors exceptional artistic expression in the San Diego cross-border region from Fallbrook to Ensenada, Mexico. The 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. It was conceived to promote and encourage public interest in San Diego's contemporary art scene and engage the community in critical dialogue about our rich and diverse artistic region. 


The Art Prize was originally inspired by the Turner Prize which created a BUZZ of interest and excitement for contemporary art in the United Kingdom back in 1986. With this in mind, the San Diego Visual Arts Network (SDVAN) founded the Art Prize in 2006. Since the inauguration of the Art Prize, SDVAN has awarded more than 70K dollars to support and celebrate local artists for their exceptional creative expression which enriches our region. 

Traditionally the Art Prize Committee selected established artists who chose emerging artists for the final exhibitions. As of 2020 the Art Prize has eliminated the established and emerging artist designation and will celebrate exceptional artists of merit at any stage in their career.

Artist eligibility guidelines are:

  1. Outstanding creativity in exhibitions or other public presentations of art in the last three years.

  2. Live/work in San Diego County and Baja Norte region (Fallbrook to Ensenada, East to Tecate).

  3. No age restrictions; artists can have a breakthrough at any age.

  4. Artists are eligible to win the prize only once. 


Each year arts professionals from different sectors of our region's creative ecosystem come together to nominate artists to be considered for the Art Prize. This ensures nominations vary from year to year and come from a broad perspective with fresh insight. Nominations come from the Art Prize Committee, the Art Prize Advisory Committee, the current year's Art Prize winners, the arts professionals invited to write about the winners for the catalogue, and the institution that hosts the prize. (See committees below.)

SD Art Prize Committee

The Art Prize Committee is made up of permanent members who each nominate artists and make the final vote on the nominee selection.

Alessandra Moctezuma - director of San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery

Chi Essary - SD Art Prize Administrator/Curator, Vanguard Culture Board member,

     Independent Curator

Debra Poteet - prominent collector

Felicia Shaw - Executive Director, Women's Museum of California & Founder, Rising Arts Leaders

Erika Torri - director of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

Patricia Frischer - coordinator and founder, San Diego Visual Arts Network

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee, created in 2021, is made up of arts professionals for a term of two years who also nominate and vote on the nominee selection. 

2021- 2022
Arturo Rodriguez - Director La Caja Gallery, Tijuana, Mexico 

Johnny Tran - Owner Thumbprint Gallery, San Diego

Participating Arts Professionals

Each year, four arts professionals are invited to write about the Art Prize winners for the catalogue and they are invited to nominate for the following year. 

Adriana Martínez Noriega - Independent Curator, Writer, Cultural Activist, Mexico City
Anthony Graham - Assistant Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Eve Wood - Artillery Magazine Arts Writer, Los Angeles

Seth Combs  - Arts Columnist and Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune 

Susana Bautista - Los Angeles Museum Advisor 

Julia Dixon Evans - Arts Calendar Editor/Producer KPBS

Christine E. Jones  - Chief of Civic Art Strategies, 

      The City of San Diego, Commission for   Arts and Culture.

Maria Mingalone - Executive Director of Oceanside Museum


Stephanie Hanor, Derrick Cartwright, Teddy Cruz, Mary Beebe, Amy Adler, Tina Yapelli, Alice Diamond, Kevin Freitas, Ellen Phelan, Betti-Sue Hertz, Lucia Sanroman, Erika Torri, Doug Simay,
Larry and Debra Poteet, Gabrielle Wyrick, Robin Clark, Katherine Sweetman, Vallo Riberta,
Laurie Mitchell, Karen McGuire, Lauren Buscemi, Mark Quint, Alessandra Moctezuma, Heriberto Yepez, Tom Noel and Larry Baza, Chris Martino, Alexander Salazar, Ellen Salk, Robin Bright, Terry Sowell,

Amy Galpin, Sally Yard, Leah Olman, Natalie Haddad, Scott White, Betsy Lane, Rob Sidner,
Catherine Gleason, David Antin, Daniel Foster, Danielle Susalla Derry, Constance Y. White,
Roxana Velásquez, Kathryn Kanjo, Ben Strauss-Malcolm, Tara Centybear, Mark Murphy, Ginger Porcella, Alex Zaragoza, Melinda Chiment, Norma Iglesias-Prieto, Jim Ruland, Neil Kendricks, Deborah Klochko, Julio Romano, Hugh Davies, Katie Clark, Dave Hampton, Jill Dawsey

SD Art Prize presented by:
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