National Portrait Gallery Announces Winners of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

National Portrait Gallery Announces Winners of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition
“Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning” by Alison Elizabeth Taylor

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor as the first-prize winner of the sixth national Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Her prize-winning artwork “Anthony Cuts under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning” (2020) depicts Brooklyn, New York-based hair groomer Anthony Payne in a process that Taylor developed and named “marquetry hybrid.” Using vivid paints, inkjet prints, and the natural grains of over 100 veneers, Taylor created the multilayered portrait after encountering Payne who was offering donation-based haircuts to support Black Lives Matter despite his own workplace having been shuttered by the pandemic. The first prize portrait will be on view as part of “The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today,” co-curated by the competition’s director Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture, and Latinx art and history, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs. The exhibition will be on view at the Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., April 30 through Feb. 26, 2023, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

Held every three years, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is dedicated to supporting artists from across the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This year’s competition will include a touring exhibition featuring the 42 portraits that were selected by a jury from more than 2,700 open-call entries. The resulting exhibition addresses themes including the COVID-19 pandemic, demands for social justice, personal isolation, familial ties, community support, love and loss.

As winner of the first prize, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, a resident of Brooklyn, will receive $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection. The previous first-prize winners are David Lenz (2006), Dave Woody (2009), Bo Gehring (2013), Amy Sherald (2016) and Hugo Crosthwaite (2019). Second prize this year was awarded to Tom Jones of Madison, Wisconsin, who submitted a photograph incorporating beads, shells and rhinestones, entitled “Elizah Leonard” (from the series “Strong Unrelenting Spirits”) (2019). Third prize was awarded to Pao Houa Her of Blaine, Minnesota, for her photograph “untitled (man)” (2019).

This year’s commended artists are Elsa María Meléndez of Caguas, Puerto Rico, for “Milk” (2020); collaborators Joel Daniel Phillips and Quraysh Ali Lansana of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for their multimedia portrait comprising a drawing entitled “Killed Negative #13 / After Arthur Rothstein” (from the series “Killing the Negative”) and the poem “hospitality” (2020); Stuart Robertson of Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for “Self-Portrait of the Artist” (from the series “Out and Bad”) (2020); and Vincent Valdez of Houston, Texas, for “People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana)” (2019).

Museum visitors and online viewers will be able to cast a vote online for their favorite finalist to receive the People’s Choice Award from April 30 through Oct.16. Winning artworks from the competition’s teen edition, organized by the Portrait Gallery’s Teen Museum Council, will be installed in late summer 2022.

Jurors for the 2022 Competition were Kathleen Ash-Milby, Catherine Opie, Ebony G. Patterson, and John Yau, and Portrait Gallery curators Caragol, Ureña and Dorothy Moss.

The competition and exhibition are made possible by the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Endowment, which was established by Virginia Outwin Boochever, a longtime docent at the National Portrait Gallery. The endowment is sustained by her family.