Big Medium is pleased to announce Steve Parker as the winner of the second annual Tito’s Prize. The prize comes courtesy of a donation from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the Austin–based liquor company and includes a $15,000 award and a solo exhibition in the Big Medium Gallery, which will open with a special reception on Friday, October 19 and run through the East Austin Studio Tour.
Parker is a musician, artist, and curator who creates communal, democratic work to examine history, systems, and behavior. The Tito’s Prize is intended to provide an artist the means to take a new step in their career. Big Medium hopes the award will have a meaningful impact on Parker’s artistic practice and help deepen his roots in Austin.
“I'm immensely honored and grateful to Tito's and Big Medium for this opportunity. It's hard to describe how momentous this award will be for my practice. In the short term, it will provide me with the space, financial support, feedback, and platform to develop and refine a new gallery–oriented body of work. Looking forward, I am hopeful this opportunity will help me to wrestle with some fundamental questions in my own work, and in turn, equip me to make a positive, long term impact to some of our city's most pressing artistic, cultural, and social issues.” — Steve Parker
Parker was unanimously selected by a three person curatorial panel, including Andrea Mellard, Director of Public Programs & Community Engagement at The Contemporary Austin; Dennis Nance, Galveston Arts Center Curator and artist; and Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art.
“Steve Parker exemplifies the way contemporary artists push beyond the boundaries of genres and media towards the pursuit of creativity. His strong artistic practice in new music performance, in sites ranging from parks to parking lots, has expanded into public sound sculptures and more recently installations. His generous approach brings together groups of trained performers and even invites curious members of the public to participate in his scores. Steve Parker proposed a multi–faceted exhibition proposal grounded in acoustic research that will be sure to engage the diverse audiences of the East Austin Studio Tour. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to feature his work in the Big Medium Gallery as the winner of the Tito's Prize.” — Andrea Mellard
“Jurying the Tito's Prize was a great opportunity to see work being made by Austin–based artists. The process provided a truly unique opportunity to gain insight on the community of artists that make up an important part of the cultural fabric of Austin. It's also wonderful to see Tito's and Big Medium stepping up to provide such a great opportunity and support for artists working locally. Steve Parker's work was introduced to me through this process and demonstrated an outstanding commitment to collaborative works that intersect artists and audiences through sound and installation. I feel his proposed installation for Big Medium will provide a unique experience for visitors to engage with his work.” — Dennis Nance
“Steve Parker is a consummate collaborator. While he is best–known for communal performances he has staged in parks and public spaces in Austin in collaboration with musicians, sound engineers, choreographers, and dancers, he has recently been focusing more on sculptural sound installations. Dennis, Andrea, and I found the research he’s exploring for his next body of work very compelling—and can't wait to see how he presents the history of conflict through sound. So many contemporary artists are increasingly working with sound as a sculptural element and Parker's exhibition promises to incorporate sound into the visual arts in ways that will bring the Big Medium Gallery to life.” — Veronica Roberts
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is dedicated to supporting artists who live and work in Austin. Big Medium is honored to partner with Tito’s to elevate an artist in our community through this truly transformative prize for the second year in a row.
“Tito’s Handmade Vodka takes great pride in our creative community and those organizations such as Big Medium that help support and cultivate that creativity. It is our social responsibility to give back and directly support our artists by providing job opportunities while inviting the rest of our community to join us in doing so.” — Zack Flores, Director of Philanthropic Programming at Tito's Handmade Vodka
Andrea Mellard is the Director of Public Programs and Community Engagement for The Contemporary Austin. She curates programming and curates for the museum’s two distinct sites—one urban and the other natural—to bring audiences together to investigate art. Recent performance–based projects and exhibitions she organized bring the work of Charles Atlas, Janine Antoni & Stephen Petronio, Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Ragnar Kjartansson, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Lucky Dragons to Austin. Prior to the merger that created The Contemporary Austin, Mellard curated exhibitions and public programs for the Austin Museum of Art, working primarily with local and regional artists since 2004. The Crit Group program she has co–lead for five years provides group critique, professional development, and community building for Austin artists. She has over 17 years of museum experience and a M.A. in American Studies from The University of Texas inflects her interdisciplinary approach to contemporary culture. She aims to connect people with art, ideas, and each other.
Dennis Nance is an artist and curator from Houston, TX. He was appointed as Curator for the Galveston Arts Center in 2016. From 2007 to 2016, Nance was Exhibitions & Programming Director for Lawndale Art Center in Houston, where he worked extensively with local and regional artists through over 20 exhibitions annually and the Lawndale Artist Studio Program. He currently serves on the Artist Advisory Board for DiverseWorks. Nance is a practicing artist and was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance and an Idea Fund Award, administered through Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks Artspace and Project Row Houses and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, in 2015. He has exhibited his work at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Brandon, BOX13 ArtSpace and the Menil Collection bookstore. He received his BA from Austin College in Sherman, TX with a concentration in Fine Arts and French.
Veronica Roberts is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum. Her recent major exhibitions at the Blanton include Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser (2017) and Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt (2015). She is currently working on an exhibition with Vincent Valdez and in the research phase of a major thematic exhibition. Prior to joining the Blanton in 2013, she worked for numerous art museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art. She received her MA in Art History from UC Santa Barbara and her BA in Art History from Williams College.
Tito's Handmade Vodka is America's Original Craft Vodka. In 1997, Bert “Tito” Beveridge, now a 50–something geophysicist, obtained the first legal permit to distill in Texas and created Tito's Handmade Vodka. Tito distills his corn-based vodka using old–fashioned copper pot stills and the vodka is naturally Gluten–Free. Tito's Handmade Vodka has won the prestigious Double Gold Unanimous Judge's Choice at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, besting 72 of the world's premier vodka brands. Tito's continues to receive critical acclaim for its impeccably pure taste, affordability and brand growth. Tito's Handmade Vodka is distilled and bottled by Fifth Generation Inc. in Austin, Texas, and is available in Liter, 1.75L, 750ml, 375ml, 200ml and 50ml sizes. For more information, visit www.titosvodka.com.
Big Medium is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary art in Texas. Big Medium produces the East Austin Studio Tour, the West Austin Studio Tour, the Texas Biennial, and present innovative exhibitions throughout the year. Big Medium provides affordable studio space to artists, and partners with various organizations in Texas to help foster the arts and facilitate an inclusive cultural dialogue between artists and their communities.
The 2017 winner of the Tito's Prize was Zack Ingram.
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Big Medium is funded in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
Big Medium is also supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts and by generous contributions from private donors.