Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

OVERVIEW: The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation takes specific interest in American painters age 45 and up, whose work has not heretofore received adequate recognition, and who are in financial need.

IP TAKE: This foundation has a very specific grant focus—American painters at least age 45, not yet heralded, and in financial need. It’s niche to be sure, but if you fit the bill, there’s nothing else like it.

PROFILE: The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation is named for two artists who were actively involved in the artistic life of Cape Cod, particularly Provincetown. (In fact, it’s the Provincetown Art Association and Museum which now oversees the foundation’s work.)

The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation states that its primary emphasis is “to promote public awareness and commitment to American art, as well as encouraging interest in artists who lack adequate recognition.”

The foundation typically dispenses three to five grants annually, with amounts ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about painting. As the foundation defines it, and therefore to be an eligible visual artist for this grant, “painting is considered the application of various media (oil, acrylic, gouache, ink, tempera, watercolor, egg tempera, casein) on paper, canvas, fabric, or wood.” The foundation further defines what does not qualify: “mixed media, encaustic, collage, pastels, digital paintings, prints, and work in graphite or drawings.” The use of multiple paint mediums is allowed, so long as the work does not integrate any media from the excluded list.

Still with us? Now, be 45 or older. (It’s as simple as that.)

Less simply defined is what qualifies as “financial need.” The foundation doesn’t delve into it any further, but its application—which is an open process—requires you to detail your current finances: what you’ve netted in recent art sales, what your household income is, what your household expenses are, and more.

The foundation sees this financial component as enmeshed with artistic pursuits. As the foundation’s website explains it, Orlowsky in particular “was sensitive to the challenges artists face, especially those working against the mainstream or outside of popular schools of art. Her desire to provide financial support to mature artists... speaks to her passionate commitment to art for art’s sake and art created regardless of the demands and whims of the market place.” This also reflects back on a portion of the foundation’s emphasis—to support artists who have heretofore lacked adequate recognition.

And that brings us to that other, less simply defined, area: What qualifies a potential painter’s work as being “artistically worthy” of this grant? The foundation doesn’t explicitly give us an answer; it just expects the work to show “artistic quality” and “creative ability.”

But if you show that in your work, the foundation holds you to no further accountability. It has no reporting requirements and no stipulations about the use of the granted funds—“general operating support” at its most liberal.

Applications are judged anonymously, and the selection committee, which the foundation calls its “panel of jurors,” changes each year. For a frame of reference, the 2014 panel consisted of Faye Hirsch, editor at large for Art in America; Marshall Price, a curator for modern and contemporary art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University; and Shellburne Thurber, “an internationally known artist, who recently was awarded a fellowship from the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site”.

As you might imagine, this is a competitive grant (made all the more so because of its open application process). There were almost 500 candidates in 2014, applying from 34 states and four countries (you can be living abroad so long as you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.). The applicant age range was 45 to 84, and 63 percent of the applicants defined themselves as female.

Who came out on top? Here are the recipients of the 2014 Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant: Daniel Bodner (Provincetown, MA); Changha Hwang (New York, NY); Santiago Hernandez (Medford, MA) and Stephanie London (Glendale, CA).

The next round of applications are due at the beginning of April but if you have any question prior to sending your application, you can contact Grace Ryder-O'Malley


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