Fine Line Group, the Family offices of Sasha and Edward P. Bass, announced $150,000 in grants awarded through “THE NEW NORMAL (TNN) Rockport” Thursday, Sept. 3. Following a juried review of applicant proposals and past work, 43 Rockport artists were selected to receive funding for the creation of new artwork that reflects life in Rockport during an unprecedented time.

Developed by Mrs. Sasha Bass in partnership with program administrator Lauren Saba Childs, TNN Rockport is the second in a series of funding initiatives designed to achieve multiple goals: quickly empowering local artists to work, creating a lasting visual record of this historical moment in time, and bringing the people of Rockport together to share, process, and heal through art.

Applicants to TNN submitted a personal statement previewing the work they intend to create and explaining how through their art, they will make a lasting positive impact on the community. A panel comprised of leaders from Rockport’s art community and institutions, including the Rockport Center for the Arts, the Art Museum of South Texas, Moroles Art Co, and K Space Contemporary, reviewed and scored the applications. The top 43 received $2,000 grants to fund their proposed artwork. Of those, the 19 artists with the highest scores received an additional $3,000 award.

“2020 will be remembered for its abundant uncertainty and its lack of direction. That changed for Rockport’s art community when TNN Rockport launched,” said Rockport Center for the Arts (RCA) Executive Director Luis Purón, a member of the TNN selection panel. “This one-of-a-kind grant initiative puts desperately needed income directly into the hands of our local artists, whose shows and exhibitions have been repeatedly cancelled, not just over the last few months, but for the last several years. We are grateful to the Fine Line Group and the Gallery of Dreams for investing in Rockport’s artists, and we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the continuing support of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation. Together, they are not only making a real difference for our artists, but they are helping to create a body of work that documents our town’s hardship and resilience.”

“Capturing the artistic richness of this city, which is so close to our hearts, TNN provides critical funding to gifted artists whose work will bring the community together, both to reflect on recent events, and also, to celebrate Rockport’s strength,” said the founder of TNN, Mrs. Bass, along with her husband Edward P. Bass. “Rockport’s artistic soul and generous spirit were on full display in every artist’s submission. United by a firm belief in the power of art to galvanize healing and change, every applicant proposed work that reflected the different ways this diverse community struggles with and overcomes challenge, encouraging all of us to listen, reflect, and join with our neighbors to heal.”

Examples of artwork funded by TNN Rockport include:

• Collaborative group art projects

• Public murals the community will be invited to help create

• Free community workshops

• Portrait projects that capture the diverse faces of Rockport

• Paintings inspired by crowd-sourced commentary and storytelling

The program will culminate in a future public exhibition of grant recipients’ work. Given the current circumstances and continued uncertainty around future public gatherings, the timing of the exhibition will be confirmed at a later date.

Grant-winning sculptor Danya Heck said, “When we share our stories, our pains, our joys, through art, it resonates because those emotions and vulnerabilities connect us as humans. Rockport’s art community is a source of strength and inspiration for me and so many others. We are a community of artists who stand up, support, and cheer each other on to keep growing. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. I’m beyond grateful that TNN is helping to preserve that.”

Mae Burke, a photographer and $5,000 grant recipient, acknowledged a lack of diversity in her own work and will create a series of portraits that honor “Rockport’s colorful humanity” through honest and artistic depictions of the generations of Vietnamese and Thai shrimpers who helped build Rockport and who still today, help its economy thrive.

“Family recipes of cilantro, lime, and chilies define the taste of Rockport in our pho and taquerias. We have glorified the flora and fauna of our sweet city through every medium imaginable. Through my own multiracial lens, my work will be celebratory reflection of our people and their stories,” said Burke.

Sculptor Stan Irvin, who was also awarded a $5,000 grant, said, “I believe art strengthens the community as a whole through shared experience. The racial inequalities that have been highlighted in the current Black Lives Matter Movement is a result of an inability to see beyond stereotypes and/or have empathy for the experiences of others. Art is a direct contradiction to the notion of division, separation, and animosity. Creativity challenges us all to consider the importance of the health and well-being of all, and TNN has inspired me to further explore and share these themes in my work.”

Funded together by the Fine Line Group and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation, TNN Rockport was administered by Gallery of Dreams, a Fort Worth nonprofit arts organization established by Lauren Saba Childs of Fort Works Art.

The TNN Rockport selection panel included Purón, RCA Curator of Exhibitions Elena Rodriguez, Art Museum of South Texas Director Sara Sells Morgan, K Space Contemporary Executive Director Michelle Smythe, and MorolesArtCo. Co-founder Suzanna Moroles.

$5,000 award recipients

The 19 artists receiving a $5,000 award are Mae Burke, Anita Diebel, Debra Chronister, Stan Irvin, Kelly Schaub, Miriam Braniff, Steven Russell, Jamie Speck, Shirley Blackman, Juleanna Fuller, Sally Mitchell, Diane Johnson, Marnie Long, Rebecca Rice, Barbara Sparkman, Carol Koutnik, John Martell, Genie Mysorski, and Maria Nesbit.

• • • • •

$2,000 award recipients

Those receiving a $2,000 award are Teenya Barnard, Angalee DeForest, Danya Heck, Kacie Mahlmann, Eric Von Seibert, Betty Shamel, Janice Bartke-Thompson, Mike Catlin, Robin Hazard, Fern Olson, Michael Pence, Barb Robinson, Terry Baiamonte, C. Michael Couvillion, Gail Dentler, Teresa Fajardo Lambert, Shelly Grappe, Amanda Howell, Mary Klesse, Kimmi Norvell Moake, Gary Hanner, Lorrie Harrington, and Kenneth Reese.

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