"Mesa"

"Mesa" sculpture by David Knopp (Baltimore Sun / April 25, 2012)

A musician, a sculptor and a multidisciplinary artist are the winners of this year's $25,000 Baker Awards, given annually to artists from the Baltimore area.

The winners, chosen by a jury of national experts, are musician Nathan Bell, best known for his innovative banjo work; Alexander Heilner, whose works in photography, video, digital imaging, lighting design and sculpture include manipulated aerial images from the U.S. and Dubai; and self-taught sculptor David Knopp.

The diverse nature of this year's winners is a testament to the "vibrancy of the arts community in the Baltimore area," said Jeannie Howe, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, which administers the awards. The $25,000 prizes, and the monthlong exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art that comes with them, "really help to raise the profiles of some people who are incredibly talented," she added.

The three winners were chosen from 710 nominations.

Nine awards of $1,000 each, known as b-grants, were given to Brent Crothers, Miranda Pfeiffer, Tiffany Jones, Chris Bathgate, Lauren Simonutti, Yoshi Fujii, Smooth Kentucky, Eileen Durkan and Marcia Wolfson Ray. Additional $500 grants were given to Kentucky and Pfeiffer.

Winners were announced Wednesday night on Maryland Public Television's "ArtWorks Special: The Baker Artist Awards 2012." The work of all 12 prize winners will be featured in a BMA show running Sept. 5-Oct. 7. Their work can also be viewed on the Baker Awards website, bakerartistawards.org.

This is the fourth year for the Baker Awards, which since 2009 have given $342,000 to 50 Baltimore-area artists.

The prizes are awarded through the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, established in 1964 by Mary Sawyers Baker in honor of her late husband, a founding partner in the Baltimore investment banking firm of Baker Watts.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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