Porterfield, filmmaker of 'Putty Hill,' wins 2011 Sondheim Prize

Matthew Porterfield, the filmmaker behind "Putty Hill" and "Hamilton," was named the winner of the sixth annual Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize on Saturday.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts announced the winner of the $25,000 fellowship given every year in conjunction with Artscape at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where his installation is on display.

"I'm speechless. To be a finalist among such fine artists is such an honor," Porterfield said Saturday night. A panel of four outside jurors chose Porterfield, who competed with four other finalists, all of whom are visual artists from the Baltimore region.

He said he plans to use the funds from the fellowship "to pay off some debt" and support himself while he starts working on another film in August — "to keep telling the stories I want to tell."

In 2010, his film "Putty Hill" premiered at the Berlinale's International Forum of New Cinema. It was released by Cinema Guild in February. The film "Hamilton," which he wrote, directed and edited, was released in 2006, and his film "Metal Gods" was released two years later.

His winning installation on display at the BMA spans one wall with six dozen 20-by-30-inch cellphone pictures that form a large, mosaic-like work. On the opposite wall is a monitor showing a video montage of the same pictures and additional ones.

"It is a personal work in that they are all scenes from [my] daily life. ... They celebrate the everyday and offer a way of seeing and making sense of the world," he told The Sun in an interview last month.

Porterfield is a Baltimore native who teaches screenwriting, film theory and production at the Johns Hopkins University. He was a Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize finalist in 2010.

In addition to Porterfield's work, the work of the other four finalists — Stephanie Barber, Louie Palu, Mark Parascandola and Rachel Rotenberg — will remain on display through Aug. 7 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Free admission. Call 443-573-1700 or go to