NEA fellowships given to three local artistsWhile...


NEA fellowships given to three local artists

While the arts world has focused in recent months ocongressional debate on the future of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA has been going about its business of awarding grants and fellowships. Earlier this month, it gave three of its most prestigious awards to Baltimore artists.

The three -- photographers Lisa Lewenz and Jeff Gates and sculptor Linda Bills -- were among 177 artists nationwide to receive the NEA's Visual Artists Fellowships. They were selected from more than 5,000 applicants and their work, in the words of NEA Chairman John E. Frohnmayer, "suggest a potential for enduring greatness."

Ms. Lewenz, one of 83 artists to receive a $20,000 fellowship, says she will use the money to help complete a decadelong project of restoring home movies and negatives taken by her grandmother during the rise of Nazi Germany in the early 1930s. The 35-year-old photographer, who is director of the College of Notre Dame's Gormley Gallery, is interspersing the restored images taken by her grandmother, who died the year before she was born, with her own photographs of latter-day Germany.

Mr. Gates, 41, and Ms. Bills, 47, were recipients of $5,000 grants given to artists working 10 years or less. Mr. Gates, who teaches at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and the University of Maryland at College Park, does image and text pieces rich with irony that "get across points about power and control," he says. Ms. Bills, whose work was shown at the 1989 Maryland Invitational at the Baltimore Museum of Art, works with tree bark to create what she describes as "very simple forms with combinations of different visual references" ranging from Shaker deco.

Because the grants to all three artists were given under the NEA's 1990 appropriation, all had to sign the endowment's controversial "anti-obscenity" pledge promising not to create works that "may be considered obscene" as a condition for obtaining the grant. All three did so but included letters of protest.

Vocal competition

The Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture iaccepting applications for the second annual Billie Holiday Vocal Competition to identify talented new singers.

The competition has a first prize of $1,500 and a spot on the program of Artscape '91, a second prize of $1,000 and a third prize of $500. Contestants must be 18 or older by the application deadline of Jan. 4, 1991, and must reside in Baltimore City or Baltimore County. They cannot have a present or past affiliation with a record company, talent agency or management firm.

Contestants will be whittled down to no more than 25 by Feb. 27 through preliminary auditions by cassette recordings. Live semifinal and final rounds will be held April 6 at the Walters Art Gallery, where the three winners will be selected by a panel of judges.

4 For applications and information, call 396-4575.

Handel Choir program

The Handel Choir of Baltimore opens its 56th season at 3 p.mtoday at the Basilica of the Assumption, Charles and Mulberry streets, with a program of works for brass, chorus and organ.

Among the works on the schedule are Gabrieli's "In Ecclesiis" and "O Magnum Mysterium" and Thomas Tallis' 40-part motet "Spem in Alium."

The concert is one of seven scheduled this season by the choir, which is directed by T. Herbert Dimmock, including four December performances of Handel's "Messiah."

Tickets are $13 general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For information, call 366-6544.

Concert postponed

The Elliott Galkin Memorial Concert in honor of the late director of the Peabody Institute, originally scheduled Thursday, has been postponed until May 3.

The concert will feature a performance of Verdi's Requiem by the Peabody Hopkins Chorus and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Edward Polochick. Further details will be announced later.

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