Pelham Art Center Announces the Winner of the Biennial 2017 Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting: Sammy Chong: The Twelve

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Pelham Art Center Announces the Winner of the Biennial 2017 Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting: Sammy Chong: The Twelve

April 21, 2017 - 03:18

File and Fill, 36” x 30”, Mix media on printed canvas, 2016.

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Pelham Art Center is thrilled to announce Sammy Chong as the winner of the 2017 Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting. The jury selected Chong from approximately 400 applicants from across the country. As the winner, he will receive a $5,000 cash prize and solo exhibition, Sammy Chong: The Twelve, at Pelham Art Center, May 5 – June 17, 2017, with an opening reception on Friday, May 5 from 6:30-8:00PM.  This biennial juried painting award and exhibition is Pelham Art Center’s only solo exhibition – all others are group shows.

Sammy Chong was one of six finalists in a field of exceptionally strong painters. The finalists were Perry Angelora (Brooklyn, NY), Jenny Dubnau (Queens, NY), Donna Festa (Bangor, ME), Katherine Mann (Washington DC), and Elizabeth Terhune (New York, NY).  Chong resides in Massachusetts. 

Chong’s vibrant mixed media and printed canvas paintings are as poignant as they are proficient. Casting light on the social, economic, political, and cultural identities of immigrants, Chong uses a literal overlay of sacred narratives. His work is multi-dimensional, asking the viewer to question the humble invisibility of jobs conventionally held by immigrants by reimagining them cloaked in the venerable traditions and powerful spiritual icons of their cultures, rendering their identities visible again. The precise and intensely painted archetypal entities steal the viewer’s attention from what initially seems a simple backdrop, yet upon closer examination, materializes a collage of photos reminiscent of a family album. The exhibition features twelve paintings, as the number twelve represents completeness and holds symbolic significance in most of the world’s religions.

About his work, Chong writes:

“My paintings celebrate a cultural diversity that is deeper than societal roles and stereotypes. The heads of my protagonists feature a powerful being that is mightily symbolic within each culture. The gods, spirits, and mythological entities take human form in bodies of these hard workers within American contemporary society.”

Chong received his MFA in Studio Art from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, MA and is currently a professor in the Fine Arts Department at Boston College. He is the ninth winner of the biennial Rutsch Award. He joins the company of previous winners Frank Trankina (2001), Mitchell Marco (2003), Dorothy Robinson (2005), Liang Gao (2007), Tracy Miller (2009), Nina Rizzo (2011), Siobhan McBride (2013), and Lindy Chambers (2015). More information about the artist available at:

In conjunction with Sammy Chong’s solo exhibition in the main gallery space, a collection of Alexander Rutsch’s paintings curated by his wife, artist Kathy Rutsch, will be on view in the front gallery of the Pelham Art Center.  

About the Rutsch Award

Pelham Art Center is proud to sponsor the competition and award to honor the memory and artistic achievement of Alexander Rutsch (1916 – 1997), an artist who actively supported Pelham Art Center for more than 25 years. After his death, friends and supporters of Alexander Rutsch and his family established a generous and significant fund to support a biennial, open, juried competition in painting.

The Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition program continues Rutsch’s belief that art, like a “stone in the water sending ripples throughout the universe,” transcends all of our humanity. His extraordinary work, rich in the celebration of life and our shared human experiences, is included in public and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.