Oxnard Ventura, 2014, Flashe and neon on linen, 112 1/2 x 100 x 4 3/8 inches.
The spiritual in art, 2006, Flashe on linen, 44 x 48 inches
pink sky, 2000, Flashe, starfish, seashells on canvas, 66 x 82 inches.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA—Artists’ Legacy Foundation is pleased to announce that Mary Weatherford, one of the most influential Los Angeles-based painters of her generation, is the recipient of its 2014 Artist Award. Weatherford will be presented with the eighth annual Award at a private reception on November 2, 2014. The Artist Award is an unrestricted gift of $25,000 given to an accomplished painter or sculptor where evidence of the hand is a significant factor in making art. Since its inception in 2007, the Award has been juried by a distinguished list of thinkers and makers.

In the late 1990s, painter Squeak Carnwath and community advocate Gary Knecht envisioned a foundation centered on painters and sculptors encouraging fellow artists; protecting the legacies of deceased “Legacy Artists”; and supporting the visual arts. In 2000, Carnwath, Knecht, and colleague, friend, and groundbreaking sculptor Viola Frey together incorporated Artists’ Legacy Foundation. After Frey’s death in 2004, her bequest made possible the Artist Award program.

Mary Weatherford (b. 1963) is noted for her emotionally charged and atmospheric Flashe on linen works that incorporate neon lighting tubes, letting, as Christopher Knight of The Los Angeles Times remarked, “the draped electrical cords essential to powering their glowing artificial light become an integral part of the composition.” Her transcendental works, painted in deep, rich expanses of color, are encounters of mortality and morality—the “serious stuff”, she has said—and invoke the silken, soft draping strategies of the late innovator Eva Hesse and the glowing, sparse post-minimalism of light sculptor Keith Sonnier.

“Incredible,” said Weatherford, after receiving news of the Artist Award.

“I am very honored and delighted. I’ve known [Legacy Artist] Viola Frey’s art since I was a teenager. Her work taught me that art can be colorful and serious.” Following a highly acclaimed solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles earlier this year, she debuts this month a site-specific work in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. In conjunction with the project, the first major book about her work will be published by the college’s Gould Center for Humanistic Studies. She is also included in the current exhibition Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the upcoming survey The Forever Now at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, which will explore the painted surface as a “platform, map, or metaphoric screen on which genres intermingle, morph, and collide.”

Each year painters and sculptors are anonymously nominated for the Award and candidates are unaware that they are under consideration.

Nominators and jurors are art world peers with a depth of expertise in their fields. The 2014 panel of jurors included: DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs Jennifer Gross; Los Angeles County Museum of Art Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art Franklin Sirmans; and newly named Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Curator of Contemporary Art Jodi Throckmorton.

“Mary Weatherford’s use of neon is a radical move, a formal solution, and follow-through of her hands-on process,” said Gross. “With it she has created an assemblage, a certain kind of light that she could not create in pigment.”

“Whether it’s creating the illusion of a void, or simply mixing color pigment in ways never seen before, Mary Weatherford’s paintings are potent reminders of the wonders to be had in looking at art,” said Sirmans.

“Hallucinogenic,” effused Throckmorton. “The bringing in of electricity is a gesture and strategy, making the use of the hand more apparent in the paintings.”

The Artist Award is designed to encourage professional enrichment, while allowing recipients to spend more creative time in their studios. There are no restrictions on the use of the funds by the recipient.

A complete list of previous recipients of the Artist Award and jurors who selected them may be found at artistslegacyfoundation.org.


Born in Ojai, California, Weatherford lives and works in Los Angeles. She earned her B.A. at Princeton University in 1984 and was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program in 1985. She earned her M.F.A. from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College in 2006. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at LAXART, Los Angeles; Todd Madigan Gallery, California State University, Bakersfield, CA; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; and P.S. 1 Institute of Contemporary Art, New York. Her group exhibitions include Landscape into Abstraction, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Sharing Sunsets, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ; Primarily Paint, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Cadavre Exquis, The Drawing Center, New York; Postcards from Alphaville: Jean Luc Godard in Contemporary Art, 1963 – 1992, P.S. 1 Institute of Contemporary Art, New York; Painting Culture, fiction/nonfiction, New York and Fine Arts Gallery, University of California at Irvine; and Plastic Fantastic Lover (object a), BlumHelman Warehouse, New York.