Hermine Ford and Donald Lewallen Receive 2023 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Awards

Hermine Ford and Donald Lewallen Receive 2023 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Awards
Image: (L) Hermine Ford, "Untitled," 2023 and (R) Don Lewallen, "Memories Clashing," 2021.

$12,000 unrestricted cash award recognizes mature visual artists with a long history of creative practice.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) has announced artists Hermine Ford and Donald Lewallen as the 2023 recipients of its Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award. The $12,000 award recognizes artistic excellence and provides resources to mature visual artists with a long history of creative practice. 

With the support of an anonymous donor, NYFA created this annual unrestricted cash award in 2015 to enable the recipients to pursue deeper investigations or new explorations that can inform or enrich their work. It was developed in memory of the artist Murray Reich, a New York-based painter who also had a highly-regarded career as a professor of art at Bard College. This year’s recipients were selected by Amy Hausmann, curator and director of the Olana State Historic Site, New York; Sanford Wurmfeld, artist, emeritus chairman of the Department of Art at Hunter College; and John Yau, American poet and art critic.

“One of the greatest things about artists like Hermine Ford and Donald Lewallen is that their work is never done, they are always learning and growing,” said Michael Royce, CEO of NYFA. “We’re thrilled to recognize Hermine and Donald with 2023 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Awards, and are grateful to our anonymous donor for encouraging their continued career evolution,” he added.

New York, NY, and Nova Scotia, Canada-based painter Hermine Ford reimagines the past through elements of architecture, earth, and physical memory, enhancing our contemporary experience in her meticulously composed painted shaped panels. Ford, who is in her 80s, has developed a distinct style honing her aesthetic since the early 1970s, exhibiting work at Furnace-Art on Paper, Falls Village, CT (2022); The New York Studio School, New York, NY (2019); 57W57Arts, New York, NY (2018); and Outlet Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY (2018); among others. 

Group exhibitions have included Mosaics at James Barron Art, Kent, CT (2023); American Painting: The Eighties Revisited, Cincinnati Museum of Art, OH (2021); Red Telephone, Fierman, New York, NY (2019); and 1970s: 9 Women and Abstraction, Zürcher Gallery, New York, NY (2016). Her work is included in the public collections of institutions including Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Hood Museum at Dartmouth, Hanover, CT; Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Ford studied at Antioch College and Yale School of Art. She was an instructor or visiting artist at the following: Parsons School of Design (1977-83); Maryland Institute College of Art (1981); Rhode Island School of Design (1983); School of Art Institute of Chicago (1984); New York Studio School (1992); and American Academy in Rome (2002); to name a few. Commissions include Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD (2011). In 2018, she became an elected member of the National Academy of Design. 

On being recognized with a Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award, Ford said: “I am very honored to receive this acknowledgement from NYFA. It is very useful to me as I continue to make my work.”

At age 87, New York, NY-based abstract artist Don Lewallen works in his studio nearly every day. Lewallen’s current body of work has roots in the 1980s, when he assiduously began drawing rocks of all kinds. Lewallen finds inspiration in rocks and fascinating shapes everywhere, gathering images from many subjects and sources including newspapers, art, nature, science, and math. He then creates drawings that transform myriad shapes into an artistic world of his own making. 

Lewallen studied at UCLA under Sam Amato and Adolf Gottlieb, later helping to establish an art department at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Lewallen was hired at UCSD as an assistant professor, his first full-time teaching assignment. He moved to New York City in the 1970s and received a National Endowment Visual Artist Fellowship for the year 1989-90. 

His work has been exhibited in solo shows at Ciccio, Brooklyn, NY; Delaware Arts Center Gallery, Narrowsburg, NY; The Painting Center, New York, NY; and the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Gallery, Parsons School of Design; among others. He has participated in group shows at institutions including Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Indianapolis Museum of Art; and Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, NY.

Said Lewallen upon receiving the Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award: “I am thrilled to be the recipient of the Distinguished Artist Award named for my late dear friend Murray Reich, and so grateful to those who valued my work enough to choose me. Not only does this award give me encouragement and support to continue working, but the recognition by my peers validates my decision to continue in the direction I have taken.”

Born and raised in Coney Island and the south Bronx, Murray Reich (1932-2012) attended City College and received his M.F.A. degree in Painting from Boston University. Following his first solo show in New York at Max Hutchinson Gallery, Reich was awarded a Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship. Reich received other fellowships, including one from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work was exhibited in two Whitney Annuals and at the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as in solo shows and group exhibitions. 

Reich was Professor Emeritus of Painting at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where he taught for 25 years. He served on the faculty of the Graduate Program in Art at Hunter College, also in New York. He was the inaugural director of Tanglewood’s Summer Program in Art in Massachusetts, and also taught at Boston University. He lived and worked in New York City, Provincetown, and Mount Tremper in upstate New York.

Find out about additional awards and grants here. Sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter to receive announcements about future NYFA events and programs.

Amy Aronoff
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