The Alden Mason Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Alden Mason Grand Prize Award and two Special Recognition Awards recognizing Washington state artists in the discipline of painting. The Grand Prize Award grants $12,000 to an outstanding painter, and two additional painters of merit receive Special Recognition Awards of $1,000 each.

The Selection Panel included esteemed curators José Carlos Diaz and Shamim M. Momin; and painter Anthony White. After careful deliberation the panelists selected the following artists for awards:

Grand Prize Award: Ko Kirk Yamahira, Seattle, WA
Special Recognition Award: JoEllen Wang, Seattle, WA
Special Recognition Award: Juventino Aranda, Walla Walla, WA

The Alden Mason Foundation Award Selection Panel thoroughly evaluated 242 eligible applications, assessing each artist’s ability to meet or exceed the Selection Criteria based solely on their submitted work samples and statements. The blind review process, which excluded the artists’ names and resumes, ensured an unbiased focus on artistic merit.


Ko Kirk Yamahira, Untitled, acrylic, graphite, partially unwoven canvas, wood, 65 x 71 inches.

I consider that the subjectivity is formed through the repetitive process of deconstructing the existing objects, and ruminating on such process. There is no specific aim to find a meaning, neither in the creative act itself, nor through the creative process. The totality of the meaning can be found in the continuation of the process. Therefore the reason for the creative act would be found in different inquiry.

The obsession of pursuit of the meaning is unlocked by the pure enjoyment of creative act. The obsession in turn would release the meaning of the search by forgetting the initial inquiry. There are innumerable ways to enact the process, however there is one answer to the result of the process. Within the answer contains two opposing perspectives that has no hierarchy. The point of view, both subjective and objective, as well as the scale of the perception would affect the location of the answer. I sense the distance to the answer gets ever more shorter as I repeat the inquiry.

The answer certainly exists in the past and it could simply be overlooked. The past always has the potential for the new discoveries for me. Since the inquiry originates within my mind, thus the approach to look and find the answer can change completely. It shifts while depending of my state of mind. So it is both firm, as well as transient. Creation of the artworks comes after my deconstructive process on already existing canvas, separating vertical and horizontal threads. The totality of the meaning can be found in the continuation of the process. Therefore the reason for the creative act would be found in different inquiry. - Ko Kirk Yamahira 


JoEllen Wang, Tarp No. 19 (11/24/21) 1st Ave S & S Hudson St, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches. 

I’ve always been interested in shelter – designing my own space, seeing how other people live, and learning about the homes of animals different from myself. I’m especially interested in nomadic shelters, and in rethinking the merits of what is permanent vs temporary. I don’t assume the sedentary conditions of society are good just because we’re used to them, especially when examined from an ecological perspective. My vision is a culture with expansive views of what shelter can be. I wish we could better accommodate people’s innate desire to create spaces that feel like their own.

This series of paintings depicts the disposable plastic tarps used to cover RVs parked in the margins of neighborhoods throughout Seattle. I intend these paintings to point to absent subjects – vehicles and people – in a way that bears witness to the resilience of the unhoused living in our community, while also underscoring the systemic failure that makes tarps ubiquitous.

Plastic tarps are integral but detrimental to every human sheltering endeavor. Their primary value is in their disposability; we use them for temporary construction controls, temporary disaster relief, and anything needing temporary cover. The irony is that they are made of durable, long-lasting polymers that will probably outlast human civilization. And our belief that tarps are clean, convenient, and safe is belied by their refusal to end up in landfills, rather, they shed uncontainable bits and pieces of themselves in alarming amounts along the way.

I think there’s no going back to a world without plastic, and we’ll never adequately house everyone. But I do want to learn something by getting closer to both the material and the people we shun. I’m working towards being neither dystopian nor nostalgic and thinking about what is possible here and now. - JoEllen Wang on her Tarps series


Juventino Aranda, Got a Beach House I Could Sell You in Idaho, acrylic, oil stick and resin on Pendleton wool, 60 x 45 inches. 

I am Mexican and second generation “American”. My work demarcates the intersection of my Mexican and American identities. I am not Hispanic, Latino, and definitely not Spanish —even though I live everyday with the consequences of their conquest. My art struggles with feeling foreign in my native land. Not unlike my personal experiences of never fully ascribing to one cultural category, my artwork also blends and manipulates the categories of painting and sculpture, craft and high art, manufacturing and handmade work to develop a new visual lexicon that reflects the contemporary conditions of my experiences. My processes and material choices are embedded in the experiences of marginalized communities.

By using textiles as the canvas and embroidery as the paint, I am mirroring my attempt to uncover and celebrate those cultures and communities who are the foundation of a society but are often covered up or whitewashed by mainstream narratives. My wall-works are simultaneously paintings and sculptures. They include and combine paint, urethane resin, oil sticks, bronze, mirror, birch panel and corrugated cardboard. This media mixing is both high and low, native and foreign, other and accepted. - Juventino Aranda



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