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Inspired by trends in figurative painting — a resurgence in portraiture due in part to the popularity of artists Gerhard Richter, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and even Damien Hirst, who has washed his hands of formaldehyde to take on photorealism — the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced the premiere of a portraiture competition, the Outwin Boochever Competition 2006. The contest commences with a national call for paintings and sculptures taking place June 1 through Sept. 6. Images will be accepted and initially judged online at the gallery’s Web site by jurors Sidney Goodman (artist), Thelma Golden (The Studio Museum in Harlem), Trevor Fairbrother (independent scholar and curator) and Katy Siegel (art critic and scholar). The grand prize is $25,000, including a commission to render a portrait of “a remarkable living American.” Cash prizes will be awarded to all finalists, whose works will also be shown in the exhibition that reopens the gallery in July 2006. Entries will be showcased online and considered for “Portrait of an Artist,” works randomly selected to be featured on their Web site. For the rest of you who are working in photography, film, video, electronic and digital media, and the like — gallery reps promise to open up the contest in years to come.

Check out a new Detroit blog on the visual arts,, written and edited by local CCS graduate Ann Gordon, 23, a painter represented by Birmingham’s District Arts Gallery. Inspired by Caryn Coleman’s Los Angeles-based arts blog,, Gordon’s site features information on local art and events, as well as rants that take on art-related issues in general. She does a good job of covering the local scene, but her blog is also unique because she has a multi-platform perspective — as an artist, a critic and a gallery director.

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