A mix of familiar and new names makes up the five finalists for the 2014 Sobey Art Award, announced Wednesday in Halifax by the Sobey Art Foundation and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The prize, which provides the winner with both $50,000 and a significant career boost, is awarded annually to a Canadian contemporary artist age 40 or under who’s had his or her work exhibited in a public or commercial gallery prior to being named to the 25-name long list announced each April.
Also new is the Winnipeg-based painting duo Michael Dumontier, 40, and Neil Farber, 39, both founding members of that city’s influential, now-defunct Royal Art Lodge.
The Sobey, a juried prize, was created in 2001 as “an impetus, a spark to create more attention [for professional artists] outside the established art world.” The first award, given in 2002, went to West Coast First Nations artist Brian Jungen. Originally conceived as a biennial honour, the Sobey became an annual event in 2006. Of the 10 prizes awarded to date, only two, in 2006 and 2012, have gone to women (Nunavut’s Annie Pootoogook and Quebec’s Raphaëlle de Groot).
This year’s purse is the richest ever: Besides the $50,000 to the first-place finisher, the four other finalists are each to receive $10,000; the remaining long-listed artists earn $500 each. Works by the five finalists will be exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, beginning Nov. 1. The WAG is also the site for the award ceremony, scheduled for Nov. 19.