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Hugo Crosthwaite Awarded First-Prize In Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition

Hugo Crosthwaite, "A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez," 2018, stop-motion drawing animation. Courtesy of Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Hugo Crosthwaite was selected from amongst 46 finalists and over 2,600 entries, including seven artists that were shortlisted for prizes. As the first-prize winner, Crosthwaite receives a cash award of $25,000 and a commission to create a portrait of a notable living person for the museum’s permanent collection. Finalists in this year’s competition, the fifth triennial exhibition in this series, came from 14 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The winners were announced at a press preview at the National Portrait Gallery on October 25th.

Crosthwaite’s winning entry, a stop-motion drawing animation titled “A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez will be presented in “The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today,” a major exhibition premiering at the National Portrait Gallery on October 26, 2019 through August 30, 2020.

“A Portrait of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez” (2018) is part of a new series of videos by Crosthwaite that illustrates the collective memories and oral stories from the Tijuana-San Diego, U.S./Mexico border. This three-minute video depicts the immigrant experience of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez as personally told to the artist. It describes her trials and tribulations as she dreams of crossing into the United States to take part in an “American Dream” and lives through an intense ordeal that ends with her deportation to Tijuana — yet, she continues to dream of returning to the United States.

“We are defined by the stories that we tell ourselves,” says Crosthwaite, “either real or imagined, to deal with difficult situations in our lives. The story of Berenice, as I interviewed her, had elements of exaggeration, perhaps even fantasy, but it also speaks to universal truths about the disenfranchisement and vulnerability of immigrants and the violence that is prevalent against women in the U.S./Mexico border.  Rather than playing the role of journalist where I recount a factual event, I have left the video open to interpretation just as Berenice left me with her vague and unsettling story.”

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles has represented Hugo Crosthwaite for nearly a decade and has presented four solo exhibitions by the artist, including “Tijuanerias” (2012), “Studies for Carpas” (2013), “Tijuana Radiant Shine” and “Shattered Mural” (2015), and, opening on November 9, 2019, “TIJUAS! Death March, Tijuana Bibles, and Other Legends”. (The word Tijuas is colloquial slang for Tijuana, similar to Chi-town or ATL.) The exhibit will feature four animated videos and hand-drawn artist’s books from the “Tijuana Bibles” series (2017-2019), as well as an extraordinary 25-foot drawing-mural titled “Death March”. This will be the first time that this work is presented since it was created in 2011 and exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center. The gallery has also presented his work at international art fairs.

Hugo Crosthwaite was born 1971 in Tijuana, Mexico and graduated from San Diego State University in 1997 with a BA in Applied Arts.  Crosthwaite lives and works in San Diego, CA and Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Latin America, including “In Memoriam: Los Angeles” (a Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition), Museum of Social Justice, Los Angeles; “Impermanencia/Impermanence,” Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca, Peru; XI FEMSA Monterrey Biennial, Monterrey, MX; Museo de San Ildefonso, Mexico City; California-Pacific Triennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; “Behold, America!”, San Diego Museum of Art; “Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection,” Chicago Cultural Center; “Brutal Beauty: Drawings by Hugo Crosthwaite,” San Diego Museum of Art; “TRANSactions: Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art,” Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; “El Grito/The Cry for Freedom,” University of Arkansas, Little Rock, AK; and “Strange New World: Art & Design from Tijuana,” Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA; among others.

Crosthwaite’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; San Diego Museum of Art, CA; National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; University of Arkansas Art Gallery, Little Rock, AK; Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT), MX; and numerous private collections around the world.

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