Rockefeller Brothers Fund Names Inaugural Recipient of New Pocantico Prize for Visual Artists

Today, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) announced the creation of the Pocantico Prize for Visual Artists, which will pair a $25,000 cash prize with a two-month artist residency at the new David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center (DR Center) at Pocantico.

In its inaugural year, the prize will be awarded to Athena LaTocha. LaTocha, a Peekskill, NY-based artist whose massive mixed-media works on paper explore the relationship between human-made and natural worlds, will begin her two-month residency at the DR Center when it opens in Fall 2022.

In alternating years, the Prize will be awarded to a visual artist working in the Hudson Valley and one chosen from a national pool. Pocantico Prize awardees are nominated by select arts organizations (including El Museo del Barrio, MoMA PS1, Studio Museum of Harlem, Wave Hill, the Katonah Museum, and Arts Westchester) and leaders in the field, with winners chosen by a jury of RBF staff and outside experts. Nominators will seek out artists who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color; disabled; women or gender non-binary; or other groups that have been denied opportunities or recognition and who demonstrate a trajectory of artistic excellence and show promise for further growth and societal impact.

“Art helps shape how we see and understand the world, and the artists who create it are indispensable in this moment of democratic erosion, racial and gender injustice, and accelerating climate change,” said Ben Rodriguez Cubeñas, director of the Culpeper Arts and Culture program at the RBF. “The creative process is real work—it requires time and resources. We hope the Pocantico Prize will help fill the gap for individual artists whose perspective and ideas may help us grapple with these challenging times.”

The Pocantico Prize is funded by the RBF Culpeper Arts and Culture program, which supports the creative process through grants to arts organizations in the Fund’s home city of New York. Since 2012, the program has funded performing arts residencies for grantees at The Pocantico Center. The new artists’ studio in the DR Center at Pocantico will expand the residency program to directly support visual artists for the first time.

The DR Center will also provide increasing opportunities for engagement with neighbors in the Hudson Valley. In addition to the new prize for individual artists, the RBF will for the first time offer an annual grant to a local community-based arts group working with underserved communities. The grant also allows the selected organization to use the 900-square-foot DR Center studio as a satellite location to conduct programs, workshops, exhibitions, performances, and other artistic initiatives for up to six months. The inaugural recipient is Arts10566, which provides free arts programs for the diverse youth populations of Peekskill and surrounding towns.

“The Hudson Valley is home to a rich cultural landscape,” said Elly Weisenberg Kelly, manager of public programs and residencies at The Pocantico Center. “The community arts residency will allow us to deepen partnerships with local arts organizations and place them in dialogue with both artistic perspectives from across the country and new and diverse audiences in our neighborhoods.”