If you're a young or young-ish Canadian visual artist with a thoroughly contemporary practice, no prize is more important and prestigious than the Sobey Art Award. It's been that way virtually from the award's inception in 2002, initially as a biennial offering. Not only is the money big – the winner gets $50,000 – the career heft is profound, as previous laureates such as Duane Linklater, Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook and David Altmejd can attest.
This year the total cash value of the award is even higher – $100,000, with the winner again slated to receive $50,000 while each runner-up (there are four) will earn $10,000 instead of the $5,000 of previous awards. The remaining long-listed artists will each receive $500. Established by Donald Sobey, former chair of the National Gallery of Canada, the award, given annually since 2006, is disbursed to an artist 40 and under who's had a public or commercial gallery exhibition within 18 months of being nominated.
The long list for the 2014 prize has just been published. As ever, a jury of five has chosen 25 candidates, split into groups of five based on geographic region. A short list of five will be culled in early June, the winner named in mid-November. Works by the short-listed artists will be exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, starting Nov. 1.
Several of the nominees on the 2014 long list have been up for Sobey consideration before, most notably Saskatoon-born, Sackville, N.B.-based Graeme Patterson, 34, short-listed in 2009 and long-listed in 2010 and 2012. Organized by region, here are the artists on this year's long list: