Fusing Energy for San Diego Visual Arts:
Mentorship, Education, Recognition, Collaboration

The SD ART PRIZE is dedicated to the idea that the visual arts are a necessary and rewarding ingredient of any world-class city and a building block of the lifestyle of its residents. Conceived to promote and encourage dialogue, reflection and social interaction about San Diego’s artistic and cultural life, this annual award honors artistic expression. The SD ART PRIZE, a cash prize with exhibition opportunities, spotlights three established San Diego artists paired with emerging artists each season whose outstanding achievements in the field of Visual Arts merit the recognition. A series of exhibits featuring the recipients will run simultaneously at the L Street Gallery at the Omni Hotel, and on the websites: and, and at California Center for the Arts, Escondido features the recipients.

2006/2007 SD Art Prize Recipients

Ernest Silva with emerging artist May-ling Martinez
Jean Lowe with emerging artist Iana Quesnell
Raul Guerrero with emerging artist Yvonne Venegas

“Ernest Silva is a consummate painter, sculptor and installation artist with an individual vision and distinctive vocabulary. His work is an expression of mankind’s eternal longings and fears, and in his world human beings are restless souls on a lonely journey through a sometimes, dark environment filled with risk and danger,” comments Mary Beebe, director of the Stuart Collection.

Ernest Silva received a BFA from the University of Rhode Island in 1971 and an MFA from Tyler School of Art in 1974. Since 1972, his work has been shown in over 45 one person shows and over 150 group shows. His one person shows have included the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Artists Space, New York; Laguna Museum of Art, California; Art Resources Transfer, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilds, Denmark; and numerous gallery exhibitions in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In 1989, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Painting and in 1995; he was the artist in residence at the National Workshops for Arts and Crafts, Copenhagen, Denmark, known as Gammel Dok. Mr. Silva has been commissioned to construct several public art projects in the San Diego/Tijuana region. His public projects include a permanent installation at the Children's Museum of San Diego, 1995; the Casa de la Cultura, Tijuana, 1994; and the Centro Cultural Tijuana Mr. Ernest Silva has been a Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego since 1979. Silva’s recent paintings and sculptures were shown at the Patricia Correia Gallery in Santa Monica, CA June 24 - July 29,

MAY-LING MARTINEZ emerging artist showing with Ernest Silva
May-ling Martinez was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but has made San Diego her home. She is a recent graduate with a MFA degree in sculpture from San Diego State University in 2005. In 1996 she recieved a bachelor's degree in communications and visual arts from Sacred Heart University, in Puerto Rico. Her work consists of mixed media installations, sculptures and collages that function as triggers to evoke memories."For a while now I have been collecting and working with home related elements and objects. I’ve always found comfort and humor in them and in the general idea of the house. Philosophers, psychoanalysts and poets have perceived the house, or the home, as a magical place full of contradictory wonders that can function as a structure forming device,” said Martinez.

“May Ling’s artwork shows the impact of the cultural aesthetic with which she grew up, as well as the effect of her strong family ties. From her father, an engineer, she inherited an interest in logic and mathematics, which is reflected in her repeated use of numbers, ledger paper and mechanical imagery. After a brief career as a secretary, her mother became a homemaker, and inspired Martinez’s fascination with household objects and the concept of “home” as a symbol for domestic happiness,” says Tina Yapelli, director of SDSU’s University Art Gallery.

California-based artist Jean Lowe earned her MFA at the University of California, San Diego in 1988, the same year she presented her first solo exhibition at the Dietrich Jenny Gallery in Downtown San Diego. Lowe earned her BA at the University of California, Berkeley and was the winner of the first Alberta duPont Bonsal Foundation Art Prize in 2000. For 18 years, Lowe has been inspired and challenged to make work that is visually seductive, viscerally engaging, but also provocative in its critique of how we live in relation to other species and the environment. Lowe enjoys creating artwork that tackles difficult issues such as over-development, exploitation of the environment, sex, power, and the widespread mistreatment of animals. “I'm motivated,” says Lowe, “by a desire to stimulate conversation around issues I think are important, and challenged by the desire to do so in a way that is engaging and playful as opposed to dry and didactic.” Her work ranges from traditional painting and sculpture to her most common medium, enamel-painted papier-mâché. “At L Street Gallery, I'll be exhibiting one brand new large scale landscape and a couple of existing works that will hopefully have a nice conceptual resonance with the work Iana will be showing.”

IANA QUESNELL emerging artist showing with Jean Lowe
Iana Quesnell is from the southern states and is currently in the Masters Program at UCSD. Iana’s current work is about temporary living situations, specificity of place, as well as, navigation through the spaces she occupies and intends to occupy. Whether that be a military tent in Bosnia, her car, a studio on the border in Tijuana, or the Omni Hotel (for a week for this project), each incorporates architectural floor plans and schematic rendering with more experiential and ephemeral details. A viewer is initially pulled in to the work by its beautiful draftsmanship and the surprise of its scale but it’s the conceptual underpinnings that seal the deal. She’s quite literally drafting her life and this odd combination of technical drawing and autobiography yields an unexpected and original narrative. Iana Quesnell engages drawing as a mediating tool between her own body and her immediate surroundings. Often painfully honest these exceptional, large scale drawings take into account her every move with excruciating detail.

Both Lowe (the established artist) and Quesnell (the emerging artist) have a fascination with places that humans occupy. Lowe’s concentration is on an impersonal level as it relates to “plunked down communities” that she feels has no aesthetic appeal while Quesnell’s interest is on a deeply personal level as she shares specific relationships with the places she inhabits. The visual contrast is strikingly different, Lowe uses a more traditional painterly style while Quesnell’s works as a draftsman with graphite on paper.

Raul Guerrero graduated from the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles in 1970, BFA. He held his first one person exhibition at the Cirrus Gallery in 1974, which was followed by numerous solo and joint exhibitions in such diverse cities as San Francisco, Santa Fe, New York, Madrid and Tokyo to name a few. Significant among these were a retrospective survey of his artwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in 1998. In 2006 he kicked off a series of exhibits beginning in April with a show at the Billy Shire Fine Arts Gallery in Culver City: Problemas y Secretos Maravillosos de Las Indies/ Problems and Marvelous Secrets of the Indies, which ran from April 15 - May 20, 2006. Guerrero is currently part of the Strange New World: Art and Design from Tijuana, which is running concurrently at both MCASD Downtown and MCASD La Jolla. His work will be featured at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, as part of the exhibition: Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge running from July 22 - October 22, which includes works of some of the country’s best Chicano and Chicana artists. Works by Guerrero are also currently being featured in Ravenna Italy at the Galleria Ninapi.

Raul has been a Lecturer for the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego for the last nine years where he teaches oil painting and drawing.

YVONNE VENEGAS emerging artist showing with Raul Guerrero
Yvonne Venegas grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, studied in San Diego, Ca. and Mexico City before spending a year at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. In New York she assisted photographers as Dana Lixenberg, Juergen Teller and Bruce Weber. Her work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, SPIN, Details and also in Zoom and Luna Cornea, from Mexico among others. She has exhibited her work in Tijuana, Mexico City, New York, California, Madrid, Valencia and Quebec, and is currently exhibiting with the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2002 she won 1st prize in the Mexico City Photo Biennial. She is currently studying Visual Arts / Media focus at University of California San Diego.

During the course of the season, Art Notes by visual art professional were written about all of the artists and these are available. For more information and high resolution images by the artists contact:
Patricia Frischer 760.943.0148
Ann Berchtold 858.792.3031 or

The SD ART PRIZE is produced by The Art Girls: Joan Seifried, Ann Berchtold and Patricia Frischer

Related Links:

Professor Ernest Silva

Lecturer Raul Guerrero

Lecturer and MFA Alumna Jean Lowe

MFA Candidate Yvonne Venegas

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