On the Bright Side: Artists honored with grants

October 1, 2012

An artist and a poet with ties to Delaware County will receive funding from a state arts foundation to allow them to focus on their work.

The New York Foundation for the Arts awarded 134 artists across the state $7,000 apiece that they may apply to everything from materials to rent. Among them are Ken Buhler and Anna Moschovakis, who have homes in Delaware County.

Buhler won his fellowship grant with drawings from his series, "Notes From the Edge of the World." Moschovakis won hers through her poetry.

Buhler, a professor at Bard College, keeps a home in Masonville, where he has spent summers since 1988.

"I really feel like it's some of the best work I've done in a long time," Buhler, 53, said of the abstract-style drawings he entered for the award.

A recent survey indicated that nearly half of all artists living in New York make less than $25,000 a year, according to a media release from the foundation.

Buhler said there are few artists who can make a living solely through selling their artwork.

The fellowship grants are a great boost, he said, allowing them to afford materials and take time off from their other employment to focus on artwork.

The foundation awards grants for categories such as drawing, painting, poetry, nonfiction literature, film and crafts.

"It's also a really fair grant," Buhler said.

The applicants are peer-judged, and the judges do not know who the artists are, having only the artwork itself to rate, Buhler said.

"It's very satisfying to get one," Buhler said.

The grant includes a component of public service, which requires the award winner to perform free lectures or other community functions.

Buhler's award-winning drawings are in black and white, unlike much of his previous work, which is often colorful. The drawings are produced using rubber stamps and ink, as well as graphite and pencil.

Buhler said he was inspired to do the series after a trip to the northwest coast of Ireland in 2007, where he encountered an isolated landscape that suddenly meets the sea. Ireland is also a place where the landscapes show evidence of humanity dating back to the early Christian era and even Neolithic times.

"It is just super evident, and you realize you are just a blip on the screen of history," Buhler said. "You sense a great deal of history in the landscape that you don't in America."

But Buhler said he has also found the Masonville area inspiring in its own right.

"I love this area. I do feel like it inspires a lot of work for me," he said.

Moschovakis had two listed phone numbers, one in South Kortright and one in Brooklyn, but she could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The New York Foundation of the Arts was founded in 1971 and provides more than $1 million in grants to individuals and organizations each year.

Buhler will show his work from the series publicly for the first time in October at the Lesley Heller Gallery in New York City.