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2010 Marfield Prize

2010 Winner

R. Tripp Evans, Grant Wood: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf).


The Arts Club of Washington has named R. Tripp Evans the recipient of the fifth annual National Award for Arts Writing for his biography Grant Wood: A Life. (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010).

The $10,000 award, the Marfield Prize, is unique in the world of publishing, and is one of the country’s largest literary prizes given to a single author.

Mr. Evans, a professor of art history at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, was honored on Thursday, May 12 at a dinner at the Arts Club, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

“The Marfield Prize recognizes authors of outstanding nonfiction books about the arts written for a broad audience,” says June Hajar, the Arts Club’s president. “It spotlights works that bring the arts to life in prose that is vivid, accessible, and exciting. Mr. Evans’s fresh look at the life one of America’s iconic painters does just that, beautifully capturing the story of his art and of the man behind the works.”

Grant Wood: A Life examines the ways in which collective national identity emerges from the unstable ground of myth.  In this case, that of a presumably all-American, homespun artist whose life and art, most famously American Gothic, have become stubborn icons for traditional small-town American values.  Evans explores the contradiction between Wood’s folksy public image as “America’s Painter” and the realities of his European training, sophisticated use of art-historical sources, complex family relationships and his closeted homosexuality.

On Wednesday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m., Evans spoke about Wood and his book in a free public program at the club. He will also conducted a special workshop for students at Washington’s Duke Ellington School for the Arts.

The 2010 award judges are poet E. Ethelbert Miller, novelist Katherine Neville and Michael Martone, professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alabama. Previous years’ judges have included novelists Joyce Carol Oates, Jamaica Kincaid, Richard Ford and Reynolds Price, and poets Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky.

Grant Wood: A Life was selected from among four finalist titles that also included Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang (W. W. Norton & Company); Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot GRRRL Revolution by Sara Marcus (Harper Perennial); and The Advance Man by Jamie MacVicar (Bear Manor Media). They were narrowed from a field of more than 70 books submitted by publishers by a panel of Arts Club members from a variety of arts disciplines, as well as other first-stage readers.

2010 Finalists

Yunte Huang, Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by (W. W. Norton & Company)

Sara Marcus Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot GRRRL Revolution (Harper Perennial)

Jamie MacVicar, The Advance Man (Bear Manor Media)


2010  Judges

Michael Martone, professor of English and director, Creative Writing Program, University of Alabama

E. Ethelbert Miller, poet

Katherine Neville, novelist


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