The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program awards rent-free non-living studio space to 17 visual artists for year-long residencies. Its mission is to provide working studio space and community for artists. Artists are selected annually based on merit from a competitive pool of applicants by a professional jury comprised of artists and members of the SWSP Artists Advisory Committee.
The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program is the new face of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program, developed for artists, by artists in 1991. In 2014 the program was renamed the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program to honor the legacy of Marie Walsh Sharpe and reflect the new sponsorship and commitment of the Walentas Family Foundation.
The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation was established in 1984 by Marie Walsh Sharpe, dedicating her estate to her long-held dream of providing assistance to gifted visual artists. After her death in 1985, Foundation Director Joyce Robinson sought counsel from Chuck Close on how to assist individual artists. Believing that artists would best know the needs of the visual arts community, Close organized a gathering of fellow artists, facilitated by Irving Sandler, at Philip Pearlstein’s loft in Soho to brainstorm how to support artists living in New York City.
From this meeting the Foundation’s Artist Advisory Committee was formed. Notes from the meeting, released as the publication Roundtable Discussion on the Needs of Visual Artists, lead to the founding of The Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program in 1991, a juried merit-based award offering free studio space for one year. The Space Program was originally housed at 433 Greenwich Street in TriBeCa and moved to 20 Jay Street in DUMBO in 2008. In the early years the Foundation also supported summer seminars and workshops for gifted high school students and an artists hotline, which is now run by New York Foundation for the Arts as NYFA Source. In 2014 the Walentas Family Foundation took over sponsorship of the Space Program and renamed it the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program.
The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program continues to honor The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation’s original vision for an artist-run program. The Artists Advisory Committee consists of founding members Chuck Close, Philip Pearlstein, Irving Sandler, Cynthia Carlson, Janet Fish, Harriet Shorr, and Robert Storr, as well as new members Phong Bui, Matthew Deleget, Tara Donovan, Mark Greenwold, Deborah Kass, Beverly McIver, and Joel Shapiro.