The power of Miami's art scene is pretty undeniable these days — and Farley Aguilar is at the top of the list. This week, the Orlando Museum of Art announced the winner of its Florida Prize in Contemporary Art, and Aguilar was the big winner.
The self-taught painter was one of ten Florida-based artists selected to compete for this year's honor, which runs for three months annually at the Orlando Museum of Art (through September 6). As the winner, he took home $20,000.
Aguilar's name isn't new in the winner's list. He received an honorable mention in the New Times Mastermind awards in 2013 and a spot on the 2010 100 Creatives list. Last year art critic Carlos Suarez de Jesus called him "Miami's new international art star."
Aguilar's work has been described as haunting; his rich, surreal paintings frequently feature images of crowds that echo a feeling of unease. He exhibits at Miami's Spinello Projects, and recently hosted a sold-out show in Basel, Switzerland. He's even earned a mention from the New York Times.
The jurors who selected Aguilar for the Florida Prize included Juan Roselione-Valadez, director of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami; Ginger Gregg Duggan, independent curator and partner of CuratorSquared, Orlando; and Ben Thompson, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville.
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The other artists considered include: Cesar Cornejo of Tampa; Michael Covello of Tampa; Rob Duarte of Tallahassee; Jennifer Kaczmarek of Pensacola; Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz of Orlando; and Antonia Wright, Bhakti Baxter, Alex Trimino, and Nicolas Lobo, all of Miami.
As far as words of advice for artists who'd like to be considered for next year: "Often what distinguishes exceptional artists in any discipline is that they know what they want to express, and everything in their work supports that vision," says the Orlando Museum's curator Hansen Mulford.
Clearly Aguilar fits the bill.