The Paul and Norma Tikkanen Painting Prize

The Paul and Norma Tikkanen Painting Prize

Paul Tikkanen was a contemporary abstract painter, sculptor, and photographer born in Ashtabula in 1926. He was a graduate of Ashtabula Harbor High School and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Tikkanen was a 1957 winner of the Cleveland Art Museum’s May Show for his painting “Chipped Crystal.” He married his wife Norma Stenberg Tikkanen in 1958; Norma was born in Saybrook, Ohio. Paul and Norma traveled extensively during their life together, visiting Mexico, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Paul studied, created, and showed art around the world, and worked in the United States as a draftsman, carpenter, boiler operator, sign painter, commercial artist, and portrait painter. He and Norma renovated the Old Ninevah School in Geneva, Ohio into an art studio, and he later established a studio on Lake Road. Paul was devoted to Norma, and was her primary caregiver at the end of her life.

Paul Tikkanen hoped to see visual arts flourish in our area, and wanted to encourage and promote both established and rising fine arts painters in Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania. To help realize that goal, he left an endowment to the Ashtabula Arts Center Foundation to establish a painting competition. This competition, the Paul and Norma Tikkanen Painting Prize, is held annually every October. Prizes will be given in two categories, abstract and realistic, awarding first place winners $12,000 and second place winners $5000. Potential Honorable Mention prizes of $1000 may also be awarded at the discretion of the jurors. Acceptable media for entries include gouache, fresco, encaustic, ink (sumi-e), oil, acrylic, watercolor, alcohol inks, tempora, and mixed media painting.


Kerry McLaney is an artist and curator based in Miami, FL. She attended Savannah College of Art & Design, and co-founded a non-profit art organization as Creative Director. They launched four independent Satellite Art Fairs during Miami Art Week, partnered with SCOPE Art Fair and opened a popup gallery in Wynwood. McLaney has worked closely with over 500 artists and received thousands of submissions, from paintings to new art media. She’s currently developing an app to help artists manage their careers and monetize their work.

Cynthia Stucki has been the curatorial assistant for contemporary art and photography at Carnegie Museum of Art since 2022. She has organized and contributed to exhibitions in South Florida, Switzerland, Germany, and Pittsburgh, including “The Milton and Sheila Fine Collection” at Carnegie Museum of Art, “(Re)inventing Grassi 2023: re-thinking, de-constructing, re-imagining” at GRASSI Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig from 2021–2022, and the 2018 triennial exhibition “sXe: Southeastern Contemporary Art” at the University Galleries, FAU. In 2022, Stucki founded the Kunstlokal Festival, which is an ongoing project that invites artists to create work in conversation with the collections of local history and community museums in Switzerland. Stucki received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Arts in Curatorial Studies from the Zurich University of the Arts.

Bhakti Baxter (born 1979, Miami, FL) is an artist who lives and works in Topanga, CA. His work spans media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, functional objects, as well as organizing collaborative exhibitions and arts education. Ideas range from focusing on patterns found throughout systems in nature on all scales, geometry as an illuminative language of knowing, and spirituality complimented through scientific means. Baxter understands that art can be a process that helps unravel universal mysteries while leaving room for new questions and wonder.

2023 winners

First Place Realism: Amy Casey, “Everything is Fine!”
First Place Abstract: Jennifer Omaitz, “Where Love Lives”
Second Place Realism: Charles Deihl. “The Village”
Second Place Abstract: Elizabeth Emery, “day across time”
Honorable Mentions:
Elisa Albrecht, “Landscape 22”
Timothy Callaghan, “Glare on 90”
Rachel Burke, “No Answer”
Kelly Pontoni, “Not Always Good Times”
Melissa Bloom, “The Handstand”
Theadis Reagins, “Broadcasting Revelations”

Amy Casey, “Everything Is Fine!”

Jennifer Omaitz, “Where Love Lives”

Charles Deihl, “The Village”

Elizabeth Emery, “day across time”

2022 winners

First Place Realism: Ewuresi Archer, “MADAM”
First Place Abstract: Susan Squires, “reflection”
Second Place Realism: Elisa Albrecht, “Spark”
Second Place Abstract: Phillip Buntin, “Narrow Bands Divide Us, Fall Away”
Honorable Mentions:
Judy Takacs, “Trust Women”
David A. Leas, “Untitled”
Alison Stinely, “Conglomerate V”
Leigh Brooklyn, “We Have Come to Save You”
Rebecca Kaler, “The Lake Series #2”
Mathew Kolodziej, “Vessel”

Alpesh Kanitilal Patel
Alpesh Kantilal Patel is associate professor of art history at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University, and the 2023 Curator at Large at UrbanGlass, Brooklyn, where he is organizing a series of exhibitions under the theme “Forever Becoming: Decolonization, Materiality, and Trans Subjectivity.”
His art historical scholarship, curating, and criticism reflect his queer, anti-racist, and transnational approach to contemporary art. The author of Productive failure: writing queer transnational South Asian art histories (2017) and co- editor of Storytellers of Art Histories (2022), he has contributed essays to many catalogs and published numerous book chapters and journal articles. As an art critic, he writes frequently for Artforum and other art presses. Grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Arts Council England, NEH, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and New York University have supported his research. He is working on his next monograph, Multiple and One: Global Queer Art Histories.

Donna Torres
Donna Torres received undergraduate and graduate degrees in painting and drawing from the University of New Mexico and Florida International University. Donna is a Miami, Florida based artist and illustrator and currently works as adjunct professor of painting at FIU. Donna’s drawings, paintings and multimedia projects reflect her interest in the natural world. Her artworks have been exhibited widely in the US and abroad. She is currently working on her next solo exhibition of paintings and drawings. The Radiance of Proximity will open in March 2024 at Miami International Airport. Her solo exhibition Caminos y Enlaces (Pathways and Connections) opened in December 2022 and runs through February 2023 at the Sala Gasco Arte Contemporáneo in Santiago, Chile. The show includes paintings in oil and watercolor, drawings, and textile installation.

Franklin Einspruch
While maintaining a studio practice as an artist in New Hampshire, Franklin Einspruch is also active in art criticism, comics, and alternative publishing. His art has appeared in 19 solo exhibitions and 42 group exhibitions. He has been a resident artist at programs in Italy, Greece, Taiwan, and around the United States, and was the Fulbright-Q21/MuseumsQuartier Wien Artist-In-Residence for 2019.
Einspruch has authored 241 essays and art reviews for many publications, including The New Criterion and Art in America. He has been blogging about art since 2003 at and Dissident Muse Journal. Einspruch has been involved with comics poetry since the form emerged in the mid 2000s, starting with a webcomic, The Moon Fell On Me, and expanding to many other projects and publications.

Jose Carlos Diaz
José Carlos Diaz is the Chief Curator at The Andy Warhol Museum. He has curated Farhad Moshiri: Go West; Fantasy America; Becoming Andy Warhol; and Andy Warhol: Revelation currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum. In April 2022 he will open Paola Pivi: I Want It All. Diaz serves on the Board of Trustees for the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and was a 2018 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL). He received a MA in Cultural History from the University of Liverpool and a BA in Art History from San Francisco State University.

Naomi Fisher
Born and raised in Miami, where a wild and untamed tropical environment serves as the backdrop to the population’s tendency toward artifice and materialistic excess. Fisher frequently explores this culture clash in her work through the lens of feminist theory and straggles derived from surrealist art. Within her work, the science and politics of climate change and how we navigate the natural world is informed by a childhood going on plant collecting expeditions around the world with her botanist father.
Over the past 20 years, her work has spanned painting, drawing, performance, photography, video, and site-specific installation, often in collaboration with dancers. Recently she has started accepting commissions for permanent large-scale public art projects, the first of which is a frieze that is a permanent part of the architecture of the Rose McQuillan Art Center at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Since 2004, Fisher has directed the W.A.G.E. certified 501c3 exhibition platform BFI (Bas Fisher Invitational). She has been the chair of the Visual Arts panel awarding and mentoring top high school art students with the National Foundation for YoungArts; lectures and does studio visits in schools like Princeton’s architecture program, Rogaland Kunstsenter, Norway; the University of Florida’s Visual Arts Program, and the CUNY photography program; and has been working on large scale public art commissions.
Fisher’s work has been exhibited internationally in such venues as the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Halle fur Kunst, Luneburg; Kemper Museum, Kansas City; Kunsthalle Wein, Vienna; Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami; and the Deste Foundation, Athens. Her work is included in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Art Boston, the Rubell Museum and more.

Kim Beck
Kim Beck has created Grand Openings at the Grand Canyon and skywriting events from New York to Missouri. Moving fluidly between media, she has shown work on billboards along I70 & in botanical gardens, on a flagpole at Laumeier Sculpture Park, on rooftops along the High Line, NYC and at the Walker Art Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Smack Mellon, Socrates Sculpture Park, Warhol Museum, OK Center for Contemporary Art (Linz), Indianapolis Museum of Art, Art Omi, Yale School of Architecture and Hallwalls Center for Contemporary Art. She has been awarded artist residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, Art Omi, Bemis Center, Mass MoCA, International Studio and Curatorial Program, Montalvo Art Center and has received awards from ARS Electronica & Printed Matter. She grew up in Colorado and now lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon.,