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Credit: The Table with the Mirror by Ned Behnke, 1980 acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the Behnke Foundation.

Opens June 4, 2023

Celebrating Pacific Northwest Artists: 25 Years of the Neddy Awards

The Behnke Foundation, Cornish College of the Arts and MOHAI are excited to celebrate the Neddy Artist Awards and explore contemporary art in the Northwest with a major retrospective exhibit highlighting past grand prize award recipients. Created 25 years ago to honor Seattle artist and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989), the Neddy Artist Awards recognize innovative visual artists across media.

On view at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) from June 4-September 5, 2023, this exhibit, curated by Negarra A. Kudumu, features work by some of the most significant Northwest artists of the last quarter century.

Photo Credit: The Table with the Mirror by Ned Behnke, 1980 acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the Behnke Foundation.

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This exhibition is curated by Negarra A. Kudumu and developed in collaboration with the Behnke Foundation, Cornish College of the Arts, and the Museum of History & Industry.

The Impact of the Neddy Awards

“I was the second artist to receive the Neddy. What it did for my career, far surpassed its immediate financial benefits. This prestigious award and stamp of approval not only increased my visibility and sales, but it also led to opportunities I may not have had without it. I will always be grateful for the honor of being a recipient and for the Behnke family’s generous tribute to Ned.”

– Juan Alonso-Rodríguez

About the Neddy Artist Award

The Neddy Artist Awards offers one of the largest artist awards in the Pacific Northwest, providing two gifts of $25,000, and six of $2,000 to visual artists based in the Puget Sound region every year. From a selection of eight finalists, two grand prize awardees are selected by an annually rotating National Juror. The Neddy at Cornish program is funded by a grant from the Behnke Foundation and stewarded by Cornish College of the Arts as a tribute to the Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke.

The Neddy Artist Award program honors the legacy of Seattle painter and teacher Ned Behnke (1948-1989). Ned was the son of Robert and Sally Skinner Behnke.

Deaf from birth, Ned Behnke expressed himself in the visual arts from an early age. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central Washington University, and his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts (painting) from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. He lived and worked in Seattle, where he taught art to hearing-impaired students at Cornish College of the Arts, and other institutions. His legacy is in evidence throughout our community, through the generous philanthropy of the Behnke family.

Curator's Biography

Negarra A. Kudumu is an interlocutrice working at the intersection of art and healing with a focus on contemporary art from the Pacific Northwest, Africa, South Asia, and their respective diasporas.

In her art practice, she functions as a curator, writer, and public speaker. Negarra’s recent curatorial expertise includes the 2022 Neddy Award Exhibition, a group exhibition at the 2021 ARCO Madrid art fair for the Lisbon-based art gallery MOVART, and three exhibitions during her tenure as curator at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle (CoCA) featuring works by artists Selma Waldman, Meghan Elizabeth Trainor, and Rajaa Gharbi respectively. In 2017 and 2018, Negarra self-produced a series of online exhibitions featuring emerging and established artists based in the United States, Canada, and The Netherlands titled, Curatorial Lab.

Negarra’s writing has been published in notable volumes such as Atlantica: Contemporary Art From Angola and Its Diaspora (Hangar Books, 2018) and Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art From the Walther Collection (Steidl/The Walther Collection, 2017). She has also contributed essays to exhibition catalogs, gallery publications, and art world magazines in the United States and Canada.

Negarra regularly lectures, participates in talks, and moderates panels on various topics related to contemporary art. Over the past five years, she has been invited to speak in Calgary, Toronto, Amsterdam, Harare, and Venice on a range of topics including the intersections between art and healing, art education, and alternative artistic practice. Most recently, she participated in the second Loophole of Retreat conference, curated by Rashida Bumbray, in connection with Simone Leigh’s participation in the 59th Venice Biennale.

Negarra lives and works in Seattle, WA.

Past Neddy Grand Prize Award Recipients

Inye Wokoma (2019)

Priscilla Dobler Dzul (2022)

All Past Neddy Grand Prize Award Recipients

  • 2022 Priscilla Dobler Dzul and Myron Curry
  • 2020 Tariqa Waters and Anthony White
  • 2019 Inye Wokoma and Aramis O. Hamer
  • 2018 Timea Tihanyi and Lakshmi Muirhead
  • 2017 Che Sehyun and Christopher Paul Jordan
  • 2016 Clyde Petersen and Nathan DiPietro
  • 2015 Wynne Greenwood and Matt Browning
  • 2014 Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes and Susanna Bluhm
  • 2013 Victoria Haven and Matthew Offenbacher
  • 2012 Eirik Johnson and Stacey Rozich
  • 2010 Richard Marquis and Margie Livingston
  • 2009 April Surgent and Eric Elliott
  • 2008 Akio Takamori and Randy Hayes
  • 2007 Whiting Tennis
  • 2006 Barbara Robertson and Brian Murphy
  • 2005 Joseph Park
  • 2004 Claire Cowie
  • 2003 Susan Dory
  • 2002 Dionne Haroutunian and Donnabelle Casis
  • 2001 Chris Bruch and Mark Takamichi Miller
  • 2000 Claudia Fitch and Mary Ann Peters
  • 1999 Jeffry Mitchell and Doug Keyes
  • 1998 Benjamin Wilkins and Lauri Chambers
  • 1997 Juan Alonso-Rodriguez
  • 1996 Michael Spafford

Official Sponsors

The Neddy Artist Award program is funded by the Behnke Foundation and stewarded by Cornish College of the Arts as a tribute to the Seattle painter and teacher Robert E. [Ned] Behnke (1948-1989).

Behnke Foundation

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