2019 Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant Honorees

Recipients: Julie Buffalohead, Tom Burckhardt, Wilfredo Mercado, Brigid Watson, & Randy Wray


After much delay, PAAM is pleased to present an exhibition of work by the 2019 recipients of the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant: Julie Buffalohead of St. Paul, MN; Tom Burckhardt of New York, NY; Wilfredo Mercado of San Juan, PR; Brigid Watson of South Boston, MA; and Randy Wray of Brooklyn, NY. PAAM is especially excited to present this exhibition as it was originally slated for Fall of 2020. These five American painters over the age of 45 were chosen from more than 500 applicants, recognized for their talent, as well their ability to greatly benefit from this grant.

Grant Administrator Grace Ryder-O’Malley writes that the grant is a highlight of the work she does at PAAM: “It gives us the chance to support working artists not only monetarily but also through an exhibition here at PAAM. It is also very special for PAAM as it brings artists and artwork to our visitors that may not have otherwise been part of the Provincetown and PAAM communities. We are so grateful to Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed for their generosity in creating this opportunity.” The grant has garnered attention from a number of national publications and organizations for its support of non-emerging artists. “We hope word continues to spread about this wonderful grant and that more painters from across the country will apply.”

Jurors: The jurors for this year’s award were Mary Schneider Enriquez, PhD, Harvard Art Museum’s Houghton Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art; artist David Humphrey, an American painter, art critic, and sculptor associated with the postmodern turn in painting that began in the late 1970s; and Dr. Sarita Heer, Instructor of Art History in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Loyola University of Chicago.

Statistics: This year we awarded only five awards out of nearly five hundred applicants. Applicants hailed from 40 states and four countries, ranged in age from 45 to 89, and were 63% female and 37% male. Recipients were awarded a total of $30,000.



“My work has focused thematically upon describing Indian cultural experience through personal metaphor and narrative, drawing from the substance of traditional stories while contextualizing motifs of cultural identity. In pictorial terms, the works tend to evoke animals or anthropomorphism within a painterly field, who are caught within the human condition, often tragic and comedic. Using an eclectic pallet, my painting juxtaposes evolving representations of animal spirit, deer, and coyote forms, and speaks to issues of commercialization of Native culture.

I am a member of the Ponca tribe, and I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am formerly a figurative oil painter. Since 2008 when I became pregnant with my daughter and could not work with materials containing solvents, I began working with handmade paper, gauche and water based media, lithography, screen printing, and various forms of collage. In recent years I have ventured back to larger scale oil painting.

Native American cultural knowledge is transmitted through story telling, which I reference in the work. Instead of being illustrative, my intent is to recontextualize characters from traditional stories, to exist in a world of my own present day experience. In my work, animals and humans – interact together weaving a personal narrative within an American and Indian cultural framework.”


Tom Burckhardt was born in New York City in 1964 and has spent his entire life living there. He graduated with a BFA in painting from SUNY Purchase in 1986 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture that same year. He has been exhibiting since 1992 at various NYC galleries such as Tibor De Nagy Gallery, Pierogi and Caren Golden Fine Art, and the Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco CA.

His most recent solo show of paintings was at Gregory Lind Gallery in Spring 2019. Burckhardt participated in the 2016 Kochi Muziris Bienalle in Kerala, India and that installation piece, “Studio Flood” was shown at the Pierogi Gallery, NYC in September 2017 and CMCA in Maine during Summer 2018. He was a resident faculty at Skowhegan in 2007 and currently teaches part time at SUNY Purchase.


Wilfredo Mercado’s work investigates social political issues of the past, future and present situations. Currently residing in Puerto Rico he holds a BFA from the University of Illinois. Painting has been his preferred medium, for the most part of his career, to express the expansive panorama of the human condition. He uses what he calls “forensic aesthetics’’ to find a language of pictorial states of emotions in order to bridge the realms of fantasy and reality. Is our humanity the only course of action? Should we expand the language to allow for more perceptions of realities? Should we allow the machine and the spirit to coalesce into a new evolution? The protections of governments, the clashing claims of riots, the possessions of resources that shift meaning of control into the expressions of functions to the individual or larger group. Mercado continues to push these parameters together and apart not only to convey but to evaluate. He has held numerous exhibitions which continues to bring to the public the elements that deeply separate and join us.


Brigid Watson is an abstract oil painter who grew up in Kent, Ohio. Watson has undergraduate degrees from The School of the Museum of Arts, Boston and Tufts University and obtained a Masters degree in Venice, Italy through New York University. Represented by a gallery in North Carolina, she has been in shows in Boston, Provincetown, Denver, Los Angeles, Italy, and Toronto.

Watson’s work is characterized by heavily impastoed surfaces and a highly personal use of color. She often explores color trends and how they reflect social constructs such as anxiety, freedom, and power. For example, colors prominent in contemporary society act as barometers of the social climate. Likewise, colors in the natural world are barometers of environmental stress and change in climate. Sometimes these worlds connect. We have anxiety, for example, about climate change. What color is that?


Born in North Carolina, Randy Wray lives and works in New York. He holds a diploma from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art. His residencies include the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program. Wray is the recipient of awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Gottlieb Grant, and a NYFA Painting Fellowship.

Wray has had solo exhibitions in the United States and abroad, most notably at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo; White Columns, New York; Derek Eller Gallery, New York; and Greenville County Art Museum, SC. Group exhibitions include MoMA PS1, New York; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY; Kate MacGarry Gallery, London; Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York; Feature Inc., New York; and Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI.

Want to check it out in-person? Book tickets here.

Image Credit: Julie Buffalohead, A Little Medicine and Magic (detail),  17 x 21″, mixed media; Tom Burckhardt, Orange Hell (detail), 2018, 60 x 88″, oil on linen; Wilfredo Mercado, The Prize (detail), 60×48, oil; Brigid Watson, Petite Mr. Pink (detail),  2018 6” x 6” oil on canvas; Randy Wray, Residuum (detail), 2016, 90 x 78 inches, oil on linen.