The 2021 Grant Recipients

PAAM is thrilled to announce the 2021 Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant recipients: Cat Balco of Hamden, CT; Michelle Muldrow of Portland, OR; and Elizabeth Tremante of Los Angeles, CA. The three were awarded a total of $30,000 and will have a group exhibition at PAAM in 2022. The jurors were painter Sam Messer; Kate Crawford, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art; and Portland, OR based artist Genevieve Busby.

The Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Grant is awarded annually to under-recognized American painters over the age of 45 who demonstrate financial need. The mission of this grant is to promote public awareness of and a commitment to American art, and to encourage interest in artists who lack adequate recognition. The Orlowsky and Freed Grant was started in 2010. There have been 40 recipients to date with more than $340,000 being dispersed to under-recognized American painters over the age of 45.



“I make my paintings with push or hand brooms of varying sizes, never smaller than 12” across. The brooms are significant to me because they are laborers’ tools, not fine artists’ tools, and they speak to my personal background as the descendant of working class immigrants. I love the paradox that a painting – potentially one of the most valuable man-made objects – can be made with lowly workman’s tools: push brooms, inexpensive canvas, and paint. The paintings are constructed of a limited sequence of marks – usually about 9 per painting – that are gestural but minimal.”


“My most recent work is focused specifically on the Pacific Northwest. I paint the faded plastic flowers that lie alongside pioneers’ tombstones in neglected cemeteries, the clear cut forests, the aftermath of wildfires, the minutiae of daily life and the glorious beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I explore master narratives of place. The impact of settler colonialism, ecology, economic struggle and land management: all are reflected in the landscape.

My methodology involves gathering huge volumes of imagery; I gather historical documents, visit small local museums, shoot source photographs, collect maps and on-site sketch. From this, I sort and I paint everything, then winnow down the essential elements that become the signifiers in understanding my surrounding environment. I choose my mediums and stylistic approaches to these landscapes with attention to the history of landscape painting and how that history relates to the contemporary landscape.”


“Pitting Motherhood vs. Modernism in museum misadventures is the slapstick showdown at the core of my work. Sucking viewers into a matrix of contradictions, these paintings entangle the violence of contemporary art and art history with the lives and bodies of artists, viewers and children.

While unfettered children get the run of the museum, their mothers are preoccupied with how to explain (and whether to rationalize) the violence, hypocrisy and sexism in both historical and contemporary artworks, their discourses and exhibition spaces. Employing physical comedy, horror-movie tropes and comic-book action, these self-possessed paintings merge form and meaning to create visual and narrative complexities that unravel Modernism’s comfortable notions of universality.”



Currently based in Oregon, Genevieve Rae Busby creates work that explores the interconnectedness of our material world, both natural and human-made. Throughout her practice, she insists on the importance of examining the everyday things that populate our world, of considering the strange agency of objects and our fraught – but also delightful – material relationships. Caught in delicate gouache strokes or suspended in resin, her objects and paintings bring the stuff of our frenetic, contemporary world into focus, offering opportunity for critical reflection and wonder. Originally from a small farm in rural Kansas, she has shown work in shows in Providence, RI, Lawrence, KS, Mexico City and the Bay Area, and recently received her MFA from Mills College.


Living and working in Birmingham, Alabama, Kate Crawford is The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. In her work on American art, Kate has highlighted the work of little-known artists and local and regional experiences. At the BMA she has done this work through the museum’s collection and galleries, as well as exhibitions including Ways of Seeing: Buildings and Monuments (2020), Magic City Realism: Richard Coe’s Birmingham (2018), and For Freedoms: Civil Rights and Human Rights (2018). Prior to moving to Birmingham, Kate was the Assistant Curator of American Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. There she presented a number of exhibitions and, with colleagues in the Education department, developed a curriculum that uses objects in the American art collection to teach the content on the Civics portion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Naturalization Test to new immigrants residing in the area. She earned a PhD from the University of Virginia, with a dissertation on portrait painting in the eighteenth-century Caribbean, and a BA from Columbia University.


Sam Messer received a B.F.A. from Cooper Union and an M.F.A. from Yale University. He is represented by Nielsen Gallery, Boston, and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles. His work may be found in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Art Institute of Chicago, and Yale University Art Gallery. Mr. Messer has received awards including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant, the Engelhard Award, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has recently collaborated with Paul Auster on The Story of My Typewriter, and with Denis Johnson on Cloud of Chalk. He was appointed senior critic at Yale in 1994 and in 2005 was appointed associate dean and professor (adjunct). He also serves as director of the art division of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art.