Skip to main content

Solo Exhibition: 11th Biennial Rutsch Award Winner Matthew Cole

May 15, 2021 - June 26, 2021

Matthew Cole, Quarantine (2020). Acrylic on Canvas. 60 x 84 in.

11th Biennial Alexander Rutsch Award Winner



Pelham Art Center is pleased to announce Matthew Cole as the winner of the 11th Biennial Alexander Rutsch Award for Painting. A solo exhibition of paintings by Matthew Cole is on view May 15-June 26th at Pelham Art Center. The exhibition also includes a selection of original works by Alexander Rutsch. 

Matthew Cole is a New Jersey born artist who lives and works in New York City and Paris, France. He received his BFA from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) in 2010, and has exhibited in galleries in New York City, Paris, Philadelphia, and Cortona, Italy. Cole completed a 2018 artist residency in Okayama, Japan, and was the 2020 Artist in Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson, AZ. 

Cole employs traditional painting and preliminary printmaking methods to interpret memories of actual and subconscious events – amalgamations of real life and fantasy, often stemming from profound personal experiences. The processes of layering and distorting are instrumental in conveying emotion in his work. The artist uses composite imagery to represent the fragmented nature of memory, narrated through personal as well as familiar references from art history. 

Matthew Cole was selected for the 2021 Alexander Rutsch Award from among eight finalists and 730 total applicants nationwide. The judging panel for the 11th Biennial Rutsch Award was comprised of a Rutsch family member, Pelham Art Center affiliates, and three guest jurors: Krista Scenna, Independent Curator and Owner of Ground Floor Gallery; Shazzi Thomas, Director of The Painting Center; and Larry Ossei-Mensah, Curator and Co-Founder of ARTNOIR. 

The 2021 Alexander Rutsch Award finalists  include: Jessica Alazraki, Marietta Patricia Leis , Olivia Baldwin, Sky Pape, Justin Tyler Bryant, Jesse Wright, and Kyle Hackett. These exemplary artists represent a diverse range of perspective and artistic approach. 

The Rutsch family states: “We are honored and thrilled to have the Alexander Rutsch Award continue and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pelham Art Center. This year’s finalists are an incredible group of painters with an exciting range of vision. We look forward to sharing the 2021 winner, Matthew Cole’s magnificent work with the community. Thank you to the guest jurors, for their time and expertise. We are grateful to the Pelham Art Center staff and supporters for continuing this Award and exhibition at this exceptionally challenging time.” 


Download the Press Release


Purchase a Copy of the Matthew Cole Exhibition Catalog


Events – Free and Open to All

In-Gallery Opening Reception: Saturday, May 15th  1:00-4:00pm (Rutsch Award Presentation @ 2:00PM)
Virtual Opening Reception: Thursday, May 20th 6:00pm
Matthew Cole Virtual Studio Visit: Monday, June 14th 6:00pm



About the Rutsch Award

The Alexander Rutsch Award and Exhibition for Painting is a juried competition is open to U.S.-based artists aged 19 and older. The winner is awarded a $7,500 cash prize, a solo exhibition and printed catalog at Pelham Art Center. Pelham Art Center is proud to sponsor this competition and award honoring the memory and artistic achievement of artist Alexander Rutsch (1916 – 1997). Rutsch actively supported Pelham Art Center for more than 25 years. After his death, friends, family and supporters established a generous fund to support a biennial, open, juried competition in painting.  The 10th Rutsch Award recipient was Colorado-based artist Sarah McKenzie. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pelham Art Center, the 2021 Rutsch Award prize was increased to a total of $10,000 in artist stipends, with the winning artist receiving the $7,500 prize. The landmark stipend sum is also a response to the financial hardship affecting many artists at an exceptionally challenging time.

The Alexander Rutsch Award and Exhibition program continues Rutsch’s belief that art transcends all of our humanity. Rutsch saw art as “the stone in the water sending ripples throughout the universe.” His extraordinary work, rich in the celebration of life and our shared human experiences, is included in many public and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.


Previous Winners of the Biennial Rutsch Award:

2019 Award Winner: Sarah McKenzie
2017 Award Winner: Sammy Chong
2015 Award Winner: Lindy Chambers
2013 Award Winner: Siobhan McBride
2011 Award Winner: Nina Rizzo
2009 Award Winner: Tracy Miller
2007 Award Winner: Liang Guo
2005 Award Winner: Dorothy Robinson
2003 Award Winner: Mitchell Marco
2001 Award Winner: Frank Trankina