Celebrating the City: 2018 MAS Awards

Honoring Excellence in Art and Architecture

Please join the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) on April 11 for an evening of awards and conversation, followed by a toast to MAS’s 125th Anniversary.

The Brendan Gill Prize was established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill by friend and fellow MAS board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with board members Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington. The Prize is given each year to the creator of a specific work—a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film or choreographic piece—that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City.

Selected each year by our esteemed jury, the MASterworks Awards pay tribute to projects that make a significant contribution to New York City’s built environment. From some of the city’s most iconic buildings to inconspicuous local gems, our list of past winners includes the likes of New Lab, the Fulton Center, McCarren Pool, TKTS Booth, the High Bridge, and the Museum at Eldridge Street.

The event is FREE for members, and $25 for general admission.

Wednesday, April 11
6:30 PM — 9:30 PM

Program: Playhouse Theater at Abrons Arts Center, part of the Henry Street Settlement
466 Grand St, New York, New York 10002
Reception: Saint Mary Grand
440 Grand St, New York, New York 10002

Member: Free
Non-member: $25

  • Melissa Rachleff, Julia Wertz
    2018 Brendan Gill Prize Winners: Melissa Rachleff (left) and Julia Wertz (right)
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  • Red Grooms transporting artwork to Reuben Gallery, New York, 1960.
    Image displayed in Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965. Red Grooms transporting artwork to Reuben Gallery, New York, 1960. Photograph by John Cohen.
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  • 2018 Brendan Gill Prize winner: Julia Wertz for "Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City." Image courtesy of Julia Wertz.
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  • 1540 Broadway, 2015. Image by Julia Wertz from Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City.
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2018 Brendan Gill Prize Honorees

Melissa Rachleff

Inventing Downtown: Artist–Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965

Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965—a catalogue and an exhibition organized by the Grey Art Gallery at New York University—vividly brought to life a period from fifty years ago in which a variety of independent, artist-run galleries invigorated what is today’s East Village. The innovative project, enriched by the contributions and participation of distinguished living artists, reevaluated the creativity and diversity of this group of visionaries, many of whom were women and people of color. It was a time when the making of art was unattached to the commerce of it; a provocative and dazzling moment in the art history of New York City.

Melissa Rachleff is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Administration Program at NYU: Steinhardt, where she concentrates on the nonprofit sector. Melissa began her career as the assistant curator at Exit Art and co-curated exhibitions on the intersection of visual art and design, and documentation. She also worked on exhibits about living artists at mid-career. As a program officer at the New York State Council on the Arts from 1999-2007, Melissa was an advocate in supporting contemporary art projects done in collaboration with local communities. Melissa has written about artist organizations for a variety of publications. Her essay, “Do It Yourself: A History of Alternatives” was published in Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces (MIT Press) in 2012.

Julia Wertz

Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York

Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City combines the exceptional talents of a skilled documentarian, meticulous cartoonist, and urban environmentalist while embracing multiple communities, small city moments, and hidden histories with contemporary architectural and social transformations. Discerning and witty commentaries pair with crisp black-and-white drawings to capture the City’s dynamism, unearthing strange and wondrous facts about New York’s past and present, pining for neither nostalgia nor rebuke.

Julia Wertz is a professional cartoonist, amateur historian and part-time urban explorer/photographer. She made the comic books The Fart Party vol 1 and vol 2, (collected in Museum of Mistakes) and the graphic novels Drinking at the Movies, and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories. Her newest book, Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional, Illustrated History of New York City, was published by Hachette in fall 2017. She does monthly comics and illustration for the New Yorker. Her work appears regularly in publications such as the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, and the Believer. She is a repeated MacDowell Colony Fellow, and currently splits her time between Northern California and New York City.

  • exterior of Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse at night
    Best New Building, Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
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  • visitors in living room at the Tenement Museum
    Best Restoration, Tenement Museum. Photo Credits: Tenement Museum, "Under One Roof" Exhibition, Copyright Sarah Mechling-Perkins Eastman.
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  • exterior of Empire Stores
    Best Adaptive Reuse, Empire Stores
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  • entrance to the Kew Gardens Hills Library
    Best New Urban Amenity, Kew Gardens Hills Library
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  • the West End Concourse in the Moynihan Train Hall
    Best New Infrastructure, Moynihan Train Hall and Farley Building Redevelopment Phase 1: New West End Concourse
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  • shrub beds at the Gowanus Sponge Park
    Best Urban Landscape, Gowanus Canal Sponge Park
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2018 MASterworks Awards Honorees

Best New Building

Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse

Best Restoration

Tenement Museum

Best Adaptive Reuse

Empire Stores

Best New Urban Amenity

Kew Gardens Hills Library

Best New Infrastructure

Moynihan Train Hall and Farley Building Redevelopment Phase 1: New West End Concourse

Best Urban Landscape

Gowanus Canal Sponge Park

2018 MASterworks Awards Jury

  • Dan Allen, Principal, CTA Architects P.C. & President, Historic Districts Council
  • Amy Freitag, Executive Director, J.M. Kaplan Fund
  • Amit Khurana, Founding Partner, Sumaida + Khurana & MAS Board of Directors
  • Alexandra Lange, Architecture Critic, Curbed
  • Enrique Norten, Director/Founder, TEN Arquitectos


Contact us at events@mas.org or (212) 935-3960.

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MAS is founded

The Municipal Art Society Is Founded

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) is established on March 22, 1893, by Richard Morris Hunt and other civic activists, with a founding mission to beautify New York with public art. Throughout its first century, the organization expanded its mission to include the city’s buildings, streetscapes, and public spaces, with the aim of bringing the voice of the public into the debates that impact the lives of New Yorkers.

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