The Municipal Art Society has named Subway Therapy and Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas as the winners of the 2017 Brendan Gill Prize. Artists from both projects will be honored during our Celebrating the City awards ceremony on Monday, May 15, at El Museo del Barrio.
The Brendan Gill Prize, endowed to permit a cash award, 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. Whether the nominated individual or group is well known or just emerging, the goal of the Gill Prize is to draw attention to the varieties of artistic experience that enrich our contemporary life.
The 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 selection of the winner is made by the Brendan Gill jury, an esteemed group of people intimately involved in the arts and culture of the city.
On May 11, at The Municipal Art Society Annual Meeting held at the Ford Foundation, the 2016 Brendan Gill Prize was presented to Hamilton: An American Musical and In Jackson Heights. Both works, though profoundly different, celebrated the role of immigrants in shaping the history and culture of New York City. The brashly revolutionary Hamilton and the quietly profound In Jackson Heights each reaffirm New York’s identity as the birthplace of the American dream and a city made stronger by its diversity.
The award to the creative team of Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, lyricist, actor: Alex Lacamoire, music director; Thomas Kail, director, and Andy Blakenbuehler, choreographer, was accepted on their behalf by the charismatic producer and exhilarating speaker, Jeffrey Seller. The certificate read:
Hamilton, a masterpiece that marries hip-hop and musical theater, ignited renewed excitement about New York City’s role in the American Revolution and the compelling story of our only immigrant funding father, Alexander Hamilton. By combining brilliant stage production, sensational soundtrack, a diverse cast, innovative choreography, Ham4Ham free performances, the musical celebrates the important impact immigrants had had on the history of our city and country.”
The award to filmmaker Frederick Wiseman for In Jackson Heights was accepted on his behalf by Queens Council Member Daniel Dromm who spoke movingly about the film. The certificate read:
To Frederick Wiseman for In Jackson Heights, the thought-provoking and illuminating documentary about New York City’s most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood which lends dignity to the importance of one of the most problematic and ongoing chapters in our nation’s history, the conversation about immigration, assimilation and integration, captured through fascinating interview and lively recording of the daily life of people in this community.