MacArthur Genius Grant Series at Real Art Ways

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MacArthur Genius Grant Series

I want to tell you something remarkable. Something you probably aren’t aware of. You may already know that Real Art Ways is pretty good at what we do.

But did you know Real Art Ways has presented the work of (drum roll, please)…
42…(!!!) MacArthur Genius Grant Awardees? We’re going to share a bit about them in coming weeks.

– Will K. Wilkins


Ken Vandermark has performed at Real Art Ways in 2013, 2014, and most recently last year. He is known for his vivid mixture of free improvisation and complex composition. He received his MacArthur Fellowship in 1999.

Ken Vandermark performing at Real Art Ways

L to R: Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley, Joe Morris, and Stephen Haynes, at Real Art Ways. Photo by Rob Miller


The two most recent films Real Art Ways has presented by the great documentarian Frederick Wiseman are In Jackson Heights and Ex Libris: New York Public Library, documenting all 92 branches of the New York Public Library. Wiseman received his MacArthur Fellowship in 1982.

Frederick Wiseman sitting in a chair in a narrow hallway


Real Art Ways organized and hosted the 1984 New Music America festival, at a number of Hartford venues. We presented saxophonist John Zorn. Zorn received his MacArthur Fellowship in 2006.

Portrait of John Zorn

NYT Masthead

NY Times article

NY Times detail



Real Art Ways presented video artist Bill Viola’s “The Locked Garden” in the 2002 group exhibition “Acquiring Taste.” Viola received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.

Portrait of Bill Viola


Josiah McElheny, a glass artist who makes exquisite objects and engages with big ideas, had work in “Exhibition Room” in 2000 and “Faith” in 2006. Josiah received his MacArthur Fellowship in 2006.

Josiah standing among his glass sculptures

A round glass plate decorated with lines



In 1980, Real Art Ways presented choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainier’s Journeys From Berlin/1971. Rainer received her MacArthur Fellowship in 1990.


Real Art Ways presented the late George Russell (composer, music theorist, and educator) with his Living Time Orchestra in 1988. Russell received his MacArthur Fellowship the next year.

George Russell on stage

Hartford Courant Masthead

Headline "Russell Orchestra enlivens Real Art Ways Event"

Newspaper article about George Russell

Newspaper article about George Russell




We have presented three films by Laura Poitras, The Oath (including a post-film discussion with Laura) in 2010, the Academy Award Winning Citizenfour in 2015, and Risk in 2017. She received her MacArthur Fellowship in 2012.



Meredith Monk is a composer, performance artist, and video artist. Real Art Ways presented her work multiple times, including a 1981 solo concert, screenings of her video work in 1984, 85, 88, and a performance in 1987, presented with Trinity College and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Monk received her MacArthur Fellowship in 1995.

Title of Hartford Courant article on Meredith Monk

text of Hartford Courant article on Meredith Monk.



Janine Antoni’s video pieces Migration (made in collaboration with Paul Ramirez Jonas) and Ready or Not, Here I Come were included in the 2000 group exhibition Moving Pictures. She received her MacArthur Fellowship in 1998.

Janine Antoni's video piece "Migration". There are two tv's on the floor. Each tv has footage of a couple walking on the beach.



In 1985, Real Art Ways celebrated jazz legend, Ornette Coleman, by hosting and organizing the week-long Ornette Coleman Festival. The festival opened with a free concert featuring Ornette and his jazz-funk band, Prime Time, and he was also honored with the keys to the city. In collaboration with Cinestudio, Real Art Ways premiered “ORNETTE: Made in America”. Ornette received his MacArthur Fellowship in 1994

Ornette Coleman smiling and holding a saxophone.

NY Times logo and headline

NY Times article about Ornette Coleman at Real Art Ways

NY Times article about Ornette Coleman at Real Art Ways



Julie Ault is a founding member of artist collaborative Group Material. In 1990, in conjunction with their “AIDS Timeline” exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Real Art Ways commissioned and produced their public art project “AIDS Bus Poster.” An edition of 50 were placed on public buses in Hartford, the nation’s insurance capital. Ault received her MacArthur Fellowship in 2018.

Poster from Group Material "AIDS Bus Poster" project. Image of George Bush and a quote about AIDS.

Bus driving through Hartford. On the bus is the Group Material "AIDS Bus Poster".




In 1990, Real Art Ways screened Burnett’s Killer of Sheep using a rented truck that traveled to several locations, including George Day Park and Sheldon Oaks Central. Burnett received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1988. 

Burnett’s masterpiece was one of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and was chosen by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the 100 Essential Films. Killer of Sheep focuses on everyday life in black communities in a manner rarely seen in American cinema.

Available to rent from Milestone Films



Gary Hill first showed at Real Art Ways in our Daniel Wadsworth Memorial Video Festival in 1987. Also, his installation Standing Apart was part of our 2000 group exhibition “Moving Pictures.” He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1998.

Film still from Gary Hill's "Standing Apart" Two identical men are facing each other.



In collaboration with the Wadsworth Atheneum, Real Art Ways presented “Shatterhand Massacree-Riderless Horse” in 1989. Jesurun received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1996. Find out more about John Jesurun HERE.




In 1992, in collaboration with Trinity College, we included Fred’s work in “The Order of Things: Toward A Politic of Still Life”. Fred received his MacArthur Genius Grant in 1999.

Postcard from group exhibition "The Order of Things".



Musician and composer Anthony Braxton has performed multiple times at Real Art Ways, including solo concerts in 1979 and 1984 and a duo with Richard Teitelbaum in 1980. Braxton taught at Wesleyan University from 1993 – 2013. He received a MacArthur Genius grant in 1994.


Anthony Braxton holding a baritone saxophone.




Sayles is an important independent filmmaker. Real Art Ways screened his film’s “Honeydripper” in 2008, and “Go For Sisters” in 2013. He has also appeared at Cinestudio and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Sayles was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1983.

John Sayles standing in front of a cityscape.



In March of 1981, author Walter Abish did a reading from How German Is It (1981), Minds Meet (1975), and In The Future Perfect (1977). (This coincided with a solo exhibition by MacArthur Fellow Cindy Sherman.) Abish was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1987.

Side profile of Walter Abish from the waist up. One hand on his hip, the other against a wall. He wears a patch over one eye.


Newspaper masthead " The Trinity Tripod". Article is from 1981

Article text announcing Abish's readings at Real Art Ways



Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” opened at Real Art Ways on August 16, 2013.

He was awarded his MacArthur in 2014.



One of the singular documentary filmmakers of our time. Real Art Ways has shown several of his films, including “The Fog of War” (2003), “The Unknown Known” (2014), “Standard Operating Procedure” (2008), and “Fast, Cheap, And Out Of Control”(1997).

He received his MacArthur Genius Grant in 1989.



n 1996, Real Art Ways commissioned Manglano-Ovalle to create new work in our unrenovated gallery space. Please read the insightful review by the late Owen McNally of the Hartford Courant here.

Manglano-Ovalle received his MacArthur Genius Grant in 2001.

Newspaper article about Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's work at RAW.




Judy had a solo exhibition of her multimedia works in 1986. She returned to Hartford in 1993 serving as an artist-in-residence at the University of Hartford. She received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2004.



Work from Carrie’s critically acclaimed The Kitchen Table Series was included in the 1990 group exhibition Presumed Identities. She received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2013.



Curator, historian, and photographer Deborah Willis worked with Real Art Ways as a member of our jury for STEP UP 09, an open call for emerging artists. Deborah received her MacArthur Genius Grant in 2000.



In 1981, Real Art Ways presented a Merce Cunningham film festival, showcasing films of his choreography scored by his longtime partner, John Cage. In 2019 we showed the documentary film Cunningham, a celebration of his work, which premiered on what would have been his 100th birthday. He received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1985.



Mary has performed several times at Real Art Ways, most recently in 2018 with Taylor Ho Bynum. She was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2019. Her projects range from experimental and hybrid improvisations, collaborations with vocalists, to solo compositions. (In the top photo she appears with cellist Tomeka Reid, in front of a large-scale photo created by the artist Andy Buck, who passed away in March.)

Mary seated playing the cello inside the gallery.




In 1993, Hartford was suffering through violent gang warfare. Pepón Osorio had an idea to create an art installation based on an all-male Puerto Rican barbershop, a place where masculinity and machismo reign (for better and for worse.) We talked about making it a public art project, found an empty store, and Pepón created his over-the-top “En La Barbería No Se Llora” (No Crying Allowed in the Barbershop) in the summer of 1994. Area barbers gave free haircuts at the opening, a jibaro band played, and it was broadcast on local Spanish-language radio. Pepón received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1999.

Barbershop store front installation by Pepon. Red text" En La Barberia No Se Llora".

Questions of Practice: Artist Pepón Osorio on the Role of the Arts in Expanding Dialogue Beyond the “Local” from Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on Vimeo.




Luis Alfaro is a performance artist, playwright, educator and curator. He performed his one-man show No Holds Barrio at Real Art Ways in February of 2007, when he was in town working with our friends at the Hartford Stage. He received a MacArthur Fellow award in 1997.



Ida Applebroog is a multimedia artist who received a MacArthur Genius award in 1998. Real Art Ways presented a solo exhibition of her work in 1985, and included her in the group exhibition 15 Years of RAW in 1990.

RAW at 15 exhibition postcard, featuring Ida Appleboorg's name.



Camille is a new media artist working in interactive installations. Her “Untitled 5” was presented by Real Art Ways in 2006. She received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009. She teaches at Stanford University.

Camille's digital installation of colorful shapes projects on the wall. Children dance in front of it.

“Untitled 5” at Real Art Ways



Real Art Ways presented the late, great Cecil Taylor twice. Many musicians we work with were close to him, including Taylor Ho Bynum and Stephen Haynes. Cecil was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1991.

Here is an article from Rolling Stone

Musician, Cecil Taylor playing the piano




We presented Cindy Sherman’s work in the late 70’s, and again in 1991(15 Years of RAW), and 1992 (The Order of Things: Toward a Politic of Still Life) (in collaboration with Trinity College). She was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1995.


NY Times article featuring Cindy Sherman's work.





It feels like Stanley was just here, but it was more than 4 years ago that he came with his documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Stanley was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2002. Others of his many films include Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, and The Murder of Emmet Till.





Mark was in our 2003 group exhibition, Lean, Too, curated by Eungie Joo. His piece Burn Baby Burn was featured, and we got a nice review in the New York Times. Mark was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009.

New York Times article about Lean Too exhibition.

Click the image to read the article.




Trevor’s work was in our group show Nothing To Hide, curated by Edward Shanken and Jessica Hodin, in 2017, the same year Paglen was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant.

His photographs show three of the largest agencies in the U.S. intelligence community – National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, Maryland; National Reconnaissance Office,Chantilly, Virginia; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Virginia, 2014.

A woman looking at Trevor Paglen's night time photographs on the wall.

Paglen’s images on display at Real Art Ways




Tyshawn has performed at Real Art Ways several times, with his own ensemble as well as in our Improvisations series, with Joe Morris and Stephen Haynes. He’s a neighbor, teaching at Wesleyan. Tyshawn was awarded a MacArthur Genius grant in 2017.

Tyshawn Sorey from the shoulders up. He is wearing a black shirt and is in front of a purple wall.

Tyshawn Sorey



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