Painting Up a Storm: Is Your Art Cool Enough for the First-Ever National Weather Center Biennale?

Painting Up a Storm: Is Your Art Cool Enough for the First-Ever National Weather Center Biennale?
Albert Bierstadt's "Estes Park, Colorado," 1869
(Courtesy Wikipaintings)

It’s raining biennales! And though the National Weather Center (NWC) didn’t forecast the recent deluge of bi-annual art prizes, it did announce yesterday that it would throw its weatherproof hat in the ring. To wit, next year will see the debut of the National Weather Center Biennale. Since we are already a week or so past April Fool's Day, we assume that this is not a joke. Indeed, there's some serious cash involved: The best weather-themed art picked for the show will score a $10,000 prize.

The call for submissions to the NWC Biennale launches later this month, with artists asked to propose work anytime between April 22 (which, appropriately, is Earth Day) and October 1 (which does not coincide with any particular environmental holiday). The inaugural exhibition will open April 22, 2013, at the NWC’s main building on the University of Oklahoma’s campus in Norman, Oklahoma, and close on June 2.


OU instructor Alan Atkinson, who will serve as both curator and a member of the initial selection committee, explained the thinking behind the biennale in a press release announcing the new exhibition and prize: "It is easy to see how the weather influences peoples’ daily lives, but art often exerts a more subtle influence. It makes sense to combine them in a venue that will underscore the ways that both art and weather shape our humanity."

What kind of art can we expect in the National Weather Center Biennale? "Acceptable media categories include paintings in oil, acrylic, gouache & watercolor, works on paper including all dry media (graphite, colored pencil, pastel, etc.) and hand-pulled prints and photography," according to the contest specifications. Submissions also cannot exceed 60 by 60 inches and 50 pounds, and must be fitted to be hung on a wall. In other words, if you were looking for the environmental installations of someone like Danish-Islandic "weather artist" Olafur Eliasson, don't get your hopes up. 

An as-yet-undetermined jury of three — a national meteorologist, a contemporary museum staffer, and a renowned artist — will select winners of $5,000 prizes in three categories (painting, works on paper and photography) and confer the prize for the best piece of weather art among the 100 works included in the exhibition. Participating artists can submit up to three works for consideration — though competition for the sizable purse is bound to be tempestuous and not suitable for artists susceptible to high-pressure systems.

This is an expanded version of a post that originally appeared on ARTINFO's IN THE AIR blog.