Sightlines editor Jeanne Claire van Ryzin awarded $50,000 Rabkin Prize for arts journalism

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor of Sightlines
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor of Sightlines

Sightlines founder and editor Jeanne Claire van Ryzin has been awarded the $50,000 Rabkin Prize for arts journalism.

The prize is given by the artist-endowed Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation, headquartered in Portland, Maine. The national grant program recognizes eight visual art journalists each year with an unrestricted prize of $50,000.

“I am humbled to receive the Rabkin Prize,” said van Ryzin. “I admire the Rabkin Foundation’s recognition of the important role that journalists and critics writing for a general readership play in the arts eco-system.”

This is the sixth cycle of the Rabkin Prize which started in 2017. To date, the foundation has given more than $2.7 million to individual art journalists. The award program is by nomination only.

“Writers play an essential role in any vibrant arts community but are too seldom acknowledged and often poorly paid,” the foundation states. “The intellectual and creative contributions of visual arts journalists help sustain and shape artists’ careers. Reviews, articles, blogs, narrative videos and other forms of critical writing provide the first historical record of living art communities.”

Jurors for this year’s award were: Eric Gibson (Arts in Review editor of the Wall Street Journal), Sasha Anawalt (Professor Emerita of Journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism), and Paul Schmelzer (Founder of The Ostracon: Dispatches from Beyond Contemporary Art’s Center).

Van Ryzin founded Sightlines in 2017 using her own savings to launch the non-profit online magazine.

Before launching Sightlines, van Ryzin was for many years the staff arts critic and reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. In 2016, her position was eliminated, a fate increasingly common as legacy media outlets abandon professional arts journalism.

“I saw firsthand the need this left in the city for a trusted voice to provide cultural coverage,” van Ryzin said. “Austin is widely celebrated for its creative spirit, and Sightlines seeks to report on this fertile, cross-disciplinary cultural landscape.”

Now approaching its fifth year, Sightlines is viewed by 400,000 annually in Texas and beyond.

The Rabkin Foundation’s national grant program for visual art journalists honors Leo Rabkin’s keen interest in art criticism, artists and writers. Leo Rabkin was an artist who worked and exhibited in New York City for 60 years. His wife, Dorothea, joined with Leo to create a landmark collection of American folk and outsider art. They lived in Chelsea and had a wide circle of friends including artists, writers and curators in New York City and beyond. Dorothea Rabkin (1921-2008) emigrated to the United States from Berlin, Germany, after World War II having been hidden throughout the war. She grew to love America for its cultural and artistic freedom. Leo Rabkin died in 2015 at the age of 95. He had many friends among the city’s art journalists and, even in his nineties, was an avid reader of the art press.

Van Ryzin’s arts criticism has received first place awards from the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors and the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. She has also been awarded professional fellowships at USC’s Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the NEA/Columbia University Arts Journalism Institute.

Her cultural writing has appeared in the New York Times, Architecture magazine, Dwell, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Art Papers, Art Lies, and ICON design magazine, among other publications. And she has taught arts journalism at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts.

A graduate of Barnard College, van Ryzin holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Texas.

)ther winning journalists include: Shana Nys Dambrot (Los Angeles); Bryn Evans (Decatur, Georgia); Joe Fyfe (New York City); Stacy Pratt (Tulsa); Darryl F. Ratcliff, II (Dallas); Peter L’Official (Brooklyn); Margo Vansynghel (Seattle).


  1. Well done! Sightlines is essential for keeping up with Austin’s rich cultural scene. It’s good to see you recognized — and with cash as well as accolades.

  2. This is amazing news and so we’ll deserved. Though no longer an Austinite, I followed Jeanne Claire’s career through her many years with the Austin American Statesman. As a longtime volunteer for many cultural arts groups, I saw firsthand how committed she was to fair reporting and promoting.

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