Steve Parker Wins $15,000 Tito’s Art Prize


Austin artist Steve Parker has been awarded the $15,000 Tito’s Prize, an annual award established by arts organization Big Medium with funding by the Austin-based liquor company.

A musician by training, Parker’s artistic practice spans disciplines to include large scale site-specific performances, sound art installations and making inventive instruments.

In addition to the cash award, the Tito’s Prize includes a solo exhibition at Big Medium Gallery that will overlap with the East Austin Studio Tour, Nov. 10-11 and 17. Parker’s exhibit will open Oct. 19.

This is the second year the Tito’s Prize has been awarded.

[su_pullquote]Read a profile of Parker: “What is Steve Parker actually doing?”[/su_pullquote]

Parker was unanimously selected by a three person curatorial panel, including Andrea Mellard, director of public programs & community engagement at Tihe Contemporary Austin; Dennis Nance, Galveston Arts Center curator and artist; and Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art.

“I’m immensely honored and grateful to Tito’s and Big Medium for this opportunity,” said Parker in a statement. “It’s hard to describe how momentous this award will be for my practice. In the short term, it will provide me with the space, financial support, feedback, and platform to develop and refine a new gallery-oriented body of work. Looking forward, I am hopeful this opportunity will help me to wrestle with some fundamental questions in my own work, and in turn, equip me to make a positive, long term impact to some of our city’s most pressing artistic, cultural, and social issues.”

Parker is probably best known in Austin for his Soundspace program at the Blanton Museum of Art, which started in 2011.

Among his large-scale public performances are “Bat/Man” a 2016 piece for experimental choir and amplified bats under Austin’s Congress Avenue bridge. Parker’s “Traffic Jam” was a performance for an ensemble of 80 carhorns, bicycles, pedicabs and automobiles. Its 2015 premiere was performed in an Austin parking lot.

In describing his own artistic practice Parker has said: “Essentially it’s making work at the intersection of happenings and installations, performance and social practice. Sort of the gray area of all those things.”

Parker’s listening devices inspired by World War II war tubas were installed in Austin’s Zilker Park as part of the city’s TEMPO initiative of temporary public art projects. Photo by Philip Rogers.


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