May 26, 2009 16:00 ET

Mexican Artist Marco Antonio Cruz Wins $50,000 Grange Prize

    TORONTO and MONTREAL, May 26  - With over 20,000 votes in a
nine-week span, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Aeroplan are pleased to
announce that Marco Antonio Cruz is the winner of the $50,000 Grange Prize for
2009. In its second year, the annual Grange Prize is the largest of its kind
in Canada and the only prize entirely determined by the public.
    The works of finalists' Lynne Cohen from Montreal, Federico Gama from
Mexico City, Jin-me Yoon from Vancouver and Marco Antonio Cruz from Mexico
City were displayed on the prize's website ( for some
60 days and garnered over 53,000 unique visitors by the time voting closed on
May 20. Cruz's captivating black-and-white photographic series of the blind in
Mexico captured votes from around the world, including Canada, Mexico, the
United States, South Korea, France, Spain, Germany, Peru and China.
    In addition to online voting, ballots were also cast on-site at
exhibitions this year in both countries. The Centro de la Imagen in Mexico
City hosted an exhibition from April 8 to May 31, and the AGO has displayed
the work of The Grange Prize shortlist since April 1 and will continue to
showcase the photographs until June 26.
    Over the course of the year, Grange Prize nominees participate in
residencies in both Canada and Mexico: Cohen spent over a week in Cancun this
past April exploring both public and private spaces of this tourist
destination; this fall Yoon will spend a week in Mexico City discovering
historically charged sites through video; Gama travels to Toronto this month
to create a portrait series of Mexican immigrants; and The Grange Prize winner
Marco Antonio Cruz visits various First Nations community groups in Ontario
this week, including the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre and
Woodland Cultural Centre.
    Launched in 2007, The Grange Prize, named in honour of the AGO's historic
home, is a partnership between Aeroplan and the AGO that recognizes the best
in Canadian and international contemporary photography. Every year, a joint
curatorial panel of experts selects candidates from Canada and one other
    "Photography transcends borders," said Matthew Teitelbaum, the Michael
and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO, Art Gallery of Ontario. "The 2009 Grange
Prize has successfully captured the imagination of the public in Canada, in
Mexico, and around the world. This prize solidifies our commitment to
showcasing talent and places the work of the finalists on the international
    "Aeroplan is thrilled to be presenting the Grange Prize with the AGO for
a second year," said Rupert Duchesne, President and CEO, Groupe Aeroplan Inc.
"We have been working together for more than three years now with the goal of
raising the profile of photography at home and abroad. We are very proud of
how the Grange Prize has evolved and continues to grow."
    The Mexico Tourism Board is a supporting sponsor of The Grange Prize
along with media sponsors The Globe and Mail and Bravo Television. The Mexican
Consulate in Toronto helped to facilitate relationships with the partnering
    The partnering country for the inaugural Grange Prize was China, and next
year's partner will be France.

    About Marco Antonio Cruz

    Marco Antonio Cruz studied painting in Puebla and later worked in Mexico
City as assistant to photographer Héctor Garcia. As he learned more about
photography, Cruz was also heavily influenced by the work of Nacho Lopez.
Since 1979, Cruz has been published as a photographer in major Mexican
newspapers, such as La Jornada, and in magazines - most notably LIFE, which
featured one of his well-known images from the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. In
1984, Cruz and a group of colleagues created the photographic agency
Imagenlatina. Cruz has participated in numerous individual and collective
exhibitions in Mexico and the United States. He has published two books:
Cafetaleros (Coffee Workers) (Imagenlatina, 1996), documenting the
exploitation of coffee workers in Guatemala; and Contra la Pared (Against the
Wall) (Grupo Desea, 1993).
    Cruz's series on blind people in Mexico is only one of the many
distinguished photo essays he has created during years of work. Cruz lives and
works in Distrito Federal and is currently working on a website which aims to
document - through photographs, text, and moving images - vast Mexico City,
formerly the Mexican capital known as Tenochtitlan.

    About Aeroplan

    Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009, Aeroplan, Canada's premier
loyalty program, is owned by Groupe Aeroplan Inc., a leading international
loyalty management corporation.
    Aeroplan is a long-standing patron of the Arts, with a history of
supporting artists and arts initiatives across Canada. Of particular
significance is the company's work, in partnership with the Art Gallery of
Ontario, to develop The Grange Prize for contemporary photography. Aeroplan is
committed to fostering a long-term, international dialogue about this
important art form. Aeroplan has also joined the AGO in a three-year
partnership as the Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program,
supporting planned AGO activities to engage visitors with photography,
including special lectures and tours.
    For more information about Aeroplan, please visit

    About the AGO

    With a permanent collection of more than 73,000 works of art, the Art
Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North
America. The Gallery began an extraordinary chapter when it launched
Transformation AGO in 2002. Multi-faceted in scope, Transformation AGO
involved the unprecedented growth of the permanent collection, an innovative
architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, and the
strengthening of the museum's endowment resources. As the imaginative centre
of the city, the transformed AGO dramatically enriches our visitors'
experiences and provides greater access to the full vibrancy of the art
    For more information visit
    The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of
Culture. Additional operating support is received from the Volunteers of the
AGO, the City of Toronto, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada
Council for the Arts./NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

Contact Information