"Bottles of champagne for my friends in the press!" chortled a happy Marc Brodzik when a reporter called him yesterday to talk about the Pew Fellowships in the Arts.
Brodzik was one of a dozen area artists named winners of this year's $60,000 grants, the largest unrestricted grants of their kind for which artists may apply. Pew received nearly 400 applications for this year's awards in media arts, works on paper, and fiction and creative nonfiction.
Brodzik, 41, who won a media-arts fellowship, is a painter and filmmaker increasingly using the Internet as both a distribution tool and a shaper of art itself. His Scrapple.tv Web site features all manner of regular "shows."
In his film and video work, Brodzik focuses on ordinary people - sometimes in extraordinary circumstances, sometimes not. A recently completed film, for instance, concerned miners struggling to get by working small, family-owned mines in Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region.
Yesterday, his Scrapple.tv program Breakfast at Sulimay's, taped at a Fishtown diner, featured three older neighborhood residents reviewing recent hip-hop and French electro-pop recordings. ("Nasty," seemed to be the consensus on the former, "tres gentile" on the latter.)
"It's one of our most popular shows," said Brodzik, who said he would use "a large chunk" of the Pew grant to expand the Web site and its offerings.
Daniel Heyman, 46, a winner for his works on paper, said the Pew fellowship would make it possible for him to continue documenting the experiences of former prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
"It's a tremendous support financially," Heyman said. "It will allow me to do things I haven't been able to do."
For one thing, Heyman has been traveling to Istanbul to continue working with former prisoners; the cost has been overwhelming. "Pew is really going to help with that," he said.
He wants to begin a similar documentation project focused on women in the U.S. military in Iraq who have been raped by fellow soldiers.
Heyman said he would have to travel throughout this country to find the women and speak with them. The fellowship will help cover some of the expenses.
"There aren't that many people in the arts who are focused on human rights," he said. "The money from Pew will help continue this work. It's a huge boost."
The other winners this year are Anthony Campuzano, works on paper; Sarah Gamble, works on paper; Ken Kalfus, fiction and creative nonfiction; Jennifer Levonian, media arts; Robert Matthews, works on paper; Frances McElroy, media arts; Ben Peterson, works on paper; Marco Roth, fiction and creative nonfiction; Ryan Trecartin, media arts; and Nami Yamamoto, works on paper.