Tryon painter Margaret Curtis wins 2021 Joan Mitchell Fellowship

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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The Joan Mitchell Foundation has awarded Tryon-based painter Margaret Curtis a prestigious Joan Mitchell Fellowship, a grant to support artists who have made “important contributions to artistic and cultural discourse deserving of greater recognition on a national level.”

Joan Mitchell was a prominent first generation abstract expressionist painter whose will called for “the creation of a foundation to ‘aid and assist’ working artists and serve as the chief steward of her legacy.” The New York City based Foundation also operates a center in New Orleans.

Curtis was among 166 artists across the country who were nominated to apply for the fellowship, and one of just 15 selected to receive the five-year award. The fellowship combines a financial component, career-building seminars, and other support resources intended to help the winners solidify and build a lifelong, sustainable studio practice.

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“I am so honored! I am over the moon! This is really going to help me expand what I do and reach more people. But more than that, I’m thrilled to be recognized by such an important organization alongside other artists I have long admired. It’s humbling.” Curtis said.

Curtis paints large-scale, narrative paintings that explore power dynamics, both on the interpersonal and the societal level.
She started her career in New York City, where she actively exhibited her work for years. She stopped painting for several years shortly after the birth of the first of her two sons. Curtis and her husband,  Harold Maass, moved to Tryon in 2008, and she started painting again after they started school.

Her paintings have been displayed in numerous western North Carolina galleries and museums, including Tryon’s Upstairs Artspace, where she once served on the board and as chair of the exhibits committee. She is currently represented by Tracey Morgan Gallery in Asheville ( Curtis’ art also can be seen on her website, For more information about the Joan Mitchell Foundation, please visit

Submitted by Margaret Curtis