Thus far, 2010 has brought with it a bounty of accomplishment, celebration and reward for Professor of Art Mark Wethli. After topping Portland Phoenix's "Portland's Most Influential of 2010" list for his work at Coleman Burke Gallery in Portland, last week Wethli also came away with a New England Award for Painting, receiving both the critics' pick and people's choice.

Wethli won the award for his solo exhibition of 24 new paintings at Icon Contemporary Art, located on 19 Mason Street in Brunswick. His work was displayed from September 5 to October 3, 2009.

"It was a welcome surprise to get this award, especially since it actually includes two awards—one based on the votes of fellow artists and others who follow contemporary art, and a second award based on the decision of a panel of art journalists from around New England," Wethli said.

The awards were a contest organized by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research to honor the best art made in New England and exhibits organized here in 2009.

The winners, picked by some 1,880 voters from across the region, were announced Monday night at the Burren in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Inspired by "a variety of sources, from ethnographic and contemporary art to personal experience," Wethli's creativity and artistic talent were evident in each of his 24 paintings.

"These paintings were also a direct response to some weathered and discarded table tops, which these are painted on, that I thought would make an interesting dialog with elemental and reductive designs that are reminiscent of signs and semaphores," said Wethli.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research awarded artists in each of several categories, including new media, photography and performance.

The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research put out an open call for nominations in December, to which 80 people responded with submissions. Nominees requested that readers volunteer to choose from the nominations.

According to the press release, this team of six people seconded the nominations, and from these recommendations they put together this year's ballot. Then, for one week in mid-January, they invited artists, art critics and art journalists to vote.

Though Wethli's win is extraordinary, it is not unusual for the College.

Wethli noted that being a faculty member who received "one of many acknowledgments of this kind that every member of the visual arts faculty achieves on a regular basis...adds something to that record of success."

As the recipient of art acknowledged by experts and art-lovers alike, Wethli's accomplishment indicates the faculty's exceptional work.

Wethli also emphasized the fact that Anna Hepler, a professor who taught at Bowdoin until last year, and Lecturer of Art John Bisbee also won awards. Hepler won the award for Best Solo Show for an exhibition of her recent printmaking and installation projects at Monserrat College this past year. Bisbee won in last year's competition for Best Solo Museum Show, for his highly acclaimed exhibition of sculptures comprised entirely of hammered, bent, welded and stacked nails, at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008.

"I feel that we're an unusually strong visual arts program in this regard and I'm proud to be a part of it," Wethli said.