Todd Samara Art Fund Award

Congratulations to the 2023 Todd Samara Art Fund Awardee

Jess Costa is a Kingston-based filmmaker and activist who crafts escapist fantasies that shed light on verboten topics such as addiction and grief in a surrealistic, stylized manner. Her work has been recognized at festivals like Toronto International Shorts and Soho International. Costa leads each project with compassion and self-care, changing the industry one film at a time.

About the Todd Samara Art Fund Award

The Todd Samara Art Fund Award was created by the family and friends of Todd Samara in 2018 to preserve his legacy as an artist. For over 30 years, Todd lived and painted in Kingston’s Rondout neighborhood, translating its hilly streets, tight rows of 19th-century gable-roofed houses, bridges and panoramic river views into poetic visions characterized by simplified, textured forms and rich, glowing color. In 2017 Todd was diagnosed with dementia and placed in long-term care. In deciding how to deal with the hundreds of paintings and drawings Todd left behind, the Samara family arranged for an auction to be held to raise funds that would then be used to benefit other artists in Kingston. The family felt this would be a great way to keep Todd’s presence alive in the community, which played such an important part in his work. The auction was held in November 2018 and raised over $30,000, which has been invested with the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley. The fund is administered by the Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD), and a committee was formed to oversee an annual arts award generated from the fund’s interest. Previous award winners are The Matter Digest (2019), visual artist Patti Gibbons (2020), musician Adriana Tampasis (2021) and photographer Benjamin Eichert (2022). For more information visit

photo of Todd Samara

Photo by Nancy Donskoj

2023 Award Winner
Jess Costa

2022 Award Winner
Ben Eichert

2022 Special Citation
Felix Oliveri
Mixed Media Artist

2021 Award Winner
Adriana Tampasis
Musician, poet, filmmaker

2020 Award Winner
Patti Gibbons
A widely exhibited Kingston artist and art educator.

2019 Award Winner
The Matter Digest
A graphic newsletter keyed to the local community.