Beached Bum, 8x10,
Recently, I had the rather humbling honor of jurying and judging a well-respected, 86-year old, exhibition -- The Hoosier Salon Annual Exhibition in Indianapolis. There were 3 of us on the panel, so I cannot take total credit nor total responsibility for the decisions made. [Whew!] The exhibit opens next week, and I am so proud, if that is the right word, to be a part of such an incredible tradition as this organization.
Toward the end of the jurying process, I began to feel sick at my stomach, thinking about my entries to the American Impressionist Society National Juried Exhibition. I wanted very badly to retrieve my entries and run and hide, knowing with what scrutiny they were being examined. It isn't like there is any better work I could have entered, obviously, or I would have. It is just that I was understanding first hand the other side of the coin. With almost 600 entries (both 2-D and 3-D) for the Hoosier Salon, and only space for 150, the task was amazingly difficult. The works were all so worthy of recognition. I enjoyed them all. The high caliber of work is a testament to this amazing organization. Our last job was to assign approximately 20 awards. Even that was not easy.
After we were finished, we had a chance to meet the Board and tell them some of our process. Naturally, we looked at each work's academic strengths, but we also looked to see if we could recognize "the artist" in each piece. Was there passion, personality, individuality, a sense of enthusiasm? Did my work I submitted to AIS have those things? [More feeling sick and humble.]
As we left, we were each given catalogs from the past few years' exhibits. What I found, looking through those pages, was that the artists who had been accepted in previous years, fell into one of two camps: those whose work submitted for this current exhibit was fresh and new; and those who seemingly submitted basically the exact same thing year after year because it was "safe" and "good." The first group of artists will undoubtedly, if they are not already, be not only great artists, but satisfied artists. The second group may win a few awards, but run a great risk of complacency and burn out.
To everyone who entered, whether or not they made it into the exhibit, I send you congratulations for having the guts to try. I would like to share here my final paragraph written to the Board in conclusion to the process. This comes after listing the academic strengths a good work must have: strong composition, use of design, success of the artist’s intention, weight, shape, line, texture, and finally, in the case of paintings, color, and edges.
"...I would like to add, that no matter how well rendered or full of technique a piece of art is, if it does not have all of these strengths, it cannot be labeled a winner. It is a struggle to most of us to put it all together. But I would say to everyone who entered, and particularly to those who were chosen to exhibit, that the struggle is the reason for the doing. Do not become complacent, or your work will become predictable and mundane. Always continue to push yourself, and find joy in your growth."
Also, thank you to the jurors for this year's AIS. I am extraordinarily grateful to have had a little plein air piece (above) chosen as one of the 100 works in the exhibit. With 1000 entries, no doubt your job was extremely tough!
NOTE: I have had a few more books submitted by readers for inclusion in my list of suggested reading. Here are this week's books of interest: