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Old 12-07-2017, 03:03 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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The Politics of Juried Shows

Next to trying to come up with a name for each new piece, the thing that troubles me the most in my art ventures is dealing with Juried Shows. I try to be a good duck and let it roll off my back like the summer rain, but I am still not very adept at dealing with being rejected.

I realize that a juried show is really just a beauty contest most of the time, as are awards within a show, particularly if there is only one judge, and even more so if that judge has bad taste! (bad as in different likes than mine...) Over the decades I have seen kitschy or really poorly crafted and amateur looking work receive best in show, or blue ribbons where vastly superior work (in my "art" opinion as well as technically) gets nothing or is rejected entirely from the show.

There are a few shows that I go to see in person every year and have done so for decades, whether I am in them or not. The percentage of what I perceive as amateur or student looking work that doesn't move me in the least in a positive way, is troubling, particularly when I have seen better work done by others that was rejected. It seems that the smaller the jury the worse it gets. I really don't understand how some work gets accepted or awarded. Are good judges that hard to find? The only "awards" that have any significance to me anymore are Peoples Choice and the little red SOLD dot.

OK rant over, and yes I was rejected - by the only two shows that I really wanted to get in next year. Perhaps I shall drown my sorrows in a kosher pastrami sandwich loaded with melted Swiss cheese, grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms - on a sour dough roll plus a Fecker's Ginger Beer. Sorry if that offends you traditional pastrami folks.

Last edited by contumacious : 12-07-2017 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 03:29 PM
Clotmonet Clotmonet is offline
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

It makes one wonder, are the judges art dealers awarding prizes to their clients? Teachers giving prizes to their students? Rothko nuts?
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Old 12-07-2017, 04:02 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clotmonet
It makes one wonder, are the judges art dealers awarding prizes to their clients? Teachers giving prizes to their students? Rothko nuts?


I haven't kept track of all the judges over the years. The biggest show I enter has the entries juried in by the staff that mans the gallery. The award judging is usually done at that show by a "Nationally Certified Judge" whatever that is. The other one which is at a university, is juried by the faculty. Only one of the faculty members really knows how to paint what I feel are professionally done pieces, which I suppose isn't that critical as far as judging goes, but it might give some inkling as to why so much amateur looking work is so often accepted into the show. As for judging that show, usually it is done by a well established artist either visiting the area or living nearby.

My observations on both shows is that they tend to accept the same people year after year, turning new artists away who might have higher quality work than some of the repeat participants, thus the word "Politics" in the title.

Last edited by contumacious : 12-07-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:39 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

so, i just scrolled through your 1,182 posts and found no paintings
how am i to judge you if i can't see your work?
[kidding, i don't 'judge'].

can't he'p ya with juries, i've been showing for like 20 years and have yet to subject myself to their dictatorships [it's just not been necessary in order to show].

la
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:40 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

There used to be a juried show that had three judges. Two votes out of three meant you were automatically in. BUT each judge was permitted a small number of choices that got in on ONE vote. The judge was named so you knew who voted you in. As far as I can see this is a good system. There was always at least one working artist in the mix among art curators, etc. You could kind of figure out who chose your work and why. The selection process wasn't so mysterious. Well, not so many juried shows around here anymore.
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Old 12-07-2017, 05:57 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

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Originally Posted by bleu
There used to be a juried show that had three judges. Two votes out of three meant you were automatically in. BUT each judge was permitted a small number of choices that got in on ONE vote. The judge was named so you knew who voted you in. As far as I can see this is a good system. There was always at least one working artist in the mix among art curators, etc. You could kind of figure out who chose your work and why. The selection process wasn't so mysterious. Well, not so many juried shows around here anymore.


That sounds like a pretty fair system to me. I don't do many juried shows, 3 max per year so far, selling mostly in galleries and non juried venues, but I have my eye on a gallery that will not even talk to you until you have placed fairly high in at least one national competition that has some weight to it, so that is my motivation to subject myself to the fun of being juried out.

----------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
I've been showing for like 20 years and have yet to subject myself to their dictatorships [it's just not been necessary in order to show].

la

I do enter quite a few shows that don't have juried entries. I do feel like the overall quality of the work is higher in the juried shows I have seen. One last year had almost 1,000 entries that had to be physically delivered to the gallery to be juried. They rejected over 75% of them. There was maybe 5% of them that I didn't feel were professional level work vs 25-50% in most of the non juried shows I have participated in.

As stated above my goal for the shows isn't to sell something or to just be showing, but rather as a means to an end, getting in a particular gallery.

Last edited by contumacious : 12-07-2017 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:55 PM
olive.oyl olive.oyl is offline
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Here’s some .02 and that’s all it’s worth.

I been in juried shows, was a juror myself once, and worked on an exhibition committee helping to set up juried shows. It’s probably best to keep the broadest perspective on this and to not take things personally. If we do, we’ll get all grumbly and bitter and fall into the mindset that starts to think we’re entitled and everybody else is a moron, or the system is rigged, or whatever we need to tell ourselves to soothe our delicate egos.

Everyone gets rejected. Not everybody is going to like our work. Some jurors know what they’re doing and some don’t. Maybe there are “politics” involved (however you mean to define that) but usually, I’d say it’s an honest, good faith attempt to bring “deserving” artists into the public eye. And yes, because they’re the jurors, they get to decide who’s deserving. They are the judgey judges. They might choose an artist based on a simple feeling that, “this is what I happen to like.” Or…they might decide they need X number of artists to fill up the space nicely, or certain sizes. Or a variety of styles, or a consistency of styles. If the show has a theme, they would easily eliminate those who are good and deserving, because they just don’t fit into the theme. That’s certainly a valid criteria to be judged on so if your work doesn’t fit the theme, DON’T enter because it WILL be a waste of time and money. Remember too, that they want to put a good show together and hope to draw attention to their organization, or to the space, or the community or whatever so they choose with THEIR goals in mind, not ours.

I would also suggest doing research to find sources that advertise Calls to Artists. You can stick to local venues or if you don’t mind shipping costs or the travel, look for out-of-state calls as well. Like here, we have a regional magazine called Art New England where there are listings in the classified section, or the state cultural council has an online blog called ArtSakes. I have others and they’re all bookmarked and on occasion, I’ll scan them to see if anybody is calling ME, so to speak. And usually…they’re not! But if I do happen to find something that looks like a possibility, I’ll first check out the venue, online. I’ll try to find pictures, read reviews, look at past shows, look at the neighborhood. And then I’ll research whatever I can about the juror’s qualifications and backgrounds. See? Now I’m being the judgey judge and will decide which shows are worthy of ME. Maybe it’s a little like dating…sometimes you find a good match, sometimes not. Sometimes, you shoot for "the prize," and other times it's just another notch on your (resume) belt. Sometimes you’re just not good enough for them, or they want somebody that’s just not the likes of you. Sometimes though, you wouldn’t be caught dead being seen with the likes of THEM, either. So just move on and try again later. Or not.
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Old 12-08-2017, 01:41 AM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Quote:
Originally Posted by La_
so, i just scrolled through your 1,182 posts and found no paintings

I did the same in order to see your painting style.
You have every right of course not to want to show samples of your work here or elsewhere, in order to avoid perhaps critiques ( with a constructive manner) or criticism, ( in a not so constructive manner).
But if that is the reason you avoid to show your work, why do you join competitions, where you are going to be judged by default?
As for the jurors attitudes and decisions.. there is no way to know in advance what each and any one of them is thinking, expecting or wants for the competition. There are more chances to be rejected than to be accepted, especially on large competitions where there are hundreds of participations.
If you can't bear these high chances to be rejected, then I would suggest to avoid joining such competitions, in order not to spoil your mood first and foremost. I mean that if something is unbearable for you, that's it.. there is no point to torture your self.
Art is in the eyes of the beholder ( the viewers). Their opinions are subjective and as such include a lot of rejection.
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Old 12-08-2017, 11:56 AM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. Feel free to keep commenting but I probably won't be revisiting this thread with any comments or replies. The Pastrami Sandwich worked!
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Old 12-08-2017, 01:42 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

That was an excellent post Olive.oyl!
I have been invited to show in several galleries by the curators. I went to a noon series lecture at one of the galleries, and the curator (also an artist), was speaking about how they curate there. The things he stressed are exactly what you mention in your post. Theme/ space/ how all the work will come together...in that gallery’s space, and how to best show the works. No sticking out sore thumbs that don’t ”fit”. It was a sensible eye opener. Much more basic than “ they don’t like my work”. He said he has turned down incredible work because of this, but suggests they would be good for a different show...theme, and allowing for space and fit.
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Old 12-08-2017, 07:14 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Any artist that has their own show knows that they are expected to create a cohesive body of work. From what I have just read it sounds like the jurors are looking for exactly the same.

This can only mean that it rules out a lot of extremely good work simply because it doesn't fit in with their vision, their main concern being a visually appealing body of work, all from different artists!

I can now see why people get disappointed, it doesn't seem fair somehow.
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Old 12-08-2017, 09:17 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

I enter many juried, art competitions in my area. I've decided that the only real, "politics" involved in judges' decisions of judging art is when the judge is a friend of one [or more] of the competitiors.

Usually, when that is the case, the artist who is a friend of the judge either receives a major award, or is cast by the wayside, in order not to show "favoritism" by the judge. I've actually had occasions to witness both of these conditions, and to be affected by both.

For competitions, I am most pleased when the judge does not know ANYONE whose art is represented in the show.

Now, it is often mentioned that one "cannot paint for a judge". That may be true, in general, when considering one, specific "judge". However, one most certainly can engineer their work to appeal to "judges, as a group"!!!

I've received "Best of Show" for one of the most simple, small (11" x 14") paintings you could ever imagine, and from a judge who didn't know any artist in the show. The only "secret" is that judges seem to be impressed by paintings that are "unusual", or that truly "stand out" from all the other art that is present in the room.

I live in Arizona, and whenever there is an art competition in terms of a "show", there are dozens of Arizona landscapes, cowboys on horses, flowers., cacti, lizards, coyotes, etc., etc. One year, I painted a simple, impressionistic painting of a night scene in downtown New York, on a little, 11" x 14" canvas, and received the top two awards in the show.

Yes, you can paint for a judge, provided that you make that judge say, "Wow", as a first impression when viewing your painting.! :lol

The only "politics" involved in judging is when the judge is close friends with some of the contestants. And, when that occurs, it could either be manifested with major awards going the the friends, or......no awards, at all.
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Old 12-09-2017, 01:02 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

I had to judge an art competition once, so that gave me a better glimpse into the mind of jurors. The theme was on my favorite subject, cats, so I was a natural expert for that particular one. The entries were spectacular. I wound up with a huge short list and had to go nit picking for really fussy technicalities in order to even narrow it down. It didn't help that a good half of the entries were from friends or at least artists I knew. But that didn't affect me as much as the paintings themselves.

Some of the ones I rejected were museum worthy as paintings. in the end the final winner got decided on which of two entries' technicalities was more noticeable. Oddly enough, none of the paintings were perfect. I could not award the top spot to the artist who got the most accurate cat anatomy and features, because no one was spot on perfect on all of those. The winner had a minor proportion flaw that was so subtle I didn't see it till the fourth time I studied the painting, and even then it was something really minor - it was very obscured by placement and softness as opposed to a hard edged contrasty area near the focal point. I loved all of them. There were no bad entries. But it's very hard to narrow the field.

When there's thousands of entries it'd get proportionally harder. Also a piece that looks amateurish or obviously in error might have nuances the juror interpreted differently. There are some styles that I think of as looking primitive and it's sometimes hard to tell if the artist did that on purpose to create a mood or style, or if that was an actual mistake.

Personal taste does come into it, but it's only one filter and there's usually a whole host of other factors. That comes in with an honest judge at the point there's nothing else to choose on. I didn't take into account who was my friend or not, and that short list had several friends on it anyway. I just gave it to the one that by a tuft of hair was the best painting.

I haven't actually entered juried shows, because of the fee. It's just that. I know how much work goes into it and how slim anyone's chances are, then I look at my miniscule budget and buy art supplies. But if I wasn't retired I'd put it down as a business expense and enter them, on the chance that maybe my work would stand up well. I do enter some contests that are free.
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:50 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

Quote:
When there's thousands of entries it'd get proportionally harder. Also a piece that looks amateurish or obviously in error might have nuances the juror interpreted differently. There are some styles that I think of as looking primitive and it's sometimes hard to tell if the artist did that on purpose to create a mood or style, or if that was an actual mistake.

Yes, I wonder just how a judge deals with that factor of not knowing whether some error in drawing, or perspective was created by mistake, or on purpose. Those naive', primitive-type paintings don't interest me very much, but I've seen some win awards, and sell. I don't know how fair I would be in judging such work.
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Old 12-10-2017, 07:26 PM
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Re: The Politics of Juried Shows

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Originally Posted by WFMartin
Yes, I wonder just how a judge deals with that factor of not knowing whether some error in drawing, or perspective was created by mistake, or on purpose. Those naive', primitive-type paintings don't interest me very much, but I've seen some win awards, and sell. I don't know how fair I would be in judging such work.

I know an artist whose work looks like drawings done by children -- it's good work in my view. She gets into juried shows and even has shown in a known gallery. In one juried show she entered, I learned that the juror had asked the organizer to confirm that she was NOT a child. The juror liked the piece If an adult was the artist. She didn't want to risk ridicule for choosing a child's work.
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