Last month, i took 3 paintings to a jury for the Hyde Park Art show in Cincinnati, Ohio. I chose paintings that were similar in theme which I considered to be strong work.
The judging was held in a community center in the neighborhood where the show was to be held. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but i was surpised to see over 100 artists waiting in line with a number.
One judge was assigned for each category, painting, crafts, sculpture, photography, etc. The judge for painting was a young woman, possibly younger than me.
While in line, I watched her body language while reviewing the other artist’s work. She was animated, and having some intense dialogue with the artists. I noticed that when an artist brought work that I considered to be exceptionally well done, the judge would pick up her clipboard and make notes after the artist leaves. She did not do this after reviewing what I considered to be a weak body of work.
The Hyde Park Show is a very prestigious show in Cincinnati. It has a reputation for excellence, so all the best collectors and dealers attend and purchase. This makes the show very desirable for any artist in the region. Getting into this show is very important for my plan as an artist. I was at wits end when my number was finally called for judging.
While my work was being reviewed, I had no idea what kind of questions the judge would ask. Ideally, she would comment on how good the work was, and tell me that she definately wanted me in the show. That didn’t exactly happen. Instead, she started critiquing my work. She suggested that I show how my paintings of farm animals interact with my life. She also warned that I might be at risk of producing gimmicky work. Finally, she added that she did not think that contemporary artists should sign the front of their work. It takes away from the art. You should sign either the matting or the back of the work.
I left the building with a sinking feeling in my gut. The judge did say nice things about my work also, but the negative things just stuck in my mind. It looked like in the corner of my eye, I saw her pick up her pen and clipboard…but maybe it was just to scratch her nose. I know that juries are very subjective, and not to take these things personal. It took a while to shake it of, after talking with a few friends who are successful artists. Experiences like this are common in the business. It was reassuring to hear that I am not the only one going through this process.
It turns out she was writing my name on the clipboard after all! I just received my letter of acceptance into the Hyde Park Art Show. Of course, you are all invited to attend. It will be October 1st, 2006 in Hyde Park Square.
I would be interested to hear what you think about this story. I know that everyone goes through this…especially artists who put a very personal type of work on display. I sure hope it gets easier…but it hasn’t yet!