At last night's reception
After yesterday's blog post was sent, I hustled down to the DAC reception. There were already many people there, including the show juror, Chad Colby. I had a moment to chat with him before the show kicked into high gear. He is a very down-to-earth man, friendly and completely unpretentious. I am sure he is a hugely popular instructor with the students at FLC where he teaches art.
We chatted briefly about the show, and he explained he was looking for a well-rounded representation of work, which I told him he clearly accomplished. He said the jurying process was a fun challenge, and I can imagine how difficult it might have been.
I also had a great time chatting with some artists I have recently met through my volunteer work at DAC, as well as some more of our area's pastelists. I found out more about the Four Corners Plein Air group, and am excited to get together with them for some upcoming paint-outs.
For this show, only 5 awards (not counting the People's Choice award) were handed out: HM, Merit Award, Juror's Choice 2D and 3D, and BoS. So, you can imagine my utter surprise when my name was announced for the Juror's Choice 2D award! Talk about gobsmacked! In addition to the personal accomplishment for me, this also came with a $250 check. Now, I can finally add some more pastels to my collection.
As he promised to do, Chad gave a brief talk about the show and his responsibilities as the juror. Since my experience with shows and even interacting with other professional artists is quite limited, I was very keen to listen to what he had to say. I wanted to share it with readers here, as I think it is valuable advice for all artists, and certainly any who enter juried shows.
-First, he thanked all the artists who entered, regardless of whether their work was accepted. He said their participation was valuable and important to the success of the show, and of course, to DAC.
-He then went on to say that the process of jurying is "human and flawed", just as art is...in other words, he is not perfect, and is doing the best he can. He said at one point he worried that he hadn't selected enough pieces and that the show would look too sparse. In fact, however, it was perfect - just enough breathing room and space for each piece. The show has a very contemporary feel to it as a result.
-He reminded everyone that the juror's opinions are just that: a single subjective opinion, of a moment in time. Nothing more. He apologized for the "ruffled feathers", of which there were [I learned that there are some artists in the community who are very vocal about not getting into these shows...].
He then went on to explain the criteria he used to select the pieces, which I found very enlightening. He said they are essentially the same he uses when evaluating his student's work.
-Originality: for common subjects, like landscapes, how did the artist handle it to make it unique and less ordinary?
-Technical skill and rendering: how well did the artist handle the media?
-A quality he describes as the "play" within a piece. This transcends technical skills and he described it as the playful element in a work. He used the term "serious playfulness", seemingly contradictory, but as he explained further, I realized I knew exactly what he is talking about. It's somewhat intangible, but yet, looking at the pieces in the show, they all have that element as a common thread.
I can think of several artists whose blogs I follow where their work is consistently engaging, compelling, and popular with both peers and collectors, and I realize it is this exact quality that makes it so. Media, painting style, and subject are immaterial.
Anyway, I came away with more than the gift of a $250 check from this show. Chad gave me some valuable things to think about for my work. In addition, he puts the whole jurying process into perspective, and now I will have much more confidence to enter more juried shows in the future, and won't take any rejection as a discouragement (which, let's face it: is easy to have happen if you aren't a seasoned artist).
I really respect the job he did on this show. He said he had no agenda, and I'd have to agree. The process was truly blind: names were taped over and no other identifying information was available to him. As an instructor at the college, he's a bit removed from the non-academic art scene of Durango, and thus, any politics or favoritism. I hope DAC will continue to select jurors like Chad for their shows; not only does it lend more credibility to the show itself, but those who are selected and receive any type of award can feel good that it was honest and well-earned.
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. We are heading up to hike the Purgatory Flats trail, and I'm hoping to come back with a load of photos of green aspen, wildflowers and perhaps some butterflies and dragonflies.