Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Columbus Arts Festival Jury Experience

I feel very fortunate to have been able to attend the jury proces for the Columbus (Ohio) Arts 50th Annual Festival.  This festival is a national festival with a high ranking among arts festivals in the United States.  It is celebrating its 50th annniversary.  I have attednded, as a patron, at least 30 of these 50 over the last thirty-three years.  This was the first year that there was an Emerging Artist category for artistist applicants. 

Though I made the first round of jurying, I did not make it into the show during the second/final round of jurying.  I am waitlisted number three out of eight accepted openings.

Getting in or not, it was an invaluable opportunity to be able to see the jury at work and to be able to get some one-to-one feedback from the jurors. 

Personal Feedback
Though the jurors said they admired my drawing skills/talent -- they felt that some of the subject matter and style was not personal, interesting, unique or "expressive" (I add this word as I felt it was implied, if not exactly spoken) to make it stand out and be eligble for a fine arts show of this caliber.  I was advised to draw more of what is in my everyday life instead of hawks or tigers -- overdone subjects, they felt.  Above are my submissions, if I had not submitted "Ruby and Roscoe", the dogs, I would probably have been passed over in the first round -- this was the only work out of the above that the jury found compositionally interesting and personal.  The jurors were very supportive that everyone in the room keep on working and keep on trying.

General Jurying Process and Concerns
The technical aspects of making a photo of the artist`s work and booth were very important and could eliminate an applicant in less than a second.  Three-D objects in particular need to be up close, no white background with good contrast between the object and the background. Also, booth slides were often looked at for the similarity of the display and the work submitted.  There were some concerns intermittently expressed about whether or not reproductions of work should be allowed if they were not shown in the booth slide.
The vast number of slides forced the jurors to work very rapidly.  The average of their scores ranked the applicant in each category.  Often there was little discusstion, just computerized scoring as the projections of the applicants works and booths rapidly passed by on large screens at the front of room.  I did not see the scores, but the accepted applicants were shown to the jurors and audience at the conclusion of the jurying process.

Summary Thoughts
I need to think about what it is I want to say with my art.  If I want to be part of a fine art venue, I may need to narrow my focus more.  I am not sure where I will take this yet, I do know that I do not have the time yet for my art that I want.  I would like to experiment more, but this does not always seem compatible with my needing to make some money and maintain the farm. At this point in my life, the goal is to make art more central to my life.  Doing pet protraits and creating a body of fine art may be two divergent goals.

I did note that there was alot of animal related 2-D work, much of which was accepted into the show.  There seemed to be more animal than people related work.  This seems somewhat surprising and ironic to me.  Nobody that had a wolf in their presentation was accepted -- the animal artists who were accepted mainly had dogs or farm animals.   Also, perhaps not so much of a surprise, more paintings, than drawings seemed to be accepted.  There were some preferences for larger 2-D work -  over 36", it seemed to me, also.

My main problem at the moment is cultivating the time to regularly devote to my art, no matter what my goals or purpose for doing it are.  I thought retiring from my day job would cure this problem, but after a few years, it has raised its head again.  I see my future productive time as consisting of fewer and fewer years.  I believe I need to seriously rearrange/priortize my life in some major ways to devote the time remaining to art in a more meaningful way.  It remains to be seen whether or not I have the courage to change my life and my focus.

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