Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jurying Art

As I said a few days ago, yesterday I was scheduled to help jury the artwork submitted by artist applicants who want to join the Santa Barbara Art Association.

Each applicant has to submit five ready-to-hang artworks (there are different requirements for sculptors and jewelry makers - though none applied yesterday). The artwork is stacked one in front of another for each artist, in rows against the wall of a large room. Each artist is identified by only a number.

There are three judges - two from outside of the association, and a Past President (this time me). One judge was the owner of a local gallery. The other an art instructor at a local University campus. All are unknown to the applicants.
I have helped with these affairs many times over the years. But this was the first time that I had been a judge.

Each judge was given a clipboard with horizontal columns identified with the numbers corresponding to the stacks of artwork around the room. Also, we were each assigned three assistants. Two hold up the artwork, and the other makes notes of the reasons that the judge may reject the art.

This step is new, and seems to me to be a good idea. Only a small number of artists are successful, and these notes are helpful in councelling the rejected candidates as to how they might improve their chances if they try again. (It took me five times to get accepted, many years ago.)

The judges operate seperatly. We start at different points around the room. My assistants held up the paintings of each applicant so that I may view them all at the same time. For each candidate, I have to decide yes or no for acceptance. Later the results are tabulated for all three judges. Two or more yeses and the candidate is in. Two or more noes and they are rejected.

The applicants have been able to read guidelines that are available online at the Association's website and as a printed leaflet for pick up at the Association's nearby Gallery 113. The guidelines emphasize the need for consistency in the submitted paintings.

The judges want to see repeatability, not how diversified the applicant's skills maybe. I always tell candidates that their work should like a set - similar framing, matting, and style.

A lack of consistency was the biggest problem. One or two paintings may be similar, and then the rest would be wayout - different framing, different styles, and so on. Other common problems were lack of drawing skills, sloppy framing, lack of hanging means, sometimes the work was not even mounted.

When the judge's decisions were compared it was surprising how much we agreed. Three noes or three yeses were common. Thirty-five applied and eleven were accepted. This is a low number of applicants. There were eighty-five submissions one time when I was President. The one third accepted is about usual, or even high.

An interesting afternoon. The rejected candiadates may try again in six months. The next time will be in March 2008.

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