Monday, July 5, 2010

Hunting to win???

Hunting to win...what does that mean?  Just something to get you to read this blog about entering competitions or not to enter competitions and jurying of art and such stuff.
I am competitive.  I like to win.  I like to do things well enough to win.   Seems like that has always been that way.
As a kid, my family raised horses and cattle in central Montana.  At a pretty early age, I got introduced to competitions such as horse shows and rodeos.  My first horse show had my Mom fixing me up so I looked presentable - that meant your hair combed and braided, shirt tucked in your Wranglers, your pant legs over the tops of  your boots and wearing a hat.  Some of this just made a kid itchy, but I did it and rode my gray horse into the area for the western pleasure class.  My mom had coached me to the etiquette of the event and I figured I was doing everything great.  The ring steward for the events was a family friend, Owen, and with each loop around the arena he encouraged.  I figured I must be doing great!  then they lined the riders up and the judge walked up and down the line of riders (all under the age of 12; I am 6) and motioned for six riders to move forward.  I wasn't one of them!  What???  (My mom always told the story with great animation).  I stand up in my stirrups and holler "Hey!! Where do I come in at???"  Owen happened to be standing near me and walked up and calmly reached in his pocket and gave me a silver dollar.  WHOA!!!  I hit the pay!  No one, even with their trophies and ribbons was a bigger winner than I was that day!   Then I became an artist and entered some juried shows...Whoa!   Sometimes you get accepted and sometimes you don't.  I have participated in a variety of competitions from horse shows to rodeos to trap shooting and did a fair share of winning; same with juried shows.  So this is my theory on juried shows...
I like to enter shows.  I opt for a piece or pieces that I think are of good quality and maybe have a little edge on composition and interest; a piece that "speaks" to me.  Once you do all the required things for submitting the entry you wait to hear...One thing of importance and this is speaking from working in an art center on the gallery committee and hanging what is asked in the guidelines - from the image submission to the hanger for the art.  So then you wait and finally you get the notice - your piece is accepted.  that's great!  If it wasn't accepted...why?  I think the first thing one needs to consider is that the if you have submitted a great quality painting and it didn't get into the show it 1) did not catch the eye and the like of the juror 2) it didn't fit what the juror was trying to say with his/her selection.  One is not going to get every painting into every show.  Maybe that juror was really partial to figurative painting, realistic and you  paint abstract form...I usually check who the juror is and see what they do in their own world.  I have passed up a few competitions just because I didn't think my work would jury well and since there is a fee for jury's being somewhat sensible, I think.  So if a piece is rejected, it may just mean it didn't fit the bill for that show. 
I have a friend who does watercolors and does them well.  She had tried for years to achieve signature status with her state's watercolor society and could never get a piece to make that happen.  Just one of those things that you can sit around and talk about over coffee.  So, you don't get accepted; not a reason for sorrow.  Enter another show.  When you do have a piece accepted, you're happy and that is great...THEN if you get lucky enough to have really got the juror's attention and they award you with one of the prizes for the show that's the ICING ON THE CAKE!!
I have entered the same piece in different shows;  winning the best of show at one; an honorable mention at another and not making the juror's cut in another.  So what's it all mean...the jurying process is an opinion of one person.  Not being accepted or not winning a prize is not the end of the world or reason to feel rejection.
Recently someone said they would not want to physically go to a show that they had a piece accepted in and be there when the juror announces the winners and then not be one of the winners.  WHAT??? Be proud that you had a piece accepted; go and enjoy the other art and study what won!  You might learn something...and it might be just that your style wasn't what the juror picked for winning pieces.  Sometimes just being there is (should be) enough!  And there are jurors that I have heard say and then choose work for shock factor...that's sad, I think.  But just like the juror's are but one opinion; these are my takes on entering shows.  I enter because I like to see if my work will be accepted and just to get accepted into some of the higher end shows is really enough.  Think I have learned some humility over the past 50 years!!!  Where do I come in at?  Just glad to be here!
keep painting...

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