Juried art shows - Gambling?

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Jay Babina wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 10:10 AM

I enter quite a few juried shows and usually I get in but every now and then, I get juried out. I can only assume when this happens, the juror doesn't know what they are doing (a little humor). 

However, I often think that nowhere in society is there a practice like this other than Las Vegas. It should almost be illegal. You pay money to have someone decide if they like your painting or not and if not, you get nothing. It just seems like you should get your money back. What are you actually paying for? Is it not gambling? Several art societies I belong to make lots of money running their annual show because of this. A few prizes to entice artists and the artists are lining up with their money to "possibly" get in the show. 

Over the years I have seen great work juried out of shows because the juror doesn't like seascapes or some other fixation. And, my opinion of what is "great work" is my opinion and perhaps opposite of the juror's opinion. 

You're paying to see if someone likes your work and if they don't you get nothing. Artists seem so desperate to get their work seen that they really don't care about the logic behind this and I am as much a victim as anyone else. But lately it bugs me more and more and I fined non-juried outlets to show my work.

I know that often the jurior is trained and has a reputation but the fact still remains: people who get juried out get nothing for their money.

I'm off the podium for now. I feel better.

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on 10 Dec 2012 12:12 PM

Hi Jay—

I agree with a lot of your thoughts on juried exhibitions. You called it gambling. Most of us entering large juried exhibitions have had similar thoughts.

I don't mind the entry fee so much. For the past few years I have only entered three or four a year. What I do object to is the way large juried shows are juged—by one judge. There should be at least three judges for any important show. Also, during the judging process, the judges should work individually, without communication between one another. No matter how objective a jurist tries to be, the judgement of art is still quite subjective.

All of us have felt the sting of rejection. We grin and bear it because we proud of our thick skins and we know this is the way the system works.

I refuse to enter shows that are to be held in poor locations. Why exhibit work in a place where few poeple will see your work. At least in the past, our local watercolor society has held exhibits in terrible locations. One exhibit was held in a church that was open only a few hours a week. One of the best places I have ever exhibited is the main lobby of the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale. That was not even a society sponsored exhibit. It was part of Mayo's Hunanities in Medicine program.

If an exhibition carries enough prestige and is challenging enough to add to your credentials as an artist, it is worth entering. However, there should be changes in the entry system and the judging process.  There is a lot more to this entire issue that envolves the way judges a lured to exhibits and the resulting useless workshops. I don't even want to get into that. All of these thoughts are personal opinions and I respect everyone's position on this subject.


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