Portrait Artist Forum    

Go Back   Portrait Artist Forum > Cafe Guerbois Discussions - Moderator: Michele Rushworth

Closed Topic
Topic Tools Display Modes
Old 10-21-2002, 12:27 AM   #1
Lon Haverly Lon Haverly is offline
Juried Member
FT Professional
Lon Haverly's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2002
Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Posts: 698
Justifiable aversion to art shows

I have been a professional artist for thirty years and have never entered an art show. This may explain why.

Our town has what is called a Mayor's Art Show, which is a part of the Eugene Celebration every September. It is the elite art exibit in town at our Performing Arts Center. Kyle Mulligan, as reported in the Register Guard yesterday, is a Eugene artist chagrined that his conventional work has never been chosen. He is an employee at an outdoor advertising company where large billboards are painted on canvas stretched on the large walls. They replaced the plywood, and he cut out a section 4' x 4' where the paint had been sploshed over the edge of the canvas for years. He framed it and signed it Lydia Bentfeather-Brown, and entered it. It was titled "What was wall 34" for the number 34 which had been inadvertently stenciled on it.

It was one of the 51 accepted entries out of 541!! There were reviews issued calling it "suprisingly intriguing", "soft to the eyes", and "an attractive piece". One guest signer said it was the "best of the show".

Kyle has a BA with emphasis on printmaking and drawing from San Francisco State. He said, "Generally, conceptual art is pretentious and effortless, but those who do it glorify it by giving it some deep, meaningful title, putting on airs about the importance of it. I find that so arrogant and pretentious. What I did was a statement against that."

Another entry chosen to be part of the "fabulous 51" was by a formerly refused artist who took a Polaroid close up of his old truck grill. "It took me ten minutes," he said.

The slab of wall was priced at $1750.

I am sure there are art shows somewhere in the country that are worthwhile. But there are none here in the city of Eugene.
Lon Haverly www.lonhaverly.com
Old 10-21-2002, 04:49 AM   #2
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
Juried Member
PT 5+ years
Steven Sweeney's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Stillwater, MN
Posts: 1,792
Stories about these kinds of pranks are legion, and I always wonder where these
Steven Sweeney

"You must be present to win."
Old 10-21-2002, 09:43 AM   #3
Renee Price Renee Price is offline
Associate Member
Renee Price's Avatar
Joined: Mar 2002
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 238
I plan to enter a watercolor done by my 5-year-old son at a particular art show next year. Even though my work was accepted in this show, and there were some nice pieces, one of the "winners" was a painting that looked like it was created by a five year old. I actually laughed at the entry the week before! Maybe before laughing next time, I should learn what "real" art is all about.

Renee Price

(Still reeling about the defecation art in a previous post-- maybe I should enter one of my nephew's poopy diapers... hmmm....)
Old 10-21-2002, 11:12 AM   #4
Timothy C. Tyler Timothy C. Tyler is offline
Timothy C. Tyler's Avatar
Joined: Jan 2002
Location: Siloam Springs, AR
Posts: 911

The trouble with most art shows in my experience is one of 3 things.

1. Use of non-painters to judge paintings

(I'm presently part of an exhibit that was judged by assistant curators which was so badly judged that even the sponsors are sad. It makes the artists not want to do the show next time. The Arts for the Parks is the longest-running, best example of bad judging by non-artists. I saw their "book" yesterday: an overview of 15 years of the nations' best park entries...these works were really sad. I personally know that some of the nation's best landscape painters were juried out of this show.

2. Insider trading

This happens everywhere, no answers for this

3. Too few judges

Shows should have at least 3 judges. Seven would be better (and they should all be practicing experts in the field they judge). Have you ever listened to a cello player discuss the piece he's about to play? Listen to the conductor talk about that same work and you get vague emotional, general statements, often about the composer's childhood.
Old 10-21-2002, 11:22 AM   #5
Michael Fournier Michael Fournier is offline
Associate Member
FT Pro / Illustrator
Michael Fournier's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2001
Location: Agawam, MA
Posts: 264
Send a message via AIM to Michael Fournier
Lon, I must agree with you as far as general art shows go. I don't much care for them. They can have a good impact if local exposure is your goal. But personally I would consider any thing less than awards from national organizations such as ASOPA, PSOA or local affiliates of these organizations which are judged by respected artist in the field of portraiture as meaningless.

I am sure that there are other juried shows that have respected experts (I would prefer that they be respected painters as well) that are equally prestigious but I am referring only to portraiture at the moment.

I have found that it is important that your work is seen. But it must also be seen in the light you would prefer. On the green at the local Craft/Art fair or in a show known for its Jackson Pollock wannabes is not where I want my art to be seen.

There are art shows dedicated to realist artists and you are not limited to your local area. You can be the well known out of town artist.

If the show gets national and even international entries and you are accepted then you are nationally renowned. You see it is kind of silly. The important thing is your work is seen and is received in a positive way with those who attend the show. If the show is mostly known for modern and abstract work then it is really not a show a realist painter would want to even submit to.

This does not mean that all shows are useless or a waste of time. You just need to pick the shows that match your style. And that have a jury that includes artist who's work you respect and that you would consider their approval of your work an honor.

As for your story: why would an artist care if their work was not acccepted in a show known for having mostly abstract art if they are not an abstract artist? Even if they were accepted it would mean little since they do not have much respect for those doing the selection.

I have plans to join the csopa. Although I am not in Connecticut I live very close and there is nothing that says I have to reside in Connecticut to be a member. The same is true for the NY Chapter and if I still lived in Fairfield County CT I might even have joined that chapter as well since NY city is an easy commute from there.

But my point is you are not limited to or by your location of residence when it comes to promotion of your art or in groups or art organizations you would like to be a member of. It is nice to be close to other members of organizations you join for the social aspects. But it is not necessary.

I was a member of the Society of Illustrators in NY for years (started with a student membership). I lived in CT. None of my work was ever acccepted in their annual show even though many of my colleagues and my mentor told me that my work was as good as much of what they had seen of its type.

I acccepted that compared to the hundreds if not thousands of submissions they get every year my work was simply commonplace and did not warrant acceptance in the annual show. I still attended the exhibition and I agreed that the work they did show was the best of the best. Even if I did not personally like every piece or the work of every artist, and some I even hated, I never turned bitter or displayed any resentment.
Michael Fournier
Old 10-21-2002, 08:39 PM   #6
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
Juried Member
PT 5+ years
Steven Sweeney's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Stillwater, MN
Posts: 1,792
Apropos of the judging concerns raised by Michael and Tim, I wonder if there really is any "solution", or whether we're looking for some kind of standard or quantification that is difficult to impose on a range of creative expressions. Sure, it's not difficult for most people to see that anatomical proportions are off or colors garish. But what of the artist who intends out-of-the-ordinary proportions as part of the effect? Is that artist's exclusion from the "cut" unfair? Perhaps -- unless he or she is submitting to PSA or ASOPA, where certain traditional standards are understood by everyone to apply. And isn't it understandable and acceptable that art exhibitions and competitions with their own standards and expectations be able to make the same calls, even if it means having an abstract of questionable pedigree make the cut? Is it even possible to have a "level playing field" in every competition involving artistic judgment?

It pays, I think, to do some homework. A recently announced still-life competition got me pretty excited, because I have a few portfolio pieces that I think are not bad and I feel that I ought to be getting about the business of showing my work. Upon further investigation, I learned that there would be only one judge, and it was David Leffel. I happen to like much of Leffel's work, and I have his instructional videos. But I don't paint in Leffel's style and I know from his comments that he has no interest in and little respect for the highly resolved style in which I usually work, so I just saved myself the entrance fee and postage and cost of producing slides.

Had I submitted my work and lost out to entries in the preferred Leffel style, would that have been unfair? I don't see it that way. Had the judge been a classical realist and had I won, would that have been unfair to the Leffel lookalikes? No.

In a way, having the "right" judges and making the exhibition cuts and winning medals in your own ideological camp seems to me to have its limits in terms of long-term significance. Having someone from another campaign (genre or style) present his sword to you as an acknowledgment of respect -- now THERE'S a worthy prize. And even with a trophy room of medals and swords, each subsequent piece has to stand on its own merits and satisfy the requirements of that next client or editor, who isn't really going to care much, after the initial interview or negotiations, what you've done before.

A writer's magazine with which I used to be involved conducts dozens of contests every year. Winning is a big deal for the winners, though the prize money is a pittance, but the REAL reason for the contests is to get people into the mindset of putting their work out before others, confidently and in a professional manner. After that, there's a bit of a roll of the dice involved, and sometimes you come up sevens and sometimes snake eyes. Doesn't necessarily mean that the rules of the game are unfair, or ridiculous. Just choose your games wisely.
Steven Sweeney

"You must be present to win."
Old 10-21-2002, 11:20 PM   #7
Marvin Mattelson Marvin Mattelson is offline
SOG Member
FT Professional
'04 Merit Award PSA
'04 Best Portfolio PSA
'03 Honors Artists Magazine
'01 Second Prize ASOPA
Perm. Collection- Ntl. Portrait Gallery
Perm. Collection- Met
Leads Workshops
Marvin Mattelson's Avatar
Joined: May 2002
Location: Great Neck, NY
Posts: 1,093
Life isn't fair

When I was an illustrator I was usually well represented in the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition. Each year there was a prize awarded for the best piece created by a SI member. The award was the Hamilton King Award and was awarded by a consensus of the past winners. One year, I was told by a member of that jury, there was a tie in the voting. The jury was torn between two paintings, mine and that of another artist, and neither faction was willing to give in. So they compromised and gave the award to a third illustrator. It still ticks me off to this day.

It is a sad thing when judges are so insecure that they are unable to recognize the merit of other points of view. A piece of art should be judged on how good it is for what it is. Degree of difficulty should be the tiebreaker. Period!

Throughout my career as an artist, I have entered many shows and have been most fortunate to be accepted numerous times and certainly blessed to have garnered more than my fair share awards. I take pride in this because most of the judges have been dogmatically indoctrinated as to the evils of rendering, which I have often been accused of perpetuating. Yet in spite of this they still voted for my work.

If I don
Marvin Mattelson
Old 10-22-2002, 12:02 AM   #8
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline

FT Professional
Michael Georges's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Loveland, CO
Posts: 846
Quite Right...

Ultimately, shows are just that - shows and an opportunity to display and sell our works. That said, I have found as others here have testified, mixed justice in many shows I have entered.

Realism is nearly always the bastard step-child and prizes and money go to the most outrageous artists by judges who were trained the school of "not realism".

That said, this weekend, I took Best of Show and People's Choice at a an art show that values realism in all its forms - God Bless the Science Fiction community. Sci-Fi illustration and fine art is one of the few carriers of realism these days. This little show has been running for 34 years and does about $13,000 in sales from an attendence of less than 1,000 people. No, it's not huge, but it is respectable and it keeps artists interested and helps pay their bills so they keep painting and improving themselves.

Save the realist movement, paint an elf.
Michael Georges
Michael's Life Drawing & Painting Blog

Regular and consistent work from life will improve your portraits.
Drawing skills are the foundation of all an artist does.
Old 10-22-2002, 12:48 AM   #9
Jeremiah White Jeremiah White is offline
Juried Member
Jeremiah White's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 71
Send a message via AIM to Jeremiah White
I entered a painting in a local art center for their atrium gallery and was turned down.

These paintings are some of the ones that made it in. They also have price tags of several thousand dollars. He also rents studio space at the gallery. Coincidence?

Old 10-22-2002, 03:03 AM   #10
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
Juried Member
PT 5+ years
Steven Sweeney's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Stillwater, MN
Posts: 1,792
Save the realist movement, paint an elf
Well, there you go, Michael, a new marketing angle, a bin of bumper stickers:

Get Real, Paint Fantasy
Slay Modernism, Draw Dragons
Broomsticks and Brushstrokes
Just Say "Gnome" to Modern Art!

And so on.
Steven Sweeney

"You must be present to win."
Closed Topic

Currently Active Users Viewing this Topic: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Topic Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


Make a Donation

Support the Forum by making a donation or ordering on Amazon through our search or book links..

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:02 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.