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Caroline Henry Art Blog

On Juried Shows

by Caroline , February 6, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: art events, art organization, judging, shows

The east gate of Woodbridge Winery was not very active on the wintry weekday when I created this pastel. It will be very busy, however, on the weekend of March 15 and 16 , the Lodi Community Art Center's 48th Spring Art Annual at Woodbridge Winery in Acampo, California. In the decade or so I've been with the group, I've been involved with the show at various levels--entries chairman, show chairman, other committees, and now treasurer. Staging a juried show which draws artists from the coast, mountains, and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley of northern California is a great deal of work, but also a rewarding experience.

I've learned a great deal from the process. We have three judges who privately assign numbers to the paintings as they are carried before them. These numbers eventually determine which 200 to 250 are juried into the show. Lesson 1: Many are called but few are chosen. Some fine pieces won't make the numbers' cut. Also while a viewer may gradually grow to love a piece seen in a gallery, for show competition instant impact is essential.

The three judges then judge the high point pieces for the awards. If those working the show are quiet they can listen in on the discussions. Lesson: the good composition, control of value, technical skill, will weigh heavily; creativity needs to do its homework.

Some items never make it past the entry tables (we are still taking "live" entries). Lessons: Read the rules closely. Call with questions if you are not sure. Some mistakes are clearly beginner errors--such as bringing a pastel on canvas and not under glass, wrapped canvas not painted around, wet canvases, or wire attached with thumb tacks. However, experienced professionals sometimes forget to check the rules. We had to send away a magnificent watercolor a couple of years ago because it was oversized and under glass rather than light weight acrylic. A photographer who wound up taking away awards first had to to away and wire works that had sawtooth hangers instead.

Another important lesson--kindness is always good. Be prepared to tell artists where in the community they can find the plastics to replace that heavy glass on a large piece or the broken glass on a small one, and have pliers, cutters, wire, and screwdrivers on hand for people who need last minute repairs. Most of all, be good to the artist who in a first time entrant and had no works in the show, share tales of the competition circuit, and assure them that not being in the show is a disappointment but not a failure.. The best artists sometimes have "not showns", keep learning and trying, and know that everyone to makes the effort helps to assure that we all have wonderful art shows to enjoy.

Last lesson--by the end of each year's show, our art group feels exhausted but strengthened as an organization. If you are in the region described here and want show information, go to



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