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Juries, Jurors and Scores of "1" - an option to consider

The jury system is bad - fundamentally flawed.  Each year it is the primary influence on our show year and our careers. Here it is again subject of a blog post.

Posts here and elsewhere bring up the same points.  Our fates are determined by jurors. Bad scenario. Art experts?  I think not.  They may have art backgrounds, they may work in musueums, the may be gallery owners.  They may teach "art".  So what?  Does their background make them qualified to choose?  Are they really "art experts"?  What defines art?  What relevance to defining art (undefinable IMO) have to what people wish to buy?  Does the alleged "art expert" background really serve the purpose of setting a palette of artwork the public wishes to purchase?  To compare: are movie critics correct? Do you care more about what a critic says, or the public says?  Same with books, do you only read a book that a critic gives their blessing to?  Do you only eat at restaurants given two thumbs up by a food critic?  And in the case brought before us here in the blog posts on the Krasl jurors, how can they be "art experts" and one give you a 7, one give you a 1?  Or one a "6" and one a "2"? How does that make any sense whatsoever?  It simply does not. 

And .... in this screwed up system, the voice of the public isn't listened to. You could be the top seller in your medium at a show and short of it being a commission-based show, no one knows that.  No one cares except you and your buyers but that does't mean squat, because the show doesn't care nor do the jurors.  Next year your fate will be determined by what?  Jurors, their biases and the process rather than the art-buying public that came and purchased art.  The "different set of eyes" line is meaningless for the most part ... the concept is flawed. The Krasl Scenario can and likely will happen again next year, and the year after.

So here's a suggestion.  Simplify.  Make the process "Juror Free" (ah, what a concept!  To be used in show advertising!), less biased, less expensive. Heck, maybe jury fees will go down accordingly (yes, and the earth will stop spinning on its axis and war will end ...... right).

Have the show management go through and elimate from each medium those submissions that do not meet the show rules as written in the prospectus.  Remove work that is buy-sell, work that is not creative, copies that of others, displays that are poor and not up to your standards - whatever your rules dictate. But no rating of the artwork.


Then everyone that passes that threshold and is deemed "eligible" is put into a lottery.  Their names in essence put into a "hat" and names drawn until the show spots are filled.  A few more to create a wait-list.  No judging, no rating.  Why would that be bad? Think how that might open doors for artists to be in shows that have never been in?  For the public to see work they have never seen BECAUSE OF jurors, juror biases and the jury process?  No need to "cheat" the system with Photoshop, no need to try and figure out what jurors will look at, mixing black-and-white with color, different subject matter, different color palettes, horizontals and vertical, the concept of "consistent body of work" versus "breadth of the work".  All gone.  You submit what you perceeive to be your best work representing you. Resulting in the scenario that the public that comes may have an opportunity to see and purchase your work that previously jurors and juror biases kept out.  Randomness let you in.  

Option #2 if you don't like that - choose jurors from the art-buying public in the community.  Worst case scenario is they will choose art they want to come purchase.  And that would be bad because .................................. ?

Views: 1806

Comment by Judy Christian on March 15, 2018 at 6:19pm

All good points.

I believe that as long as artists are being juried for shows by those in academics, then the art selected will be what the academics wish to base their reputation. Repeating myself. 

I attended school in the 70's in Washington State, which is where Chuck Close is from. We studied art theory, along with conceptual art. My professor for this class was big on art that was huge in size, such as the large sculptures at the time, and Chuck Close. He told us that Close took a year and went to New York City to live, went to the bars and drank, mixed with the other artists, searching for the next "big" thing. This teacher like to see limits pushed, anything completely unusual and rule breaking. Just art, nothing to do with the public or sales. I only use this as an example, because we don't know what the jurors like/want.  But they probably think more like my ex professor, than us!

If a show wishes to work with the artists who need to make sales, then we need different types of jurors.  Someone who has run a successful gallery that represents several artists would be a good start.  Stores do it, they have buyers, that know their customers and what their customers are looking for. 

I think many of the current jurors are on the lookout for something new, something they have not seen and hoping it may be the next Chuck Close. Someone out of school with about 2-3 years of producing their art, with big new ideas and a minimum amount of skill would probably trump another long standing artist.   Just thoughts.

Comment by Joseph Murray on March 15, 2018 at 8:36pm

     Well said Ron !    No need for me to elaborate at all .   You are expressing what a lot of artists think but many are afraid to express . Sad to say but true . They do not want to be blackballed by shows .   Democracy is supposed to work in America--sadly, it does not with the present jurist systems at many art shows .   

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