I had the pleasure of participating in the Mock Jury offered.

Although my intention was to attend in person, unfortunately I was not able to. Instead, I was able to attend via a Remote sharing Citrix system using GoToMeeting.

The event was run EXCELLENTLY.

Here is the setup, to the best of my knowledge:

* They gave our “application submissions” to the jurors and directors about a week ahead of time.

* Two jurors, Director & assistant director, support staff

* Projected images about 2' x 3'

* We were allowed to submit questions with our applications.

* Live attendees

* Remote attendees with live access via GoToMeeting and telephone.

* Artist statement read.

* Individual piece statements, size & prices not read or shown to jurors

* Blind Jury

Each Juror took great effort to give constructive criticism on all aspects of each submission. Open discussion was encouraged. If attendees were present they could speak up, even if it was not their work. Remote attendees could type in comments / questions to everyone, just to select people or to the staff. Diligent support staff constantly responded to our input either via typed replies, alerting jurors / directors / organizers. They even went so far as to ask us to telephone in during the event to speak with us.

Able to ascertain some inconsistencies in juror decisions. Noted comments showing situations of juror recognizing a particular artist.

Sometimes they did not like a particular type of piece or setup due to personal taste instead of a measurement of quality, talent, technique, proficiency, originality, creativity etc. An example might be a statement of just not liking a particular color.

This was enlightening as the juror freely stated this was just their own personal preference not an unbiased judgment. A reminder that we all are human, have our own notions and none are immune from influence of personal taste (including jurors).

Sometimes a demerit might be attributed to pieces not all being cohesive Example:

A) Three colored photos with one B&W. & Booth shot shows mostly colored images with about 25% B&W and the other photos are all color

B) All images are in color. Booth shot is proportioned as aforementioned.

In “A” above juror complaint: the images were not cohesive due to the B&W not fitting in with the Colored, that a colored image should be there. Therefore all the images should be colored.

In “B” above complaint the images were not a proper representation due to only colored images presented which is not a proportional representation of the B&W to color ratio in Booth shot.

Demerit given in a booth shot for having tan colored walls due to the juror not liking that color. I would like to believe that the inconsistencies were just efforts to be critical not a representation of variable standards a normal jury would use.

At times demerits for juror not understanding what a piece was... if they had the ability to read the written statement that would help but might not always be able to.

Quality of booth shot is important as sometimes it is the deciding factor.

Some pieces were discussed for what seemed like 10 minutes or more while others went through in 2 minutes. Perhaps this mimics the idea of getting into further rounds VS elimination 

A lot of discussion on the order of images. With Zapp and other application systems artists can view as a juror and alter image order. Important to do.

Originality very important. When a piece came up that seemed very nicely done but the juror had seen that concept or similar piece prior, it was diminished.

Showing diversity between images, in style, subject matter, techniques etc. can be bad choice as Cohesion might not be represented or understood. 

Not all booth shots need to show all walls of tent / booth.

With jewelry size and type information is important.

Careful not to use an indoor booth shot for an outdoor submission.

Regardless of quality etc, if the subject matter is not appropriate or very sell-able for that particular show it will get rejected.

Rejection if booth looked like a “store”.

Leave walk room in booth, don't crowd.

With signed artwork, remember to edit that out in jury submissions.

With hanging pieces (mostly 2D) forget lining up tops and bottoms... focus on sight lines.

Those that had a booth shot that realistically showed how they would set up at a show ie. Bins, chair etc, were criticized... these things are expected and not need to be seen in submitted booth shot.

The strong criticism is NOT a complaint nor bad. The jurors were deliberately doing so in order to aid us. At times digging hard to look for faults in order to help us improve. Picking apart if possible. If memory serves me correctly, there was one entry. The first one, that whisked through as excellent and unscathed.

There was one later but that is all I recall as unsinkable.

These kind people took much time on each submission. Even if it was a minute that may have been almost ten times as long as a real jury might take in the first round.

The entire group worked tirelessly for us. We paid a very small fee to be in this event.

They started at 9:00am. Stopped for 40 minutes for lunch then continued until about 8:30pm.

WOW ! What a great effort. They worked hard to help us out. We could see the work, hear all the comments, read comments. In addition they will be emailing us recordings / transcripts and notes of the session. As well they offer us the ability to call or email to them and they will further discuss with us.

We may complain about how little jury time is spent. It was brought up that they jury for the Saint Louis Art Fair for about 30 hours. However the show itself is only 20 hours long.

I wish there were more of these offered. In more geographic locations. I would love to participate in many more.

This is just a sampling of what I was able to take away from this event.

Now to try and apply what I can from this fine experience.

Thank you to Laura Miller, Cindy Lerick, Kim and the rest of the staff for giving us this opportunity.

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  • Diversity within the creativeness of our entire scope of work will most certainly be in conflict with trying to show cohesiveness within a limit of four jury photos. That cohesiveness we use for jury submissions will only show a small portion of what we have created and designed over the lifetime of we pour our heart and soul into.

    This might be fine for a person that has a style that never changes over time... and for some the same-old-same-old works well.... However ongoing ideas, thoughts and creations we have will keep our creative juices flowing, and thus help us grow and evolve in our work. and yet still look cohesive for a jury. We have new designs and previous creations we are proud of and display for sale in our booth.

    • "...trying to show cohesiveness within a limit of four jury photos..." This may be exasperated when we consider the 4 images must be a representation of the total body of work in the booth.
      In your medium of beautiful woodworking, what if you showed 3 pieces that were squared or had right angles and one that was spherical? Would that be judged non-cohesive? The first impression may be the geometric first impression. However perhaps they were all very cohesive in some other way that took more than 10 seconds to realize. Maybe they are all from Bolivian Rosewood? Cohesive in view... perhaps but if some are turned on a lathe and others carved? Cohesive is an interpretation in this field.
      If I were to describe a person in a lung machine and then, separately, someone playing with smoke. Would some find cohesion in that? Yet a great photographer did just that. He shot a view of someone in that lung machine, through the round portal window. Then shot the world champion smoke ring blower from the perspective through one of the rings. He achieved cohesion in view as they looked a bit similar. Once someone read the description it came together wonderfully. I believe, had those images been exposed to some jury process for 7 seconds, they might fail cohesion test. Yet it was true art.
      We do grow over time. If a jurist finds the stamen on a plant to share cohesion with the steareocilia in a human ear due to quick appearance, does that equate to a fluid body of work? Do they belong together?
      Photo A) A sun bleached seashell laying on the sand.
      Photo B) An old withered person laying on a bed.
      How many on a jury would see cohesive in 7 seconds?
      Yet they might share far more cohesive meaning. A strong meaning between the two but without the words is it understood.

      We do not develop over time with just technique. We also evolve into deeper thinking artists. We see more, delve further and grow in ways that may not be understood in 7 seconds.
      I hope my work is never so shallow that all can be gathered in such a brief time.

      Think of this: You worked countless hours, put your heart into a piece. It has so much meaning. A customer comes in. Glances at it for 7 seconds and walks away. Do you think they understood the piece? Did they give it a chance? Did they give themselves a chance?

  • Larry, Thank you for posting this.  This whole notion of cohesiveness continues to perplex me.  Perhaps 15% of our images are B&W.  To us these images were more compelling in B&W than color.  We now have a few that are primarily B&W with some elements in color.  So, if we submit only color images for jury and we show some B&W at the show are we open to criticism that we did not submit representative images? If we submit a B&W image with some color images now we are not cohesive.  It seems like this posture is limiting creativity.  The same is true for subject matter.  We have a collection of images from abandoned churches.  We usually use two of these for jury submissions along with some industrial and urban shots. So the varying subject matter renders us non cohesive yet abandoned church images do not appeal to everyone and showing only those guarantees a bad sales show in most cases. Yikes!

    • I'm thinking the churches with the industrial may pass as cohesive, as they may categorize all as "architectural". However if one image is a fox and another is a soldier they would not be seen as cohesive. Now a concern arises for what if that image of the fox was him stalking a rabbit while the soldier is tracking an enemy? Now with the artist, we do have cohesion. Both creatures / hunting, praying on a target. With the limited time and the perspective of the Juror's background will they understand this cohesiveness?
      We are told to make our booth as a gallery for viewing. However in a gallery the customer has plenty of time to study the images and gather these ideas. There is time for the art to convey ideas. Often the artist may be there or someone in the gallery who can speak with them about these images.
      When we display at fine art shows, we are present to speak with the customers and they have plenty of time to study and gather the ideas from our works.
      This alone creates a diametrically opposed function between the jury process as a guide to the actual gallery / show setup.
      Although we live in a society of instant gratification my art as well as most others is meant to be studied and seen for a long. Of time. I would hope that people who see my art do not find all the complexities in it, in seven seconds and be done.
      This is not to fault the jurors as they have a lot to do and very little time to do it in. Perhaps it does point out a percieved flaw in the system and with attention to said flaw a workaround might be achieved.
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