A must read story of artist empowerment.

The show known as John Michael Kohler, Midsummer Festival of the arts:  http://www.jmkac.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=57

has been telling people that they have to submit 4 new images if they have applied previously. There was apparently no notice of this where artists would know of this requirement.  I received several calls from artists asking me to change up their ZAPP images.  Then yesterday I had enough of this.  I certainly have a business where I photograph artists artworks and you might think that I would approve of this policy. But my first instinct is to protect artists from unfair policy.  And this was very unfair.  Deb Radke called me in a panic not knowing what to do. She didn't want to spend money for a whole new photo shoot.  I suggested she call and explain in "no uncertain terms" how much it would cost to shoot a whole new body of work and also tell the show director that others she knows of are not applying due to this extreme policy of all new images.  The show director claimed ignorance that all artists didn't just take their own "snapshots" of their work.  She claimed that the jurors directed her to ask for all new images.  Can anyone say..."the cart leading the horse."  Today Deb received a call telling her that the committee agreed on only 2 new images.  Still in my consideration too much but it is movement.  Today they added the requirement on their ZAPP application page.  We do have power as a group and this should never be forgotten.

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  • Are the jurors changing year to year. If not, then jurors carry their biases forward and new work might not do it if it's in a similar style they think they recognize. But if the jurors are changing year to year, what year the work was created shouldn't matter.

    Larry Berman

  • This year the Arts Center added a policy that new images be submitted for review each year.  The policy was actually developed to assist artists in the jury process.  We found that quality artists whose work had been seen in person by staff were not making it through the jury process—quite often because of outdated work samples.  The policy was in the original zapplication description. However, because it was new, our zapplication administer sent emails to folks that may have overlooked the policy in the application materials.  After hearing back from several artists, we have understood that this may be an inhibiting factor for a few artists—which most certainly was not our intention.  Our Zapp administrator has let applicants know that we strongly suggest including at least 2 new images in their application and has updated the Zapplication description as follows: Please note, it is strongly encouraged that artists who previously applied submit at least two new images each year. 


    As always, we remain committed to hosting a quality festival that provides valuable opportunities for artists.  The festival remains intimate- with only 135 selected artists- and the booth fees have been kept low.  It is free for public attendance—we hope visitors spend their money at the artists’ booths not on admission fees.  Artist amenities include: a Patron’s program to encourage larger purchases, two complimentary tickets to the artist awards banquet, artist-only lines at food stations throughout the event, free booth-sitting and lunch delivery services, and cash awards totaling $3,000. Extensive event marketing and word of mouth draw buyers from throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

    We appreciate your feedback and look forward to the 42nd year of a great festival.

    Sincerely, - John Michael Kohler Arts Center

    • I have applied the last few years but have not gotten in in a long time. I usually want to send my BEST images of my best work. No matter how many I have shot, after I get the images back, there are always some  that just work better together.  Choosing an image that goes LESS well with the others, or is of a piece that doesn’t present as well as I had hoped it would, seems counter-intuitive.

      I saw the requirement last year (wondering at the time…they actually have the time to go over previous applications?!). So I sent a completely different set; not my favorites. Didn’t get accepted in 2012 either.

      So what are my choices now? Send them my third tier images? But that is what I would have to do if I chose yet different images to apply this year….I have no options left for the best ones. I feel like I am on Priceline, and have used up all my free re-bids.  

      To Kohler: Are your jurors actually comparing imges sent the previous year, or the year before that, even if the artist was not accepted?

  • considering how long this show has been around, this is surprising.  this show had a fairly good reputation until now.  

    Shows don't enforce their current rules, now changing them midstream is a bit of a joke.  And since when do the jurors, not the show directors make the rules?

    This is an unfair advantage for people who have never applied as the jurors have never seen their photos but I wonder how they are going to enforce this anyway.  If they have that much time to go over images, this better be the most incredible display of art seen in years as one would expect amazing work and none of the questionable artists that have been showing up with regularity lately.

  • Thanks for this report, Larry. This was indeed an undue burden for artists. If this site does nothing else we hope to bring this kind of information to the people reading it. It works. Show directors read this forum and make decisions based on what they read here. Artists do have power. Not all shows have a depth of experience and don't know the way our business operates. Some exist in a vacuum and need your good intentions and advice to make them better. 

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