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In my recent post, I told the story of applying to an art show and having the director take it upon himself to switch my category.  No one mentioned this in the follow-up comments and I am wondering what you all think of it?  

Has it happened to you? 

If it did, how would you feel? 

Would you feel entitled to a refund? 

Would you ask for it?

If you got no response would you be surprised?  (When customers send me a payment I answer their missives).

If you missed it, here it is:

I recently sent a $25 jury fee to The Des Moines Arts Festival through Zapplication and went off on a road trip to do shows in Memphis and Pensacola.  When I got home and caught-up on my email, I found  one from Stephen King the director of The Des Moines Arts show.  In it, he said he thought my digital photography should be moved from the photography category to the mixed media category.  The email said if I agreed I should respond by a certain date.  The date was long past.  So, I thought, since I had not responded, at least my application would be juried in the right category.  Right?

Not so.

On my next visit to Zapp, I found my category had been changed to Mixed Media!  Then I got an email from the show giving the statistics of the applications.  In photography there were approximately 100 applications.  In mixed media there were over 150.  Needless to say, I recently got my “Dear John” letter from Mr. King.

What did I get for $25?

 Back in November when I got Mr. Kings email, I replied that I thought he should put me back in the right category and that his email intimated I wouldn’t be switched without my permission.  Recently, I emailed him asking for my jury fee back “ for cause”.  I didn’t get a reply back then and I don’t expect I will now.

Update:  Still haven't heard from Mr. King.


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Comment by Richard L. Sherer on December 26, 2012 at 6:44pm
A situation similar to Barbara's is in the 2013 Crested Butte, CO App. for fiber. Anything wearable now has to be in Wearable Art. Hmmm does this include leather that is wearable by dogs and horses or just humans. Also they state that "no factory produced wearable items, regardless of modification or enhancement by the artist may be exhibited". Their intent with belts is most likely buckles. Ok, I can make up sterling and karat gold buckles for my belts, but then you would have to also jury in jewelry. What about those fancy buttons or zippers on clothing. I did Crested Butte for seven consecutive years and was an award winning artist there. When management changed I quit going as the whole scene started to get real squirrelly. Life is difficult enough for artists without restrictions that impact the ability to market your work. Good luck trying to sell belts without buckles and dresses without buttons, etc. I just walk away from this stuff as CB isn't the only show that weekend or the next. Sometimes show managements begin to think too highly of themselves when it comes to defining media.
Comment by Larry Berman on December 26, 2012 at 4:34pm

Hi Barbara,

Makes me wonder if it would have been acceptable if you didn't have belts attached to the buckles in your booth image, and used cardboard instead of leather at the show.

Larry Berman

Comment by Barbara Nelson on December 26, 2012 at 4:10pm

I have had the same issue with the Des Moines show. I had Silver & 14k gold belt buckles with a leather straps in my booth shot and SK wanted me to apply in fiber and would not let me show the leather strap on the belt buckle if I applied in jewelry. He seemed to think the belt buckle would be fine in the fiber category. I asked if a $1500 belt buckle didn't out weigh a $20 leather strap? Absolutely not said SK. I demanded a jury refund since this all went on during their "pre-jury" and the true jurors had not seen the images. I got the refund minus the discount fee charged by zapp. I don't apply to this show anymore for obvious reasons. Luckily, it has not affected my income in any way.

Comment by Ron Mellott on December 23, 2012 at 8:02am

Okay, way against my better judgement ..... though after surviving the Mayan Calandar apocalypse - I figure - what the heck!  My goal is not to be critical - but realistically - most of us do this for our living.  It is not a game, it is not an exercise, a past-time, a hobby.  We are seriously and completely vested in art shows and how they run as that is what we have chosen to do along with creating our artwork.  We rarely have one iota of say in how this art show venue system works.  So pardon us in advance if we get a little out of sorts at times on such issues.

Remember that game we played as kids (maybe adults after too much drinking and drugs), when you sit in a circle, and one person whispers something into the ear of the person sitting next to them, and they do the same, and by the time it gets back to you - now matter how small the circle - it is substantially different?  Here too.

Connie:  you say Rich wanted to apply in the digital category not mixed media.  No, here is what Rich wrote in his original blog posting, so we all stay on the same page:  "In it, he [referring to Stephen King] said he thought my digital photography should be moved from the photography category to the mixed media category."  Rich photographs digitally, but applied in the PHOTOGRAPHY category as that is where, after reading the Des Moines rules, he felt he belonged - is that not correct Rich?  He was moved to mixed media.  Maybe what would help is if someone from Des Moines would put on this blog posting the actual prospectus/application definitions of those three categories so we all have a reference point.  Des Moines, is that possible?  Hello????

As I understand it, one of the critical issues is that in that letter/e-mail from Stephen King, it was stated that if Rich agreed, he was asked to respond back by a certain date.  Rich didn't respond - he was traveling, though that is moot - he didn't respond.  To me, the obvious conclusion is that in the absence of a response - nothing changes.  If the director (in this case Stephen King) wanted a discussion, he could have easily said so.  If he was going to move Rich if he didn't respond, he could have and should have said so.  To my knowledge, neither of those were stated.  So, as originally proposed in that letter/e-mail to Rich, the absence of a response would mean Rich did not agree and would not be moved.  Obviously, yet another example of an unclear communication between a show and its artist base.  Would you not agree?  And is such ambiguity not completely avoidable?

Maureen:  As to your comment about applying in a category with fewer applicants ... first, that kind of impugns the ethics of Rich - probably not what you intended, but how at least it came across to me - so surely a better phrasing is out there, no?  Second, how do we know such information to so direct our devious, unethical, and misguided efforts to get into a show by knowing which are the smallest categories we could possibly apply to?  Is that not an after-the-fact statistic?  At the time we open, read, and apply to an event, we have no idea how many people are in that category because they haven't applied yet, nor are those statistics from past year available on any website I've ever seen.  So you post those for past years in your online Ann Arbor archives, Maureen?  Truth is Maureen, and you know this to be a fact as well as we do - most shows don't bother to give us our jury score - why do you think they are going to break down how many people applied in and were accepted into each category?  SAnd if a show were to give one such piece of information back, and you care about the artist base, which has more meaning?  Which is more worth a show's time to "help" its artist base?  To go back to Rich's original posting - yes, I feel I paid for a jury score - trusted a show did actually jury the show - that score exists - and has meaning to me.  It's what I paid for.  Not returning it is not a logistical issue - that is completely solvable.  It is a mindset against it.  But again - as Rich said - what do we get for the jury fee we pay?  What are we 'entitled to' from our caring overseers?  


Comment by John Hartung on December 21, 2012 at 2:22am

I agree, I have a hard time with categories at all. I understand people want a balanced show though, but there are so many gray areas. Depending on how the application reads I'll either apply in the photography or the digital category. For those that don't know, I do both straight photos and photo montages done with Photoshop. More and more, shows seem to want to classify me as "Photography", but as of 5 years ago most shows felt I was "Digital". I personally don't care, whatever category they think will give me the best chance to jury into the show. My favorite category I've been placed in is Boston Mills "Whimsical" category!

Personally, I don't really understand why the show director would of moved you to mixed media, R.C.? At the very least, they should reply back to you and explain their reasoning. As far as refund, it would certainly bring good will. If Des Moines had good reason of why they felt you had a better opportunity to jury into the Mixed Media category though, I'd probably accept it. But having had no reply, I'd make a mental note.

Like many artists, I make mental notes as to what shows do what for me. It helps me to decide if I'll want to jury the following year. In 2011 when I injured my neck I had to cancel from several shows and most wouldn't give me any kind of refund or credit. In 2012 I only applied again to the shows that had given me at least a partial refund. The shows might not have missed me in the least, and probably didn't notice one less jury fee but it made me feel better.

Comment by geri a. wegner on December 20, 2012 at 9:25pm

If that statement is true, why are there categories at all?

And, due to sheer numbers of applicants in jewelry, shows would be "top heavier" than they already are in jewelry.   

I guess there isn't as much good art out there as I thought.

Comment by Larry Berman on December 20, 2012 at 9:08pm

Sounds like question #57 from the show director's handbook of the hundred most asked questions and responses that artists are most likely to believe.

Larry Berman

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on December 20, 2012 at 8:58pm

Maureen, as a working artist doing shows for 31 years, I do not believe the following statement to be true:

 "If the work is going to get into the's going to get into the show regardless of the medium it's juried under.  3D mixed media and sculpture are two other mediums where the line is very blurry.  Artists often call and ask where they should apply for better odds of getting in.  My answer is always the doesn't matter...if the work is going to be accepted, it's going to be accepted in either category."


Connie, do you believe that is true?

Comment by R. C. Fulwiler on December 20, 2012 at 8:46pm

If I had been accepted into mixed media, I wouldn't have complained, why would I?  But, I'd be surprised by a show who would accept me into the wrong category.  I want to be juried by qualified people (not sure Mr. King is one of those), against other photographers on a level playing field.  What's fair about comparing my photography with artist who specialize in mixing media?

Comment by Connie Mettler on December 20, 2012 at 3:23pm

I'm with you on that, Mo, and thank you for pointing that out. I only wanted to make sure we were on the same page on the issue, not that you were inferring nefarious tactics on a humble artist ;)

But I do take your point, what if he had been accepted in Mixed Media ... interesting to ponder.

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