Turning Archive 2007

Accepting Art Show Results

>For those who are contemplating entering juried art shows let me relate some recent experiences so you can see what to expect. I just did a show in Florida which was billed as a good show with about 60,000 expected attendees. Prior to setting up my booth I visited the museum that contained their collection of items purchased at previous shows. I commented after seeing the exhibit that I might as well turn around and go home because my work was too "normal" for this show. I soon found out that I was correct. Wood art won nothing in this show. Neither did water-color. After the judging I had several people come to me and tell me that I should have won an award because I had some of the best things there but I came home empty, discouraged, and with a smaller balance in my checking account. Yesterday I got a call from one of the visitors to the show. This visitor happened to be a scout for another art show about 40 miles from that one. This "visitor" was a qualified art judge. To make a long story short I was invited to participate in an invitation only art show with 9 other turners and woodworkers. I was told by this person that she had picked up 7 business cards from artists at the show I was in and that of the 7, five were "wood-art". This lady loved wood. The other judge did not. This is what you can expect. Two of my pieces at that show had previously won "Best of Show" awards yet they did not even get "Honorable Mention" at that one. (Needless to say, I have started a log on judges for art shows and I will skip the shows where these judges that appear to not like wood are doing the judging.) In considering why wood items did not do well at that show I remembered a statement that Ray Key made in a class I took with him a few years ago. He said "the best thing you can do to improve sales and interest in wood-turning is help other woodturners around you to improve their products". Ray went on to explain how a few poorly made items sold in an area can hurt the other turners in that area. I think he nailed it with that statement. Some judges just skip over items made from wood because they have seen a lot of "flea market" quality items at prior shows and they just don't consider turned wood to be worthy. On the other hand, there are those judges who recognize the importance of knowledge of woods and wood characteristics and appreciate the skills that are necessary to produce pieces of art from this medium. Wood, unlike paint or clay, has the "art" already in it. You can use the wood as a blank canvas if you like or you can appreciate the art that is in the wood and strive to bring the best out of it with a good form, good finish, and whatever else you can do to enhance what is already there. There will always be judges that like to see the envelope pushed to the limits, and beyond, and there will always be judges that like a simpler approach which recognizes the natural beauty of wood and superb craftsmanship needed to get the most out of what is already there. Also, there is frequently politics involved but we can't talk politics here......

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