Judging art

I've been having a great visit with Mom and siblings these past two weeks, so I have been away from the studio and consumed with matters other than painting. I don't know how other artists manage, but I am a bit of a one-trick pony. I have to either visit or paint. I am too distracted with one to attend to the other, even if alternating days. In any event, last week I did manage to do one art-related activity. I was invited to jury an all media show at one of the local art centers in town. I was delighted to see such a large array of talent in the entries. The down side is that it made it that much more difficult to narrow things down.

As I explained to the entrants the night of the opening, there were several factors that played a part in my process as juror. First, I don't care how impartial one tries to be, a certain amount of personal preference influences what a given juror will select. Believe me, I tried to be as objective as possible but art for me is often an emotional experience and I am sure my own tastes played some part.

Second, I looked for a certian amount of mastery in technique. This can be a bit more objective, as you are looking for mastery in the use of materials, composition, color mixing, drawing, etc.  There were several pieces that found their way into the show that were not my favorites personally, but I could not deny the technical ability achieved by the artist.

Third, I looked for the overall statement of the piece. What was the intent or statment and was the artist successful in relaying that message, intent, feeling or statement to the viewer?  Did the handling of the materials support or distract from the intent? This is tricky because while intent is important, you also want to avoid a "message" that is so heavy-handed that it hits you over the head with a two-by-four.

And finally I looked for how all of the pieces would work together as a show. While I wasn't involved in hanging the show, I acted as if I were. I imagined how the work might flow and dialogue together so that the guests would have an interesting overall experience.

Juried shows can be quite a hodge-podge of styles, subjects, and mediums, but overall I think the show turned out very well for one of this nature. It was interesting to see my own reaction to the way the work was hung. It was very well done, though in certain instances I imagined different works hanging together. But that is the fun of art! Everybody has their own interpretation and creates their own dialogue which only adds to the experience.

Coincidentally, today I came across a great article entitled "How to Judge Art: Five Qualities You Can Critique," which reinforces my ideas and adds some very good additional food for thought. It comes from a blog I just recently discovered and know I will revisit many times called EmptyEasel. The author, Dan provides some wonderful info and resources for artists.

Speaking of empty easels, I'm looking forward to remedying my own case of that syndrome when I return to the studio next week!