With the advent of SELECTION DAY and the Annual Exhibition coming up in August and September respectively, this article taken from FineArtViews* newsletter seemed quite pertinent.
article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half
of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for
FineArtViews and her freelance writing appears in regional newspapers,
online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.
Let’s start on the right foot by eliminating the word “should” from
Nasty word, “should.”
Generally, it’s used by others, either directly or indirectly, to impose their
will or agenda on someone who isn’t in line with the program.
My favorite example of this is the finger waggling children’s ditty:
“Everybody ought to (read ‘should’) go to Sunday School . . ,” but
there are plenty of other examples:
“Even if you are unemployed, you should put away 25% of your net income
every month to a retirement savings account. Groceries are not as important as
“You should read to your child 45 minutes a day, beginning prior to
conception. They should be able to read by themselves at age 4.”
“You should eat edamame for breakfast and lunch. Top it with a tasty
coating of powdered fermented kelp.”
Some shoulds are not necessarily bad advice. But even good advice isn’t always
applicable to your situation.
“You should enter art shows. This is the best and only way to further your
career as an artist.”
“You shouldn’t bother with entering art shows. This traditional route is
outdated and a waste of money.”
What is it about us as humans that we classify and categorize complex
situations into one-sentence, one-size-fits-all dictums?
Can we move toward freeing ourselves from this self-imposed tyranny?
First of all, the options we have before us number greater than two, that is,
we are not limited to the choice of entering hundreds of shows per year or none
at all. We can enter as many competitions – local, regional, statewide,
national, international – that 1) we can afford and 2) we feel like we have a
good opportunity at getting into because the quality of our work matches the
quality demanded by the show, and the type of work we do is in line with the
body of the show.
The first year we seriously marketed the Norwegian Artist’s work, we spent more
than $800 entering shows. Dollar-wise, that sounds like a lot, but believe me,
at $15 to $80 entry fee per show, it’s like buying chocolate by the pound at
the seashore: it doesn’t take long to rack up a bill.
But there’s a limit to how much fine chocolate fits into the budget, and every
year, we review the choices and determine what is worth the fee and what isn’t,
always remembering that, just because we write out the check for the jurying
process doesn’t mean that we will be juried in.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of not being juried in, please remember that a
rejection notice is not the same thing as a painting not being good enough to
qualify for the show. Depending upon the jurying panel, which sometimes
consists of one person, a painting can be rejected for many reasons that have
nothing to do with ability and skill.
This last statement is easily confirmed by reviewing the catalog of the show,
if it is big enough to support one, or simply attending the show, if it is
smaller and more local. Across the spectrum, indifferent or even bad art gets
into these events, and it’s your guess as much as mine as to how it gets there.
I imagine it follows the same path as the business world, where incompetent
people are promoted as managers over better workers, or the education
establishment, where instructors of less than stellar teaching abilities are
advanced to administrative posts.
If the quality control level is too scruffy, I give the show a pass, but if the
overall synopsis is high, it’s worth a shot.
*FineArtViews Newsletter is an American daily letter mailed to subscribers. It has interesting information about the artworld. If you want to subscribe, click on the address http://www.fineartviews.com and follow the prompts.