Art by committee

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Zehava Power of Halifax, Nova Scotia wrote, “I work for an art-sales-and-rental gallery that represents over 200 local artists. Attached to a public gallery, it’s a volunteer-based operation with a few paid staff. We have a committee of volunteer jurors that meets every two weeks to select from an average of 60-70 entries. Years ago, our volunteers used to notify artists over the phone and explain their decision. Due to tears, arguments and anger it was decided to make it less personal. Nowadays rejected artists get notified by mail with a generic blurb — “not this time; please try again.” Due to the mysterious rejections and lack of feedback, some artists have given up dealing with us. How do we keep our artists happy and keep running our operation efficiently and professionally?”

Thanks, Zehava. Your problem may be in the way your jury is formed. Semi-permanent volunteer committees soon become suspect of favouring certain styles, subjects or individuals. This causes all kinds of discord, unhappiness and disgruntlement, not to mention the production of catered work. You need to inject new juror blood and outside expertise to avoid perceived possible chronic incest.

If you have a committee of, say, four regulars, you need to add new guest jurors. Paying someone to come from another city will add integrity and win the respect of your membership. If you have a really large committee, you might consider giving an outside juror more than one vote.

Regarding member communications, you are quite right to avoid the slippery slope of post-rejection intercourse. “The decision of the jury is final,” and a pink slip is all they need. Many big co-ops work best that way. If people are consistently rejected, they always have the option of applying to other galleries. Creative people know and understand the principle of selection of the fittest, the possibilities of becoming an endangered species, and even the threat of extinction. Like the stock market, the art business thrives on differences of opinion. The painted ponies go up and down. Artists just need to know that wherever they choose to hang out, they need to have a level playing field.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “An expert is an ordinary fellow from another town.” (Mark Twain)

Esoterica: A jury that thinks it knows what will sell is the most dangerous jury of all. Even a jury that selects for “modern” sensitivities is suspect. Better to give your stuff to a commercial dealer with questionable taste than to subject yourself to a committee. Sales-and-rental galleries generally send puny cheques to artists anyway and, curiously, the work always seems to come back with damaged frames. Further, by renting works, they interfere with the legitimate commercial market that serious artists need to survive. With the exception of gallery darlings, most successful artists never submit for any other reason than to help out in the community.

Transparent judging
by Sue Hoppe, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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“Cry for Africa”
mixed media painting
by Sue Hoppe

At ARTEC, a Community Art Gallery in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, we have faced many of the same issues. The way we have got around the dilemma of not entering into discussion, yet still making the judging process transparent, is that each time we appoint a jury for an open show, which we vary each time depending on the type of show we are mounting, we arrange for at least one of the jurors to make themselves available for a “walkabout” a few days into the show. This is open to the artists and the public, and jurors explain the merits of the selected work. In this way, artist and public alike receive an educational experience in what juries look for in good art, and those whose works were rejected are able to make mental comparisons and get an understanding of where their work was short of the mark, without the juror having to enter into endless debates about each rejected piece.

Excellence before efficiency
by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA

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“Sorrow”
oil painting
by Rick Rotante

After reading this last letter I was shaking. What kind of gallery is this? It sounds more like an assembly line at the Ford motor company. You mention “running our operation efficiently and professionally?” This sounds more like factory work than selecting art. This is the problem with art today; it’s organized and run by those who look toward “efficiency” instead of excellence, creativity, expression and execution. No wonder your artists are leaving in droves. I would, too. All you see is dollar signs in rentals, not art. I am surprised you actually wrote in for a comment. When you handle artwork like so many bananas or apples, all you look for are the red ones not the most flavorful. My suggestion is to get rid of your permanent jury staff and hire jurists from outside your “organization” and infuse new ideas and life into the process. How about hiring some of those artists you seem to treat with disregard?


There are 9 comments for Excellence before efficiency by Rick Rotante

From: Rick Rotante — Jan 24, 2011

An acquaintance and former student of mine just opened his own gallery. We consulted, he and I, for months trying to open a gallery that was FOR artists, instead of using artists. His gallery refunds your money if your submitted work is rejected for any show. All proceeds from sales of your work are the artists. There is a modest standard forty dollar “a year” fee for submitting work. He has a new show every month. I’ve always said artists have the power, we create the work, we now need to exercise our muscle and work together. The gallery is in Pasadena California called The Colonnade Gallery. Tell him Rick sent you.

From: Millie Greene — Jan 24, 2011

Thanks for the gallery info. Sounds good enough to look into. Your work continues to get better and better. Thanks again.

From: anonymous — Jan 24, 2011

“Sorrow” is terrific! I’m so glad you contribute to this site. Been to your website. A real treat.

From: Sharon Cory — Jan 25, 2011

I’m curious…what revenues does the gallery have to operate with, if all proceeds go back to the artist? No matter how altruistic the gallery wants to be, there’s still rent, utilities, possibly staff.

From: Rick — Jan 25, 2011

He charges to hang work monthly, sells jewely and pottery and knows his profits will just pay the bills. He is banking on word of mouth for people to come in and exhibit. Remember he also accepts work for shows so when your work is accepted so are your fees.

From: baylis — Jan 25, 2011

ok, so you say he charges $40 per year for submissions, and there are 12 shows per year. So he collects $480 per year from shows and sells jewlery and pottery – how can that possibly pay for the gallery utilities and staff? Unless there is a massive amount of submissions that don’t get into the shows…which ends up the same thing as that coo-p from Halifax is doing with their jury…or am I missing something here?

From: harding — Jan 25, 2011

these are probably not solo shows, but many entries per show…

From: Suzette Fram — Jan 25, 2011

When you have to pay in order to exhibit, that’s considered a ‘vanity’ gallery. Your friend may be a very nice person, but he’s getting paid by charging fees to exhibit the work. No risk that way, he’s getting paid whether or not there are any sales. The artists are the ones taking the risk. Still and all, if the fee is reasonable, it might still be worth it if you can’t get your work into a regular commercial gallery.

From: Rick — Jan 25, 2011

It would be best if you are interested to call the gallery and see what’s up. Yes? As for “Vanity Gallery” — we all pay show entre fees. A vanity gallery is paying for space to hang without a show involved. You pay for a set period like a month.

Research juror preferences
by Marilyn Kousoulas, Gambier, OH, USA

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“Brown”
original painting
by Marilyn Kousoulas

Always research the art jurors. That usually informs artists about juror background and their very own art preferences. I never pay entry fees for my paintings when I know the juror has specified interest in another media. Professional jurors who practice art should be very astute and all art media should be considered. But, jurors are human and do lean towards their own media preferences. Again, research the art jurors before entering your work. Artists have a better chance of being considered if there are at least three professional art jurors with different art preferences.


There are 2 comments for Research juror preferences by Marilyn Kousoulas

From: Jan Ross — Jan 25, 2011

I agree with Marilyn. Too often shows will bring in a college professor with expertise in one medium and very little knowledge of another, so he tends to choose more works in the area he’s most familiar. I think having a panel of jurors is a better approach. Otherwise, I’ve learned to stick with juried shows in my medium with top-notch jurors. Of course, one still needs to bear in mind there are preferences in styles/subject matter, but an experienced artist with an open mind will balance a show.

From: Jim Oberst — Jan 25, 2011

My experience is different. I’m in a large art club that has multi-medium shows and one juror/judge. I have seen no bias. In fact, in general I believe that judges are more likely to choose works different from their own usual art. Perhaps it seems more creative and difficult to them. I heard of a recent expert juror in a show in my area who rejected a wonderful painting because “the figures were not quite right”. He’s an expert figurative painter. I believe any talented artist can choose excellent art, regardless of medium. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Rejection breeds opportunity
by Louise Francke, NC, USA

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“Ms Rhino”
original painting
by Louise Francke

Just recently I, too, was rejected by a new local gallery. Admittedly, I had dawdled when it was forming because I kept hoping the gallery I was in wouldn’t falter. Unfortunately, my old gallery went down too late and I was caught with the many new unrepresented local artists searching for a gallery. Why cry over spilt milk, it only sours one’s thoughts and art. My motto is move on, look for other places, different venues, and down the road resubmit if they are still in business.

Recently, I was approached by a nationally known printer, who had put one of my paintings on hold because of the economy. Would I be interested in a fellow Licenser of art works taking my work to a Japanese jig saw puzzle company? Why not! If we don’t venture down these different roads we can’t reach the end of the rainbow. The Gallery is not the end of the road for all artists. I won’t commercialize intentionally what I paint; but, if they like what I do, then let it be a two lane road.

Rental galleries have value
by Shelley Mitchell, Halifax, NS, Canada

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“Great White Wave”
original painting
by Shelley Mitchell

Although I am an established professional artist represented by several retail galleries, I feel these Art Sales and Rental galleries fill a need in the art world. Your thoughts on improving the volunteer jury are bang-on. What you fail to mention is the fact that although well established artists don’t need to put their work in a rental gallery, it is a valuable resource for beginning and intermediate career artists to increase their income sales and thus their confidence. The cheques are not that puny and the damage is no worse than that suffered in many a retail space! Some successful artists will use a rental gallery to place work that is transitional or older but that gives people a crack at getting their work at a more affordable price. Any professional artist worth the title won’t show sub-standard work anywhere. Last but not least, although rental galleries do have an advantage in having some volunteer staff, they still pay all the other costs of running a retail space including some paid staff to actually keep things running. Volunteers are very willing but often can be inexperienced or dilettante! Most of these galleries also give their proceeds to the local public gallery to help purchase new work for their collections and thus “give back” to the arts community as well as exposing many people to living with original art that they would or could never purchase.

The only game in town
by Elizabeth Schamehorn, Washago, ON, Canada

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“November”
original painting
by Elizabeth Schamehorn

I was part of a local co-operative art gallery for about eight years. We set up the co-op because, in our small art market area, we had to figure out how to keep a gallery running when sales wouldn’t be enough to cover the bills.

The first two or three years, learning as we went, we were the only game in town. We had a jury of three to assess applicants for membership, as we wanted to keep the quality level as high as possible. I found myself on the jury for quite a long time, and somehow always ended up being the one who phoned with the news. Great fun when the news was good; not so much when it was bad. Most people took it well but a few were argumentative and angry. In order to keep the process as consistent as possible, we wrote out a list of criteria to check off, and a space at the bottom for comments. Each juror studied the submissions alone and filled out the forms without talking to the others. That would avoid the problem of influence of the juror’s own opinion by the other members, especially if one had a stronger personality.

I agree that it is much better to just send a notice with the results than to phone people. That’s how I have found out the results of my own applications to juried shows. That’s how I’ve learned to accept rejection.


There are 3 comments for The only game in town by Elizabeth Schamehorn

From: Richard Mazzarino — Jan 24, 2011

Galleries are there primarily to make money not serve the artist. If you fear rejection, stay out of the gallery. Don’t paint at all for that matter. Rejection is looked upon as a bad thing. Yes it hurts, but it should also push one to do better. It’s a chance to take stock and a second look to see if your work was really worth it or were you fooling yourself as we are all want to do from time to time. Another point is not all good work “fits” the theme of a show. The rejection should say why the piece was rejected regardless of how the news is delivered.

From: Darla — Jan 25, 2011

Love your painting — it even makes winter look attractive!

From: Carol Morrison — Jan 26, 2011

Is the comment form sent to the artist if the work is rejected? If so, I think this is an excellent idea. My main complaint with our Art Sales and Rental Gallery is that, if a work is rejected, I do not know if it is because they do not like the work, or simply because they have enough paintings of that size or subject matter.

Studio best place for worship
by John Ferrie, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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“We dream big”
acrylic painting
by John Ferrie

Any art organization with over 25 artists is really challenging. Not only are there difficulties with artists, and which artist is showing which, and curators concerned about sales, but anything over 25 and clients have trouble following as well. Two hundred artists sound like a dog’s breakfast! I can picture the final warehouse scene in Raiders of the Lost Arc! It is also this style of being one of the coveted “chosen” that is really troubling. Being chosen or signed by a gallery is really not the success path for an artist. And yet these Art Churches, the gallery institution where artists worship and hope to get into are nothing more than a business.

I would ask this “art-sales-rental-gallery” how much do they actually sell and what kind of commission do they take? Or do they just charge the artists once they have been “chosen”? This is usually the case with “art by committee” and I highly suspect so in this case.

Why not make it fun and have everyone join in. Rotate the artists every four months so that there is always something interesting and new. Have other artists become the jury and always rotate the jury. Inviting someone who is not of the art community to jury might put a different spin on it. Or have themes like “City,” “Hope” or “Beauty” for future exhibitions. If I was in this community I would avoid this Art Conglomerate! I am sure the ones in it are thinking they “made it.” The rejected ones are thinking “God, I can’t even get in there.” Personally, I would avoid the whole thing and have a solo show in my studio.

Sales and survival
by Rodney Mackay, Lunenburg, NS, Canada

I have been painting full-time for the last four decades, which all started from a Crayola fixation that goes back way beyond that.

I moved to my new wife’s home province of Nova Scotia five years ago and considered applying to exhibit with art sales and rentals in order to gain recognition in a new area. I had no idea how selection was managed and who its proponents were. If I had understood from the first that it was “juried,” I would not even have placed an inquiry. In any event, the remuneration I had heard about did not seem to warrant the time and expense.

Over the years I have had a 50-50 acceptance/rejection history with commercial art galleries. In the distant past, I have served as one of those “out-of-town experts” and am ashamed of myself. When I did, I had to fight off the opinions of local judges who wanted their friends to be represented. No one could pay me enough to do that again!

At the beginning of time, I tagged on to the Hadassah-Wizo Art Rental program in Saint John, New Brunswick and rented with them for a number of years. I liked all the people I met when I delivered and picked up paintings for a number of painters at nearby Sussex, but my first wife, Anne, heard that the girls were folding their tent. There were no legal contracts with them so we pulled my three paintings. The rumours were true, and not everyone escaped unscathed. I missed those $8-a-month cheques, but the frames were dented and dinged, and one painting seemed to have been used as a beer tray!

I can’t agree with the idea of showing with a dealer who has “questionable taste.” What does that say about one’s paintings? The return from art rental is definitely “puny.” I never once had a sale from a gallery or studio as a result of this type of exposure.

I am interested in sales because I want to survive to paint another day or so – and because I believe I have a good product to offer. I don’t think it is true that artists submit to the judgment of their peers “to help out in the community.” In my experience, painters who look to art rental programs are seeking whatever might work to generate sales.

Beyond expectations
by Adrianne Moro, Brazil

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“Mistique”
oil painting
by Adrianne Moro

Firstly, I would like to thank you for answering my e-mail. Since I subscribed to your twice-a-week letter I became your admirer and I can say that you always brought me joy and inspiration to go on with my art.

But this time it was different. Through this delicate moment in my life I felt connected with you somehow. Your answer was beyond my expectations; I feel lucky and blessed to be in touch with such a person like you and was reassured that we are human beings that are linked by a powerful energy that vibrates in the universe. I feel that this connection is overwhelming and it is primarily made of love. As you said in your message, we artists have a responsibility and we cannot give up our art, no matter how difficult the situation could be. So, I realized that and suddenly I found a way to try to do it; I decided to paint my grandfather’s portrait. It’s been a difficult process. I can tell you that the only progress I made until now was the drawing. I feel right now that by doing this I will be closer to him and somehow understand my feelings better. I am also very happy and touched to see the wonderful messages in your website from other fellow artists. They are really wonderful people. I also felt their kindness and love — that made me feel a lot better. Now it’s just a matter of time. You said that his passing was a gift to me and I would try to deserve everything he left to me, his legacy of love. It is what I would try to honor forever. I feel that my grandfather would like me to be happy by doing what I love most. With your wise words, you could help me a lot. Thank you so much.

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Featured Workshop: Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos

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Don Cavin and Ina Climpson (left) and The Howser Towers (right)

Heli-painting with Robert Genn in the Bugaboos

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World of Art Featured artist Leighann Foster, Boerne, TX, USA  

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Eggplant Parmigiana

oil painting by
by Leighann Foster, Boerne, TX, USA

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Susan Richardson of Tracy, CA, USA, who wrote, “Loved the Joni Mitchell painted ponies reference. Being a tremendous Joni admirer, I had never thought about those rising and falling painted ponies having a partially literal reference to painting, but like all great art, her art works on many levels and unfolds over time.”

And also Gail Caduff-Nash of Hendersonville, NC, USA, who wrote, “What if the gallery had ‘special’ exhibits for different genres of art – such as “primitive,” “outsider,” “modern,” “floral,” or a show for unframed art to provide more inclusiveness to some art that might not be accepted into a general show. Special thematic shows would cut down on the number of entries.”

And also Lucan Charchuk of White Rock, BC, Canada, who wrote, “Nobody in this part of the country enters local competitions anymore because it’s just a hobby for art’s sake!”

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Art by committee

 

 

From: Gail Caduff-Nash — Jan 20, 2011

Good article. Good suggestions. I’d like to add a suggestion – that the gallery have ‘special’ exhibits for different genres of art — such as “primitive.” “outsider,” “modern,” florals, etc. to provide more inclusiveness to some art that might not be accepted into a general show. Or (one of my peeves) a show for unframed art. Or have special thematic shows that would cut down on the number of entries. Thanks.

From: barrell — Jan 21, 2011

I would add that jurors should always include one non-painter. We non painters always run into judges and jurors who are biased towards painters. They dont have a clue as to what my mosaics and wood burns are about.

From: Aly Pellegrini — Jan 21, 2011

I suppose it’s easy to say, but artists of all sorts must be sensitive to issues of art, but would do well to develop a thicker hide for commerce. Some aspects of commerce might seem to be personal, but in fact the results are usually a matter of pragmatics. A stiff upper lip, a bit of callous, and some unassailable optimism, hold one in good stead when being knocked around in the world of commerce.

From: Rodney Mackay — Jan 21, 2011

I also dislike themes!

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Jan 21, 2011

I have only participated in two juried exhibitions and some of my entries were accepted some entries were rejected. I felt somewhat elated and I was secretly hopeful that perhaps I had a chance. I did not win but I felt good that my entry was accepted. I am not discouraged and I’ll try every opportunity. I think we had juror from outside of our organization and different people who are well known in their art style; they are graduates from fine arts schools and I am confident they are really impartial. I think that giving individual feedback to a rejected artist is not encouraging but rather adding more bruising to ones ego. I think if there were any feedback at all it should be given in general; what makes a work standout among the crowd touching how use of color, perspective and the composition to the best advantage.

From: Judith Babcock — Jan 21, 2011

There is an organization of Plein Air Painters in Colorado. When they have a juried show they will not tell you who the judges are. Usually there are three. Two of them are kept a secret only to say that they are members of their organization. The results are as you might guess, the most chosen work for the show are the artists from the inner circle.

From: Andrea Pottyondy — Jan 21, 2011
From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Jan 21, 2011

There are so many art societies nowadays that it is important to educate people what their expectations should be. I think that this topic hasn’t been exhausted yet. Societies bring happiness and unhappiness to many people, so bringing in more understanding would be of huge help to that side of the art community. The thing that I often want to ask is “why did you join an art society” – the solution to a problem is often found by just answering that one question, especially if it doesn’t match what that particular organization can offer. On the other hand, those things evolve over time and new members do have the responsibility to roll up their sleeves and work on changing things to keep the group in tune with the times. Your advise sounds good to me, although I would add that the guest jurors should always be new artist, not just one dude from another town who knows everything about everything.

From: Cassandra Tondro — Jan 22, 2011

I have sold quite a few paintings through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Sales and Rental Gallery. They have a paid staff, and a volunteer jury. Most artwork is leased to sell, and paid off over time, so it doesn’t come back to the gallery. Some corporations rent work on a rotating basis, but my work has always come back in pristine condition.

I think sales and rental galleries can work.

From: Mike Young — Jan 22, 2011

MY definitions: An expert is one who helps you go wrong – with certainty. Channeling Mark Twain: One cannot be a Prophet in one’s own country. Juries: always a crap shoot.

From: Jacques Latour — Jan 22, 2011

The very idea of a committee is always suspect. Unfortunately the convention has crept into so many areas of decision making. It helps if artists understand the nature of the beast and take it all philosophically. Whenever bureaucracy meets creativity there is trouble and disappointment. Let’s say that both sides mean well.

From: C. S. Bowles — Jan 22, 2011

Public galleries and their art-and-sales running dogs put an unnatural spin on quality art appreciation and collection. They should get out of the business and just concentrate on offering cutting edge installation art, shock and awe and other forms of public entertainment.

From: Ed Lincoln — Jan 22, 2011

On the other hand, we successful commercial painters support underfunded public galleries by giving them our work to sell. Conservative quality work supplements the funding of unpopular experimentation.

From: anonymous juror — Jan 22, 2011

I’m a juror. Whenever anybody asks me why they were rejected, I often say I liked their work but the other jurors must have not. That gets me off the hook and keeps them as friends. In silent or hidden ballot jurying you don’t know anyway as someone else often does the tallying. As a juror I know the pitfalls and that’s why I seldom enter anything into anything.

From: Helen Phyllis Newton — Jan 22, 2011

I like the idea that someone looks at my work and turns it down. It gives me something to improve. It would be nice to know why though.

From: Rached hoyle — Jan 23, 2011

Level playing field it,s not. And never wii be.

From: Frances Poole — Jan 23, 2011

There are different ways to conduct Co-op galleries. The one I belong to juries artists in once, and changes the show periodically with a limit of how many pieces each artist can show. If an artist is good enough to get into the gallery, why keep jurying all of the time? If the work needs so much jurying maybe the original jury needs to be more selective. Having an outside jurer makes everything legitimate and is essential to keeping the peace if one is to operate the way this gallery is operating. I also think selecting work every two weeks is overkill. Killing the volunteers if nothing else. Why not have a show up for say, six weeks, and allow a replacement piece when one sells. Sounds like this gallery needs to shake things up and make some changes for the better of all.

From: Harding — Jan 24, 2011

I once had 2 of 3 jurors tell me in confidence, that they voted for my work, but the other 2 were against, ha, ha, one even gave me a hug. That summarizes the integrity of those things. I decided not to submit my work to people who lie. Another society of which I am a member accepts new members by vote of majority of all present remaining members. This is not bad since it allows the group to evolve over time (although at almost the same painstakingly slow pace as the fauna). As a beginner artist, if you don’t have anything to put on your CV, such groups can be a good starting ground, but only if they have at least a few professional artists in their ranks from whom you can learn something. If it’s just amateurs, then only join if you need socializing and to contribute to the community, that has nothing to do with an art career.

From: Elizabeth Pudsey — Jan 24, 2011

Reading your comments on Art Rental Program, I can tell you from wide and long experience, that Art Sales Rental, does not pay. The odd sale that is made will never make up for the cost of frames that cannot be used again, or need refinishing. Plus even after taking Rental monies, there will be commissions to be paid, usually the same amount found in a gallery. The artist is never the winner, BUT if an artist is new to selling work in the open market, the artist can test the market place, and hopefully gain a sale or two, plus the names of purchasers. Always insist on the names of those who rent or buy you paintings.

From: Harvey Harlib — Jan 24, 2011

I have been reading your column for a few months now and I have been both inspired and befuddled on a few occasions. Generally though, each visit is a chance to learn more of the art form that drives me in so many directions. I just had to say, thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with every artist above and below the Canadian border.

From: Edward Butler — Jan 24, 2011

I can assure you that Robert has thousands of readers in the UK as well. Perhaps more of the silent types. But the advice found in these pages in universal and the fact that a variety of opinions are given permits the reader to judge for himself. I’ll personally thank all who venture their own experience. We have similar problems over here and can well use the advise.

From: Ian James — Jan 24, 2011

Almost by definition galleries do not take an artistic approach. They take artists they can work with for commercial ends. Taste and quality are one thing, but idealism doesn’t work in the commercial world.

From: L. L. Scaglione — Jan 24, 2011

Many public galleries choose to represent and feature work that is cutting edge and unlikely to find anything but the most daring home. By introducing the public to new trends, this is a legitimate service.

From: Bill Skuce — Jan 25, 2011

I love Mark Twain’s def’n of an “expert.” Here’s another I like: “X” is the unknown quantity and “spurt” is a drip under pressure.

From: Rae Smith — Jan 25, 2011

I too have entered paintings at the sales and rentals , and wonder how they decide which painting to accept. Is it a theme they have in mind? who knows.I have had some rejected that I thought were better than the ones accepted.

From: June Raabe — Jan 25, 2011

A very interesting subject, galleries and jurying of art. I belong to an Arts Council Gallery, as a “working artist”. My work was juried for acceptance and I can have 3-4 paintings up at any time for about 3 months. It is an encouragement to keep painting, to have something “new” and hopefully “better”. The town also has a gallery connected to the University, and it also has a rental program. I participated in that and have sold paintings on the “rent to own” system. Primarily this gallery rents out to corporate customers, so most work returns in good condition if not bought by the renter. As to the “jurying in”, the Arts Council, board members serve to jury in new artists work, and to jury for acceptance one man shows. I was recently asked to have a one woman show. Yes, it will cost me, rental of the wall space at $5.00 per foot. Yes, I will also pay commission on anything sold. The gallery advertises the show locally and will print up picture labels, price lists etc. I declined to have an opening night with food because I am handicapped and that’s one social event that doesn’t promote much in the way of sales, but costs the artist for the goodies, tea and coffee! I will be available to talk to people about the show on the days I regulary “sit”. I have sold from this gallery, more than at any other art connection. One art group I belong to was providing art work for decoration in the Health Care centre which morphed from a hospital to a long term residence. Unfortunatlely for us the area Health Association has suddenly erevcted a barricade of impossible rules for “health reasons”. No watercolours, no oils/ We are aghast and are pukling all existing painitings and awaiting further dscussions as to WHY suck prohibitive rules are suddenly needed. Many of our members have sold work exhibited there to familes of the incumbemnts and to staff. By contrast I had a small show last summer in another Health Care Centre kn my home town. No restrictions, The local art council controls the space in the waiting room of a clinic there, No costs, no commissions and I sold one painting! There are NO toys in the waiting room, and NO reading material,”for health reasons”, but you can bring your own book or newspaper if you take it away with you. Apparently the art on the walls is NOT considered a health hazard! For this project the jurying was done, by looking at e-mailed images of my work. In the Arts Council Gallery the main criteria for work is that it be “suitable for family viewing” (nudes but no pornography!) The rules are not as tight as for other venues because as an Arts Council it is there to promote local artists, of all levels, to encourage people to continue. I really enjoy being a member, and “sitting” is worth the half hour journey to get there. This gallery pays only a minimal rent, we are a “grace and favour” establishment, and sometimes get moved when a “profit” business wants the space. At the moment we have another gallery in this mall, a coop that left it’s home mall because of renovations. Lots of friends there, so I drop in to visit. The members have to pay fees, (to share costs of rent etc) and commit to longer shifts than the Arts Council Gallery. I think the mall needs an arts supply shop because people are always asking “where” to get paper, paints,frames etc. There is a commercial gallery in the downtown section, more snobbish and cherry picking what they think will sell best. They charge higher commissions, of course. Most of the time I thoroughly enjoy your letters, always something to learn from your wide readership.Ciao, JR

From: Richard Rudnicki — Jan 26, 2011

I am a professional visual artist who has had paintings sold or rented at this gallery, and I am not satisfied with the way I have been treated. I have no problem submitting my work to a jury of peers and having paintings returned. However, I have submitted paintings to this gallery and had them rejected with, apparently, no rhyme or reason. To have paintings rejected in this manner I find puzzling and vexatious. There seems to be rules being applied arbitrarily and inconsistently, with paintings sometimes accepted and sometimes not. My feeling is that the selection committee is picking paintings they feel will sell, which is there business, but if they want certain paintings and not others then they should tell the artists. Applying mysterious preconditions to the selection process is unfair.

Bringing paintings in feels like a crap shoot. I have been told by staff that certain types of paintings are not usually selected only to find these same kinds of paintings then up for sale. I sometimes find amateurish and low priced paintings on the walls which in my view undermines the livelihood of professionals.

I’ve got a studio full of paintings and I am looking at them and wondering which ones I should bring in for the selection process, but I feel that, given the results of seemingly random and inconsistent rejection, it is a waste of my time and energy, and an insult to my creative ability.

Until things change why should I bring in my perfectly good (in my opinion) paintings only to see them returned?

From: Tetley — Jan 27, 2011

Very interesting conclusion can be made from people’s comments. Artists focused on creativity approach commercial galleries and get frustrated with rules of commerce. Artists focused on sales try to use free community spaces and get frustrated when denied a commercial opportunity. It would probably make more sense to enter sellable art to commercial galleries, and to send free art to Hospitals to cheer up the patients – not make money from them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hospital denied art because of the sales to families of patients, that may not even be legal in some states. Regarding juried shows – art groups are playgrounds for artists, so if you play, there are game rules set by jurors.

From: Liz Reday — Jan 27, 2011

For artists making traditional work who are involved in co-op galleries and art clubs, it might be instructive to understand the administrative part, the judging and jurying end. Just seeing how the whole deal works is an eye opener. Yes, some groups have integrity and try to be honest and open-minded. Others have very strange criteria for who gets in and who doesn’t. Reliable club members who regularly help out and do considerable work as well as gallery sit will find their work up on the wall more often than those who opt out of helping, unless you’re young & hot and everybody loves your work. But then you’d probably be exhibiting in a commercial gallery! Commercial galleries are refreshingly straight forward, only some galleries want their artists complete with lots of prestigious collectors already on the waiting lists for their work and perhaps a number of museum shows under their belts. As artists we need to find any and all places to exhibit our work and not give up if we get rejected. Lots of people need to say no so that at least we know we’re trying and DON’T GIVE UP. It’s the unflagging perseverance that will count in the long run. The more we show, the better the venues will get that will show us. Try different groups if your group is not hanging your work. Try other towns, other states, even other countries. And never stop painting.

 

 

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