Wherein a primer of sorts is offered for the extremely slight edification of the reader
The Juried Show
Artists submit images of work and, if they’re super lucky, a piece or two gets juried into the show. There’s no free pass – artists must re-submit again each year in the hopes of getting in. Shows usually denote the poor bastards who will be judging (guaranteeing their names will be taken in vain) so the artist can decide if she has a hope in hell of that judge liking her work. An enlightened and relatively rare species of exhibition; examples include Birds in Art, CM Russell Auction, and the late and lamented Arts for the Parks, which juried ‘blind’ – AFTP didn’t want to see the artist’s signature on the slide, so judging could (presumably) be impartial. Of course, if an artist didn’t get in, ‘blind judging’ could take on another meaning (“how did that drek get in over my masterpiece?!”).
The Juried Membership Show
These shows up the ante by requiring that artists who submit work for jurying first become associate members of the organization. Becoming an associate member is usually as simple as writing a check and providing some images to show that the artist can do more than draw stick figures. Examples include OPA (Oil Painters of America) and Society of Animal Artists. Signature membership in these organizations is reserved only for those who have proven their worth by jurying into a bunch of shows or perhaps performing some other promethean task (eg, getting Congress to agree on anything). The value of being a Signature member of these things is a bit unclear, since the alphabet soup of organization acronyms available (eg, “Jane Doe, SAA, OPA, NWS, AAEA, AAWA, LSD, IOU…”) most likely simply promotes collector puzzlement, eyestrain, or both.
The Invitational Show
This category includes shows like Prix de West, Masters of the American West, the Buffalo Bill, etc. How an artist gets into any of these is a mystery of the cosmos, and probably involves animal sacrifice and other arcane rituals. Artists submit images to an anonymous committee somewhere, whose rules of judging are Top Secret and are kept locked in a vault like the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. If your name is Howard Terpning, you’re invited in, and you’re in for life – you don’t need to be re-juried each year. Otherwise, the artist can count on receiving a short letter on nice museum or show letterhead that says
We were overwhelmed with quality submissions this year, and due to the very limited number of available slots in our exhibition [read: none of our existing artists died last year], we are sorry to inform you that your work was not included. This is not cause for you to commit suicide, but it would probably be best if you didn’t bother submitting to us in the future. It’ll save time and expensive stationery for us, and false hope for you.”
…or words to similar effect.
This is especially true if the artist was foolish enough to be born with two X chromosomes instead of the all-important XY. Which brings us to…
The Blatantly Biased Membership Show
Apparently, having mammary glands means that an artist is forever doomed to create substandard work, and this line of thinking is nowhere more popular than with the membership group whose name is (pointedly) NOT “Cowgirl Artists of America”. Perhaps these artists, who are elite by virtue of being able to urinate without lowering their pants, believe that boobs simply get in the way of the brushes. Or that wearing a bra constricts an artist’s creativity (a point I might concede, given some of the torture devices that pass as bras). Maybe if women artists followed the legendary Amazon model of cutting off a breast so it doesn’t interfere with the bow (or brush), these arguments could be subverted. If only I were dedicated enough…
Then again, maybe it’s just that jamming a cowhat down onto one’s forehead cuts off circulation to the brain . . . nah.
Tags: art show