As I walked through two large rooms of the Washburn Cultural Center, I gazed at the art exhibit titled “The Gathering” which included stunning drawings, paintings, weavings, original prints, mosaics and sculptures - seventy-four works by members of the Chequamegon Bay Arts Council. Though the show was considered an unjuried show because members of the arts council
were invited to select one or two pieces of their own creations to display, three works would be chosen by a judge to receive awards. Being the judge of this show, how would I be able to select only three pieces to receive monetary awards?
To stand there absorbing all the contrasting colors and textures stimulated my senses. How similar to experiencing autumn in Chequamegon National Forest which surrounds my home - a magical place where vibrant red maples contrast deep green pine needles and rich brown oaks. It would be a challenging, if not impossible task, to choose three trees to receive awards.
In preparation for this difficult task I made guidelines for criteria - a judge’s sheet to rate each work of art. I jotted down points for different categories:
originality - How unique was the work?
medium - How did the artist handle the materials?
composition - How were the components arranged?
presentation - How was the finished piece presented to the viewer?
design - How were principles such as harmony, variety, contrast, balance, movement and dominance/focal point used?
judge’s personal taste - How did the work communicate to me?
As I looked closely at each piece I found myself lingering in front of some longer than others. Those were the ones that spoke to me at a personal level.
Personal taste is a significant part of the selection process. If another judge instead of me walked through this exhibit they would probably select different pieces to receive awards based on their own criteria and personal taste. Therefore, if an artist does not receive an award or if their art is not accepted into a juried exhibit, he/she shouldn’t be discouraged.
The motivation behind creating art should never be to please a judge. I tried that once. I created two pastel paintings and entered slides of their images to a juried show in California where Wolf Kahn was to be a judge. Since I love the blues and purples he uses in the shadows of his landscapes I exaggerated those colors in my own landscapes. Surely he would like those! Much to my dismay I did not have either of those pieces even accepted into the show.
After tallying up individual scores for the works of art, a graphite (pencil) large drawing of a botanical image titled “American Lotus Pods” by Nancy Rainville received the prestigious CBAC - Chequamegon Bay Arts Council Award. Jill Lorenz received a Juror’s Choice Award for her lavender-glazed ceramic sculpture titled House # 11. Ann O’ Nemus received the other Juror’s Choice Award for a large, abstract oil painting titled “Deco Proscenium” which had a balance of darks, lights and movement.
Since three other pieces had also received high scores I received permission from one of the show’s organizers to award those works non-monetary Special Merit Awards. Those went to Judy Hanne Gonzales for her vibrant painting using the medium of gouache depicting chairs titled “Algodones, Mexico;” Jan Wise for “Dreaming with the Moon,” a small, mysterious acrylic painting on canvas; and for a pastel painting “On the Water” by Mary McHugh depicting a figure in a boat in a lush landscape.
I wish I could have given everyone an award of excellence for taking all the steps necessary for creating art: for being receptive to an idea; having the courage to follow through, bringing the idea into form, then delivering the finished works to display in “The Gathering.” They all stimulated my senses and will stay with me for a long time.