If a tree falls in the forest, what’s in it for me?

blue entry detail
blue entry detail

Yesterday, I submitted three pieces of art to a juried exhibition. It was tough. I’m not used to this any more. Not only could I not decide whether to enter (I never win the prize money), I also couldn’t decide what to enter (I wanted to blow them away and win the prize money). I actually felt sorry for the pieces I didn’t choose (a projection of the fear I have about MY not getting juried in). By choosing which pieces might be accepted, I was rejecting others. I usually avoid scrutinizing my work because I fear I will lose my mojo. And my art has been a spirit-saving form of occupational therapy for me after I retired from commercial art. It’s also a return to the fine arts I hadn’t time to pursue while working full time.

It took me a month to decide to enter. It took me an hour to choose the last of three pieces. The stakes are high. If I choose the right ones I will get at least one in and maybe two like last time. Hard to get three in with so many people submitting. Then there’s the prize money…$200 for 1st prize and several $100 awards. I’ve heard of $10,000 prizes for juried shows back east. But in my desert town, the chance to exhibit at all is incentive enough. A little cash buys a good meal out.

Here’s how I chose the last piece (a blue one).

  1. Everybody likes blue
  2. The color and design still drew you in from a distance of about 40 feet
  3. It is my husband’s favorite and he’s hard to impress unless there is a car in the picture.

I hurried them over to submit. I felt good about the blue piece after the artist in line behind me liked it. I felt even better after I saw it in museum lighting. And I was right, blue is a very compelling color.

Now that it’s done, I know I’d rather exhibit than not. So I’ll do my best to show more this year and get more involved. It might even help me get into the studio more often. I’ve found that unless I exhibit, my desire to work diminishes. That’s odd too because once in philosophy class I swore that I would paint whether I had an audience or not (I was very young). It was a tree-falling-in-the-forest question. Now that I have spent 3 1/2 years working in the studio and not exhibiting (only one small showing), I know that even though the urge to create seems to come from beyond ego, my ego wants validation, appreciation, and connection… money is nice too.

I wasn’t accepted into the show. It’s a good thing, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. After a couple of weeks I went to see the show. It is a collection of very traditional art. I guess the juror came out to “the country” and decided that represents our area, or that people here would be more comfortable with that or expect it? There are some good pieces. There are some poorly done pieces too though. Out of 500 entries, the juror chose 150 or something like that. Puzzling, because this juror was jurying an exhibition of photos of Andy Warhol at the same time. I just wish they had realized there are a lot of dynamic, contemporary artists and patrons here who would enjoy something more stimulating than Joshua trees. Please, someone, transport me to a town that is in the 21st century.
(see The wait is over)

2 thoughts on “If a tree falls in the forest, what’s in it for me?

  1. Big up respect for going through with it!

    This is kind of spooky as I also wrestled with a competition today but came to a different conclusion – but I’ll not fill up your space with my stuff.

    Even if you don’t win, at least your art will have been presented in a great place with great lighting, and enjoyed by other people.

    And blue is my favourite colour :oD

  2. Thank you again Emma, for the cheerleading. And you may as well fill up my space with your stuff as it’s still pretty lonely here!

    I’m thrilled to exhibit because I do get good feedback. So nothing ventured, nothing gained in this case.

    I’ll let you know the outcome.

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