Friday, January 22, 2010


Q: I was recently disappointed by a rejection from a juried show. I was sure I had a good chance after seeing what others had brought in. It will be interesting to see what they hang.

A: Sorry to hear about your rejection. The odds are that you will be rejected more often than you will be accepted, no matter how good your work is. Some of this is simply luck. For instance, there may be more than 1000 entries. Sometimes there are many more. If you have submitted, say, a landscape, but there are 100 other landscapes before the jurors get to yours, they may be past the point where they simply don't want to accept any more landscapes. Or they may be visually exhausted by the time they get to yours. Looking at 400 images and making a decision about each one is hard work. Looking at four times that many leaves your eyes and brain spinning.

But that's just the way it goes. Not every top effort brings success. The best big league baseball player rarely gets on base more than four times out of ten. He scores a run something like less than 1 out of 15. When you count balls that he swings at and misses, that ratio probably drops to 1 out of 30.

Another reason artists are rejected when their work is up to par is that they fail to follow directions adequately.( I'm not saying that was true in your case, but it is something to be especially aware of.) Thus, their work never even gets seen by the jury. It is disqualified and the entry fee is kept. From the artist's point of view, this is unfair. But the organization simply doesn't have the time to deal with making the corrections or figuring out what the artist meant to do. And they can't take the chance of changing something, because the change might negatively affect the artist's entry and they would, rightly, be held responsible for it. So you always have to double check -- maybe even triple check -- the prospectus and what you are entering.

In general, entering juried shows should be approached as a learning experience, not a one-time stab. What kinds of shows do you do best with? What kinds of jurors (teachers, active artists, curators, painters, photographers, etc.). What particular jurors? Keep records and review them often.

And, good luck, always.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vanity Gallery ICO Holds Another "Contest"

Ico Gallery, a business in NYC, runs various, "contests." Their latest, Emerging Artist Competition (Star Search), is run as part of one of their sites, ArtiFacTorYNYC. Entry is free. Winners "will be given the opportunity to be included in a collective exhibition at Ico Gallery's ground floor Chelsea gallery." One winner will be "given the opportunity to exhibit at Ico Galley during our 2010-2011 calendar." Implies a solo show, but could be anything. In any case, it is the opportunity to pay for it that you win, not the thing itself.

And what does "opportunity to be included" mean? Why, it means, that for a substantial fee -- $200-400, according to one artist who contacted us -- you will have your work shown along wlth others who either have plenty of money to burn or have no idea how the real art world works. So entry is free but acceptance is very expensive.

Ico Gallery twice tried to have AOM list their contest for free by falsely claiming on our submission form that they are a non-profit organization -- instead of paying $6/line for a classified ad. When I wrote to ask if accepted artists were charged to show their work, I got only the curt reply, "All of the information can be found on the contest rules page."

Indeed it can. Almost. But it is written in a way intended to mislead the inexperienced and recognition-needy. "Given the opportunity to be included" is not the same as included. I wonder if they are also offering the "opportunity to include the Brooklyn Bridge as one of your most prized possessions."

One good way to recognize a vanity gallery is to look at the work shown. Almost without exception, the work is not professional quality. Also, there are usually fairly prominent pictures of the individual artists. They tend to be of a certain type, although I cannot articulate it. I'm waiting for someone to do a series of portraits of people who routinely show their work in vanity galleries. To complete the concept, should the results be shown in a vanity gallery?