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#14

Jurying inside the lines for
the
Outside The Lines Show

The crowd gathered for the awards ceremon

Outside The Lines 4 opened at the Bath House Cultural Center June 5, through June 26, 2004. The competitive exhibition was juried by sculptor and former Texas Sculpture Association Vice-President Terri Stone; writer, photographer, DallasArtsRevue publisher and one of the winners of last year's OTL competition JR Compton; and artist and Humanities instructor at Richland College Sara Cardona.

The selected artists included Jeanet Dreskin-Haig, Tony Collins, Dean Corbitt, Sheila Cunningham, Dan Hatzenbuehler, Sarah Hauser, Ann Huey, Sonia King, Laurieann Lepper Dygowski, Jay Maggio, Clarissa Mapes, Michele Mikesell, Cristina Nava, Dennis & Ramona Placke, Kate Schatz, Edward Setina, Ginger Strand, Brooks Tower and Bill White.
 

Jurying   Judging   Judicial Feedback

Judging

We determined the two honorable mentions and two prize winners by unanimous decision from the actual work just before the opening. First and second awards were obvious, to us.

Kate Schatz' Bending With the Wind (below) looked even better in real life than it had in jurying slides. It was our clear choice for first place, although some questioned how much of her art was selecting the piece of wood and how much actually sculpting it. I liked that it was Bois d'arc, a native Dallas wood, and that it invited fondling, which I did.

Some of us had difficulty determining from the slides exactly what the "tape measure" poem piece would actually look like, although I was already its biggest fan.

Dennis & Ramona Placke's poetic She

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When we saw it, however, all doubts evaporated, although we would have preferred sharper lighting or a gallery floor that didn't absorb all its shadows. I have still not read the poem, but having its lyrical phrases floating around that bending, angled, free floating surface was lovely. Its own, meandering line, outside any need for others.

The two winners seemed predestined by their superb placement in the big center of the room. It would almost have been embarassing if they hadn't won.

The Honorable Mentions were more difficult choices.

I favored Dan Hatzenbuehler's Sancho Panza Y Don Quixote inkjet print on canvas, but other judges worried it was too easily created (meaning via fractal software, I suppose — an odd sort of new media descrimination — like art has to be difficult?).
 

Inspired placement: Dan Hatzenbuehler's Sancho Panza Y
Don Quixote
and Jeanet Dreskin-Haig's Land Form I

 

The slide of Laurieann Dygowski's colorful acrylic landscape monoprint had thrilled us, and we liked its wild informality and presentation as a torn-out spiral sketch page. But the actual piece lacked the dense intensity and excitement — an interesting case of the slide looking better than the piece.

We also liked Dean Corbitt's graphic drawing for its sewn and loose threads, although the work itself lacked the planar dimensionality we thought we'd seen in the slide.

Naturally, we thought we would like everything in the show, since we juried them all in. And it is interesting to note that four of the five winners are women.

But there were a few disappointments.

Edward Satina - Machanical Pencil

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As entranced as we were by the notion of Edward Satina's seemingly mysterious, spinning pencil entry, none of us cared for that loud, wall shaking, attention-demanding monster. It was impossible to keep other pieces on that wall straight with that noisy thing vibrating constantly. Thankfully, somebody pulled the plug during the awards presentations.

A piece that I'd fought for, hoping it would look as exciting in real life as I thought it did on film, just didn't do much when I saw it. Another painting that had excited several of us in the preview, looked like old hat, 50s style abstraction.

 

Michele Mikesell - Up All Night

 

I liked Michele Mikesell's large Up All Night industrial enamel and oil giraffe painting well enough. Although it never seemed all that avant, it was colorful, large and textural. One juror, however, thought it was fabulous from the first moment she saw it.

 

Clarissa Mapes - Mum for Dad

 

The other juror championed this amazing piece. There was never any doubt that Clarissa Mapes' Mum for Dad was one strange bird. We all admired its craftsmanship, oddly gathered media and untraditional, X-form presentation. No way could we overlook its other-planetary position, replete of asterisking straight lines, yet far from any of the usual ones.


 

Judicial Feedback

I always feel silly at awards presentation ceremonies anyway, so I wandered around the crowd taking a long series of blurry pictures that don't even approximate art.

I'd netted one of the Honorable Mentions last year, and I was disappointed not to get to enter this year. I have some pieces I think are outside most lines. But ya just never know what some fool jury will select.

Jurying and judging the event was fun and fascinating, and I always expected to write about it, although I did not get anyone's permission. 

I was, however, the only juror to stay through opening reception to the ceremony. I had hoped some artists would be brave enough to come talk with me. I would have enjoyed talking with the artists who got in, did not get in, who won and didn't.

I was there, available and eager. But not a single artist I did not already know approached me during all that time. And Enrique had pointed me out during the awarding.

I know artists have much to learn about competitive shows, even from the mediocre ones (jurors, artists or shows), which is part of why I wrote this story.

I have learned from jurors I've asked questions of — in shows my work got in and those where I was rejected — er, "declined." But nobody learns when nobody asks or thinks they can.

Perhaps the Bath House, being such a great little community art crossroads, should build some sort of juror feedback into the process. But only if artists are interested...

E-mail me with your opinions. Thanks. -JRC

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Jurying

Jurors Terri, Sara and I sat in the front row of the center's auditorium on May 18, as gallery director Enrique Cervantes operated the slide projector on a table directly in front of us. The screen was about ten feet in front of that. Behind us sat two gallery assistants.

The process was scheduled for 7-9 pm. We started about ten minutes late but finished ten minutes early. Each juror had a list of all submitted pieces, listed by title, medium and size. The house lights were dimmed, not dark.

We were subdued for our first run through, as Enrique clipped through all 170+ slides to familiarize us with all the work submitted for the annual show, and we began to formulate our opinions.

During the second go-through, we got more engaged. I probably annoyed the other two by piping up whenever I recognized an artist's work or I'd had business dealings with submitting artists. I wanted my prejudices to be obvious. Although gradually all of ours became more so. If I recognized a piece, I'd hold back judgement till the other two voiced their opinions.

I'll have to admit, however, that I was startled by some of the names on the list of accepted artists. I think I should have been able to recognize work by more of those artists, and I flat did not.

We had differnent ideas about what was important. Some jurors were keen to have a representative percentage of different media, and some of us flat didn't care. We were remarkably apart on some selections and of one mind about others. It was a fascinating two-hour process.

My choices were often negated by both other jurors, and we just went on to the next slide — although at other junctures we extensively discussed individual pieces or pairings. As a group, we seemed to especially like pairs of work, although not always.

I had raised the possibility of each of us reserving one wild card choice, but neither of the other jurors responded.

If none of us spoke up for a piece, it did not advance to the final round.

There was much yaying and naying and disappointment about the quality of the submitted slides and wondering out loud what those pieces might really look like. Sculpture especially suffered. Often we simply could not make sense of the slides, and those pieces did not make the cut.

 

Kate Shatz - Bending with the Wind

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Sometimes Enrique had seen the work and was able to answer our questions. I remember one piece I championed that was shot indoors with outdoor film, and looked reddish and dark, but Enrique confirmed that it was actually white. Apparently he had seen a lot of the work we had questions about.

The final round took the longest, and there was a lot of give and take among the jurors. Some 'I'll go for this one, if you'll go for that one,' and much polite arguing, cajoling and discussion of aesthetic merits. We were cordial throughout.

In the end, and not at all because the show space would be limited by the museum construction that would block use of the hallway or back galleries, we agreed on 25 pieces to be hung in the main gallery — less than a 15% acceptance rate.

Much of the work we declined was probably good enough but not outside enough lines.

Others were so far beyond, we had difficulty figuring out what was going on. We declined all work we recognized from previous Bath House exhibitions.

A zoom lens on the projectior would have been helpful to see some slide details. As it was, we'd just get up and go stand in front of the screen, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn't help much.

Many of the slides were shot at odd angles, and one was completely out of focus — can you imagine the frustration that led to sending that slide? As an old deadline-smudger, I sure can.

The Mapes and Mikesell photographs
originated on the Bath House web site,
but I hope to get by the Bath House soon
to take more photographs for this story.

As always, DARts seeks your feedback, signed
or unsigned, positive, negative or whatever.

All contents Copyright 2004 by JR Compton
No Reproduction in any analog or digital form
Without explicit, written permission
from DARts Editor/Publisher JR Compton.

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