Juror’s notes: (Hal Holoun's critique of our show at the Jewish Community Center)
In this exhibition, I enjoyed the diverse approaches in the artists’ works, including the various art mediums as well as the many different approaches and statements in their art.
In judging an exhibition, I do my best to be objective (though this is probably not humanly possible) and try not to seek out works or mediums that I "like," or styles of art that I prefer to view. This exhibit was "open" in that it didn't break down the entries into distinct categories. I think this was a good idea since, as one views the exhibit, there are works that blur the line between distinct categories. This also encourages artists to "think outside the box" and perhaps experiment with new approaches that might lead to new discoveries of self-expression.
That said, in judging I attempt to approach each work on its innate qualities, not thinking about whether it was a "painting," a "photograph," a mixed-media work, etc. I walked through the exhibit several times before beginning to sort out those works that I felt continued to hold their presence – this also allowed me to then see very "quiet" works that didn't catch my attention early on.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of judging an exhibition – attempting to equate the powerful whisper of a subtle work which is mounted near a strong expressive piece. This is why it's so important to take the time in judging to let each work, no matter how soft or so strong, have its own "voice" be heard/seen.
Then, perhaps the second-most difficult part in judging comes in sorting out those works that couldda/shouldda been included in the awards. There were several pieces that filled that description in this exhibition. I gave two "juror's" awards to two pieces and decided to leave it there. I have no doubt that if your group had enlisted a different juror, some awards would have been given to other works.
At the same time, I stand by my choices for the first four awards. Each in their own way carried a strong sense of message, and mastery of the medium in which they were executed. The honorable-mention works were often strong as well, but suffered in minor areas that didn't allow them to reach a higher award level. I think I mentioned in my notes to those artists, in most of those cases, the reasons why I didn't rank their works to the next level.
My next point, with regard to all the entries, involves "presentation." Or, one could call it "framing." Many of the entries in this exhibit were overwhelmed by their framing. I know, I know, framing tastes change over time, but so many works in this exhibit, especially smaller ones, were smothered by their mats/framing. I can relate to this – some years ago, a gallery in Tucson, AZ carried my oil paintings and it was a good relationship over time. But then the owner had to retire and close the gallery due to health issues. Before this, she'd asked that I frame my paintings in deep silver and gilt frames, as that was the fashion in the Southwest. OK – I did that. Then, when she closed, she returned 7-8 paintings back to me with silver and gold frames. I exhibited those works here in the Midwest and I had clients saying, "Well, I like the painting but you can keep the frame." Eventually, I ended up giving my excess frames to a past student whose works could accommo-date these frames.
I think it would be good for your club members to visit galleries in order to get a sense of the changing tastes of the "presentation" of a work of art. Just now, there's a trend for minimal black framing for many oil paintings. I don't especially like that, but at the same time it does allow the painting to call attention to itself, and not to the frame. I've used "floater frames" for years on my paintings because they "surround" the painting and don't attach to it directly.
Framing in photography also tends to toward the minimal. Look at the 2d place winner in this exhibit – the framing is more protective than intending to make any statement. There was another photograph that I considered for an award, but it was weighted down by dense wood/mat framing – I eventually gave it an honorable mention.
Good News from the "Chillin' Winter" Art Show at the JCC- Nancy Ralston sold her scratchboard art piece called "Henry Doorly Zoo's Lizard King". Congratulations Nancy!!