Oil Painters of America announces the winning entries for its Western Regional Juried Exhibit and Sale.
Attending art shows and their related competitions brings to mind the life of the woodchuck. Like these critters, we spend a great deal of our time underground attending to our creations; I’m speaking here, of course, of the amount of time we spend in the studio. Occasionally we’ll pop up, gather what we need, assess our surroundings and our place in it, only to dive back into our quiet comfortable environment to continue our work.
Well, the woodchucks were out in force at the Oil Painters of America Western Regional opening reception September 6, 2013, at SouthWind Gallery in Topeka, Kansas. What a show it was! I am always amazed by the quality of work being done today. A big ‘Thank You’ to Gary Blitsch and his staff at SouthWind for hosting this beautiful show…and to OPA for its continued effort to promote the best of representational art.
It was a great to see old friends and make new ones. It was nice having the opportunity to visit with OPA Vice President, Ken Cadwallader and Executive Director, Kathryn Beligratis. It was also a special honor to meet Ned Mueller, juror of awards. He did an excellent job, and from what I hear, really took time to carefully consider the qualities of each piece…spending more than a day making those judgments. I love it when a juror takes that job seriously. Artists spend considerable time creating their works; a juror should respect that by carefully giving each piece serious consideration. Making judgments about paintings that are already at a high level is not an easy task; I wanted to get Mueller’s take on the topic. He kindly agreed to a short interview.
What makes a good juror? I think a good juror ideally would be someone who is knowledgeable about Art..broadminded and open-minded…not so easy. I think that good, accomplished artists know about art and I would think that if there are multiple judges, certainly it should include some accomplished artists. I think judges need to be as objective as they can be, but the reality is that subjective thinking, personal taste and attitudes are bound to affect one’s decisions. Different judges are bound to make different choices, but at the same time may agree on certain paintings. There is no perfect process and it is very difficult to be a judge..one does their best and it is certainly not always fair.
When you look at paintings, what do you look for? When I judge a show I look for a combination of things…something well executed and with a good idea or concept. I try to be as objective as I can, but eventually one’s taste and prejudices are more than likely going to enter the equation.
Does subject tend to influence your decisions at all? I think that subject does not affect me as much as looking for a great work of art..be it a landscape, figure or still life. I think that the principles of art apply to whatever subject you may choose to paint. I paint a wide range of subjects and so I may be more open minded in this regard.
Some artists think the juror will only select that which reflects his/her own work. How do you overcome that possibility? Here again, I try to be as open minded and objective as I can. I have juried shows in which I gave awards to very classical, traditional, impressionistic and also, abstract paintings.
During your comments at the OPA reception, you made a distinction between competition paintings and those submitted to galleries. Please explain. I usually tell my students that, generally speaking, paintings that sell in most galleries appeal to the more popular tastes. One might consider this when sending paintings to a gallery; those they enter in juried shows should be a little more experimental and different, as I think artists think differently than the average collector and most good jurors have seen it all and are looking for something different or unusual. There certainly are galleries that feature more creative works, but in the main, I think that I have a good point. There again, ideally the painting is exquisitely executed and a great idea or concept. I recently won a big award in a national show depicting an alley scene..garbage cans, dumpsters, broken rock, etc. It is not unusual for artists to vote for their favorite paintings in a show and those invariably do not sell…pretty heartbreaking for all of us!
Why is it good to enter art shows/competitions? I think it is good to enter shows just to kind of see where our work stands compared to others..certainly not always a fair or objective situation..but then what is. One gets exposure to a whole lot of different people and people do connect with your name and your work. I have always been a bit of a competitive person…got a lot of that from all my sport exploits..and it does not always equate so well when it comes to art..but I think it is fun in a way..although still a bummer when one is rejected or does get an award.
What advice do you have for those entering shows? For entering shows I think that you can go back to what I said earlier. It’s important to enter your best pieces in a juried show…the competition is usually pretty stiff and you need to put your best foot forward.
Here are Ned Mueller’s favorite pieces from the show:
Well, there you have it…another beautiful Oil Painters of America Show. Congratulations to all the winners.
It is good to be back home. I really don’t enjoy traveling. Oh, I enjoy arriving at the destination, I just don’t enjoy the gettin’ there and the gettin’ back…no matter how that’s accomplished. If we drive, there’s two things we hope to find: 1) Great scenery 2) A room with a view. We found both on our way to Topeka.
This little woodchuck is heading back into his hole until the next show.
You’ll find these websites worth your time:
John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his work and bio, please click HERE
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