Going Home

A couple of months ago I got a call from a board member of the Mill Valley Art Festival asking me if I wanted to be a juror for this year’s exhibit. This was very interesting since my attempts to get into the festival have consistently failed.  Even though I now live in Colorado, my wife convinced me that I should fly back to Marin and be a juror.  She thought I could make some good connections and see the jurying from the other side.

I’d lived in Marin County, CA for over 25 years and I’ve only been in Colorado a little over a year and this was the first time I was back. What a beautiful time to be in the Bay Area.  Spring is in full bloom.  Everything is lush and green.  The skies are clear and it’s in the 70s.  Did I make a mistake by leaving?  

Two other artists and I did the jurying for “fine art”.  It was very instructive to be on the other side.  We worked through the web site Zapplication.  We would look at 5 works of an artist and then we’d have to rate them from 1-7.  I’m always uncomfortable picking things for juries and I saw how important it is to carefully put together a presentation instead of what I usually do — throw together some images that I like at the moment.  I would often see three works in a particular style and two others that were different.  Was the artist an amateur who hadn’t developed a style or were they accomplished and had a broad range?  From five jpegs, it was very hard to tell.  I realized that that I had probably presented myself the same way for many events and then wondered why I didn’t get chosen.  I’ll be much more careful how I present myself in the future.  

What was even more instructive was how my choices differed from the other two jurors.  We weren’t supposed to talk during the jurying, but we’d take breaks between art forms like painting and sculpture and talk about a particular artist whose work made an impression on us.  Invariably my opinions were the direct opposite of the other two.  What they thought was refreshing and new, I found uninspiring and vice versa.

I can’t say for sure, but I expect that if I weren’t a juror and instead applied to this art fair, even with a consistent presentation, I probably wouldn’t get in again.  I realized that Marin County is not my place to be an artist and that I seem to fit in much better in my current home in Boulder, CO.  

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~ by danbaumbach on May 3, 2011.

10 Responses to “Going Home”

  1. Interesting read, Dan. Just out of curiosity, what do you feel is different about Boulder that you “fit in” so much better? Do you think the local art culture more open to traditional depictions be beauty?

    Stunning photograph by the way.

    • Thanks, Joel.

      This was taken on Azaela Hill, one of my Marin Haunts.

      I can’t say that the local art culture wasn’t open to traditional depictions of beauty. It just wasn’t open to my depictions. I’ve seen Rodney Lough at the Mill Valley Art Festival selling photos like hot cakes. It appears that Boulder residents might be more sensitive to my interpretation. We’ll see.

  2. Interesting thoughts, Dan. FWIW, Bruce Baker’s CD ‘Your Slides & The Jury’ might be very helpful to you and your readers. http://www.bbakerinc.com/ In fact, all three of his CD’s are very instructive and educational for anyone that exhibits in festivals.

  3. That’s a beautiful color image. We’ve talked about the high quality of your work and the lack of good landscape photography in Colorado too, though. Weren’t you having some challenges relating or getting into the juried exhibitions here as well? I do not ask by way of critique of your approach or your work, which I have said is excellent, but mainly to understand more clearly.

    • David,

      The turnout I got for Boulder Open Studios was very good and so were sales. I’ll be doing Boulder Open Studios again this fall. We’ll see. I don’t know for sure but I hope that things are better here.

      – Dan

  4. You were back in town??!!! What an honour to be a juror, although very interesting to read your thoughts on it. Interesting how your feelings about the images vrs the other jurors were so different…I am very intimidated by exhibitions… I am happy for you that you have found a better artistic fit for yourself in Boulder 🙂

    • Amber,

      I was only in town for a couple of days and never made it to SF. We’ll have to meet in the flesh some time in the future.

      – Dan.

  5. Those are interesting experiences you are, Dan. I’ve read that competitions don’t really reveal much because as with any committee, the work with the lowest common denominator wins not the edgiest.

  6. I love the image.

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