You Be The Judge

I’m trying to decide how I can say this without it sounding like sour grapes. When an artist enters an art show sponsored by a local art organization to which the artist does not belong, is it too much to ask that the judging be non-partial?
My recent experience entering the Titusville Artist League’s Annual Spring Show was somewhere between frustrating and maddening. I don’t belong to the organization because Titusville is an hour away and I wouldn’t be able to be active. Knowing this I didn’t feel right in joining just get get a reduced rate on the entry fee, which was quite steep – $25 per painting (I brought three) which came as a bit of a shock because I thought it was $25 total. But no, problem, I’m sure I just misread the instructions. It happens occasionally. The show was being held in a hotel on the beach which seemed like a fairly good location. It was only to hang a weekend, so we arrived shortly before closing time to view the show and take my pieces home. There were some very nice works being displayed. Some of the sculpture was particularly well executed. There were also some very poorly rendered works. In one category in particular there were several pieces that were quite amateurish and others that were rendered with a much greater degree of skill. The student grade pieces were given awards. Lest you think that I’m just upset that I didn’t win, let me add that this was not my category, but I did feel frustrated for the other artists who did display in this category. That wasn’t the only instance where I felt that the judging lacked professionalism. Over and over we saw superior pieces overlooked in favor of the mediocre to poor. I understand that judging art is a subjective process, but there are some basic signs of proficiency that are usually obvious to even the casual observer. So, what’s going on here? Was the judge related to the beginners? Or perhaps they were determined to give their members and or friends a boost? The only thing they accomplished in my opinion was to destroy their credibility as a professionally run art show.
Please, if you want to hold an art show and invite artists not belonging to your organization at least make an attempt at the appearance of fairness. Let’s promote excellence and encourage each other, not promote mediocrity to the discouragement of the more accomplished.
What do you think? Post a comment if you disagree or have had a similar experience.

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