Thoughts about Entering Art Shows

Thoughts about Entering Art Shows

This time of year local art associations send out Annual Show notices to those on their email lists. I remember the ritual of deciding what to enter, getting it ready, and taking it on the receiving day to the designated place. It was fun to see friends working the tables, or bringing their own entries.

The second part of the ritual, which happened occasionally, was picking work up that was not chosen for the show. But this all changed when electronic entry became common.

Electronic entry makes things so easy to enter shows. You don’t have to haul things about. You can easily enter shows all over the country without shipping your work. No tags to fill in and secure to the back of the frame, no multiple copies of inventory lists.

Of course, you don’t get a peek at the competition as you drop off your work.

I used the electronic entry for several years with good success. But I noticed that something about the art shows changed. One year, at one local show more than fifty percent of the selected items were photography, and the remaining pieces were all the other mediums: oil, watercolor, pastel, drawing/graphics, 3-d, and sculptural.

Another year, photos in the newspaper of the Best of Show used the digital entry photo which appeared to be violet, but when I saw the item in the show it was a graphite drawing, and the frame gave it a whole different feeling.



And I found that my work was being

accepted less often, especially if I entered

one of my sculptural baskets like this:

So last year I didn’t enter anything in the local shows. But I did enter this basket in the California State Fair, where you still take the work to be seen by the judge. It was accepted and won a Second Place ribbon.


The last time one of the local groups had their annual show at Stockton’s Art Museum I didn’t enter, but I went to the opening. The judge selected the winners of prizes based on the digital entries. He never saw the actual work.

I remember trying to find something in the show that was outstanding. A piece that had that WOW factor. There was one piece that had me trying to figure out how it had been created, but over all I was not impressed with the show.

The group’s gallery director walked by and asked me how I liked the show, and I didn’t really have an answer. I said something like “I’m still looking.” As he hurried away, he said he thought it was the worst show they had ever put on. I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.

I think digital entry is a wonderful improvement over slides and hand-carry to enter your work, but I also think the actual work should be viewed when the awards are selected.

When I was at the art museum in Albuquerque last November, I saw a number of original works by artists in the 1960’s including Feininger, de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. Seeing work by these artists in books had not left a positive impression on me. Standing right in front of them made all the difference in size and detail. I could see and understand why their work has been preserved.






One thought on “Thoughts about Entering Art Shows

  1. What better…a photograph of a photograph to judge the real thing. Or is it the real thing? A photo of 3D work is missing the very essence of the work. V

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