I was recently asked to jury a show at Core New Art Space, a co-op gallery I used to be a member of in the 80’s. The show’s theme was “Horizontal Line”. Here are some thoughts from a Juror’s Statement I wrote for the entrants and show-goers.
Jurying a show (my first time solo) is fun and tough. Fun, in that there was a lot of great work, and I’m sure I’ll be meeting new artists at Friday night’s opening at Core New Art Space.
Tough, as I had to leave out a lot of work I did like to create a tight and focussed show, which was a priority. Above is a teaser photo. This was taken just after jurying finished, so any work glimpsed here is in the show.
One can never explicate a set of hard and fast rules for such a time-specific and ad-hoc process as jurying a show. It is common to say that jurying is subjective, and not so common to explain how that affects a given set of choices, so I’ll address that here. My objective was to give a good accounting of work that engaged the theme “Horizontal Line” in the context of a professionally presented art show. If work engaged the theme in an original and professionally adept way, I wanted it in the show. If it failed on some level, I wanted it out. A complementary concern was to find a show that fit the space well, and that created some very tough decisions.
In addition to work that thematically or technically excelled and which I juried in immediately; or alternatively, work juried out quickly as it fell short of the mark; There was a t least 50% of the work that required a real decision on my part. I’ll give you some of my intentions, and beliefs and define some terms here to illuminate that process.
As to theme, I confess to a bias in favor of metaphor and visual complexity, as I tried to outline on my own and Core’s Facebook pages: “‘Horizontal Line’ is a very simple theme but carries complex implications, including landscape, narrative and time. I’ll be looking for entries that have thematic energy…”. So some entries were well presented and fit the theme in a basic way, but were left out in favor of more complex works that presented narrative or visual metaphor. This is defined as complex colors that communicated tension or ambiguity, surprising or subversive forms within the theme, or hidden narratives. However, I’ll admit to inconsistency here, in that there were a couple of pieces that were somewhat tangential to the theme, whose strength in conception and execution made them impossible to leave out, no matter how many times I tried.
Technical concerns: Core New Art Space has been around for 30-plus years, and has presented a lot of young artists early in their careers, including me. Though work with marginal presentation or technical skills is always welcome if it is thematically strong, I recommend self-jurying your own work before entering. Then devote more time and resources to conception, presentation, and materials and enter fewer, stronger works. It’s good to try a number of shows, yes, but three pieces that are marginally presented and tangential to the theme aren’t better than one that engages the theme and is attractively presented.
Also, I believe larger work, though it’s often hard to sell in this city often provides the best route to developing and finishing an idea. This can be seen in my choices for “Best of Show” ( not a hard choice; its sense of narrative from an idealized, abstract, distant horizon to an all too real foreground fenceline ), and “Honorable Mention” another large piece with a real sense of depth and conceptual resolution. Many smaller pieces in the show might’ve made honorable mention, but I decided on only one.
Thanks to all that entered, even those who were not included. I could well have made a second, smaller, non-thematic show that is just as attractive. Thanks to Core members who left me alone to make my own decisions and mistakes. I’ll discuss and advocate for work in the show at a Gallery talk at 3 Pm, Sunday July 28. It will be hard for me to comment on work not in front of me, but I’ll be happy to dialog about the show and theme in general.