I was invited to be a juror on September 1 for an exhibition at the Art Center Manatee in Bradenton. One hundred and fifty-one artists responded to the open invitation to all media on the theme “Create.” I judged more than half of the entries online while the remaining artwork was brought to the gallery in Bradenton for me to choose the final participants and eight awards. I’m not used to selecting artwork online, and I wasn’t comfortable with this process. I couldn’t observe the piece about its dimensions or closely examine the mediums or originality of the images. One painting was selected online that looked like it could maybe a three-foot-long painting. To my surprise, when I saw it in the gallery was a massive six-ft. painting! Does this mean I would not have selected it? Maybe not; the more extensive scale alters the whole composition to a different dimension making the images unintentionally distorted. Observing the painting technique was also more visible in the gallery, and I considered it sloppy. But the artist had been notified of its acceptance, so that I couldn’t change my mind.
By being present in the gallery, I could make a more professional assessment of the entries. Looking more closely and examining the entries more carefully, observing texture, size, technique, and image gave me a more imperative reason to reject or accept the entry. I chose a diverse selection of drawings, watercolor, oils, acrylics, glass craft ware, and sculptures which numbered about 65 artists (that’s a guess) from the Tampa Bay area.
Three outstanding paintings immediately caught my attention and received the top awards.
My first choice for the top award was “Cake Mix,” a painting by Carla Rudolph. In this work, she portrays a delighted young girl stuffed into a grocery carriage with her white sneakers sticking up over the edge. The expression on her face was one of hilarious laughter because she got a deal on a box of cake mix. Rudolph’s loosely painting style and color choices contribute to the hilarious mood of the painting.
Second place went to Lindsay’s “Petunia,” in which she paints a life-size white goat staring straight at the viewer, chewing a green-type plant hanging from its mouth. The goat practically covers the collaged background in which Lindsay uses a myriad of 1” by 1” squares of greenery. The location of the image intrigued me. Her painting also had a humorous mood because the cocky goat seemed to have just eaten through a garden of vegetables, and he didn’t care. I know this from experience because goats eat everything green down to the ground.
Third place went to Kinder Knecht’s abstract painting, “Prayers Riding the Thermals.” She paints large spaces depicting what might seem to be a flat desert-like landscape or perhaps a sizeable dry field of a rich earth tone with thin dividing lines of color projecting the eye into the middle of the composition portraying another significant area of off-white shape space with whims of color like flying kites or maybe prayers as the title suggests.
Being a juror is very often subjective. However, as a professional artist and years of experience creating in different media, viewing many exhibitions, and judging artwork, I look for unique images. So often today, an image can be easily copied from the internet, so I look for an original idea, a creative approach to how it is painted or sculpted, and composition and techniques or a particular concept. An artwork’s mood is essential; do they use intentional colors or materials to create a mood?
Being a juror, I can observe who and what is being shown around the Tampa Bay area. Anyone can enter an open call to artists, but not everyone is chosen or selected to receive an award. The aim is to choose the outstanding work that is comprehensive in thought and technique; unique in its ability to persuade the jury that it is authentic and on a professional level to be included into an exhibition.
You can check out ‘Create,” which opened Sept. 7 artcentermanatee.org.