Posts Tagged ‘juried art shows’

Crazy? Maybe Yes, Maybe No……

So.

Crossroads.

Had dinner last night with a really good friend to discover she had a rough week, nearly turned upside-down. And her former boss has medical problems (like being the 179th case of an artery problem since 1745). All of a sudden my depression didn’t seem that all important. And I left dinner feeling hugely better and came home to hit the machine for an hour, making good progress on a new small piece.

This was the culmination of about a week of wondering if my art quilt had made it into a fairly prestigious show. Antsy for the whole week, as I knew all the decisions had been made, and I was wondering why we hadn’t heard anything. I was trying to stay positive, as I believe if we send negative thoughts out into the universe, we will be repaid with negativity. Hard to do when I already was 0 for 2 in submitting work this year. I kept thinking “third time’s the charm.”

At 4 PM I had the email. Not good news. Very nice rejection letter – I’ve had loads of those over the years, especially in writing. The very first fiber show I entered I was accepted in, and I think had I been able to keep up creating work without having to worry about a teaching load, I would be in better shape as an artist, with many more shows on the resume. But that was not to be. I looked at the accepted list, and it seemed like it wasn’t the same-ole same-ole list of people who always make it into shows. That was encouraging, at least. Out of 128 entries, 20 were accepted.

Once I heard that, instead of feeling better, I think I got a little angry. Had I known that so few pieces were going to be accepted, I really don’t think I would have entered and saved the 40 bucks. The odds are definitely against you with those numbers.

The thing is, I do think this piece is exceptional. It’s unlike anything I’ve done so far, and it certainly met the theme – I felt it did. Your reaction to the stigma of mental illness. Have suffered from depression and needing drugs to help me through the last years of teaching, I know how the brain can react in stress situations. It’s nothing we can see, but it’s there. So I chose to look at mental illness from a single brain cell that is misfiring. I thought in the overall collection of pieces this would be one very organic “don’t forget the brain’s role in all this” statement.

And let’s face it, no one is working with marbled fabrics like I am. I think I was able to show with this piece that you can a textile that isn’t often used and manipulate it into a statement. It seems like “different” is what art quilt shows are looking for, and this piece was quilted to emphasize the message, not quilted just for the sake of showing off quilting skills (which is what one quilt show seemed like that I attended – and this January show wasn’t an “art quilt” show).

So now it’s a case of really thinking through what I want to focus on for the next couple of years, while I still have the vision (literally) to create pieces. While working toward a specific show and deadline works for me, especially when I have to really think through the creation of a piece from idea to finished product, maybe it isn’t where I need to be. Bottom line, I want our business to make some money. That means more online product and outlets. Smaller quilt pieces are selling in my Etsy store, so I need to create more of those (and three are right now in the works). And I want to continue to learn and take classes, which isn’t possible when I’m trying to meet a lot of deadlines. I want my work in galleries, and I want to be able to travel and do some teaching of marbling. I need to take the time and think through new possibilities.

Which means that karma and the universe may be showing me why the piece was rejected (and maybe not……).

Without further ado, here’s the quilt in its online debut. “Misfiring Synapses,” 17 x 21 inches, unpolished red satin, black satin, Superior Threads, batting, cotton backing.

PS – may just have lined up my first gallery……

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

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