I can’t ever remember criticizing a show I have been a part of (who wants to embarrass themselves, right?) so it’s a strange feeling to have to report that something was seriously amiss at the Box Factory show this year. I suppose the first clue was receiving an email notifying me that the crew receiving hand-delivered work had forgotten to have artists sign a PR release, and here’s a PDF file you can open, sign, and return. Not sure how well that went, but it was the opening salvo of a subsequent series of missteps.
Almost all shows require that accepted artists also fill out an identifying label with name, title, medium, and price of each artwork to be shown. They didn’t do that this year. And I think that may be part of what created the most dismaying situation of all. In the gallery’s defense it could be said that any veterans of the juried show experience would have known to make their own label and attach it to the art work if none were supplied (I always do that, even if a fill-in label is provided–you couldn’t possibly suffer from overkill in this regard) however it is unrealistic to expect all artists (who also have a perhaps undeserved reputation for flakiness) to reliably cover their arses.
So all of this leads to the final, inexplicable indignity. This is a huge show. This is its 15th year. I didn’t count, but there must be at least 200 works in this show. There are extremely generous cash prizes for best of show, and best of various categories. There is a reception with a real crowd–by which I mean so many people that it can be difficult to view what’s on the walls. So imagine you are an artist in this show, and there is no identifying information label on the wall next to your work. Now, imagine that this is the case with a whole slew of the art works exhibited. Next, imagine that you look around and in the middle of some sculptures is a wagon-type cart with a whole bunch of wall labels sitting in it that were never put up, along with the materials which should have been used to put them on those walls. Truly puzzling is the discovery of two quite large paintings which never even made it to a wall–they are still sitting on the floor on top of some protective carpet scraps, and leaning against the wall. All this is happening during the opening reception when everything should have been in place for the benefit of all the people who have come to see your work. Nit-picking here, but I must also mention that the labels which did manage to get put up did not state what the medium was. Acrylic, oil, mixed media, digital? Hard to tell.
So what happened? A management change from previous years? A shortage of volunteers? Who knows? All I can say is I would have preferred that whatever limited resources there were had been directed toward proper display of artists’ information. Fortunately my two paintings were not victims of whatever chaos struck the show but I feel for the artists who were shortchanged.
On a brighter note, here are a couple photos of things I really liked, along with a look at my two paintings which thankfully happened to be actually hanging on a wall, with proper ID next to them.
This is a rather large painting which can’t be totally appreciated from a tiny photo. It was also darker on the upper left side but I couldn’t tell my phone not to capture the reflected glare on that side. I liked the busy quality of this painting in the sense that my eye wanted to hop all over it, sussing out all the little compositional bits. It can be tricky to pull off “busy” successfully; too often the result just looks busy with no purpose. I was drawn into this painting partly by nostalgia, partly by the expert use of color, and partly by the concomitant use of contrast.
I felt compelled to stare at this installation piece for quite some time. I loved the variety of all the little bowls which seemed to be sitting precariously on their minimal pedestals. There was no way to tell if they were securely attached, which was probably the point since I couldn’t help but wonder if the mountains of shards underneath were an earlier result of hundreds of these little gems dismounting from their perches. The lighting on this installation was also quite effective.
It’s a pet peeve of mine that in many juried shows, not just this one, an artist’s works are not displayed together. I don’t understand it, never will, have received various “explanations” but still believe that people enjoy seeing an individual artist’s works together, and that those works when together reinforce each other and complement each other. So the continuity in this case between #10 and #11 was ruptured by distance and another hanging wall. On the bright side, at least this year they were within 20 feet of one another. A couple years ago my paintings were on two different floors.
I guess I should be grateful that I don’t post on this blog too often. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read this much stuff on even a weekly basis. I hope you made it all the way to the end of this post!