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The Main Street Fort Worth Digital Jury
Part II
Dec 17-18, 2004
by Sara Corkery

other art show jury reviews

Read Part I

Because the Main Street Fort Worth jury was open, quite a few visitors stopped in to watch all or part of the event. About 25 people came by at various times while I was there. Several were artists who applied to the show.

One photographer, a NAIA member from Florida, stayed for the full two days of jurying. This was his first time applying to the Fort Worth show. He was motivated to do so both because the show was using ZAPP and because he was interested in taking some photos in the area. He says he was happy he had purchased a ROKU and a digital projector beforehand because his test run showed him his images needed more saturation. He had also experimented with adding a "border" inside the black ZAPP canvas, and abandoned the idea after his own projection had shown him it would be a distraction. He was satisfied with how his images appeared during jurying. (According to the Fort Worth website, this photographer is an accepted exhibitor for 2005.)

Another spectator was an artist from Tennessee who paints and works with copper and has been involved with art fairs for about three years. She had never seen the jury process before. Her work was eliminated after the first round, but after watching her category go by, she felt it was not the image quality operating against her, but rather the range of selections she chose. She felt she had learned a lot from the experience and would be able to adjust accordingly to meet with more success.

A sculptor and a photographer who sat together on Saturday did not see their images projected as their work had not survived the cut on Friday. Having submitted slides for scanning without seeing the final result, they were understandably concerned that they might have been juried out due to poor image quality. However, after Jay Downie and the ZAPP technicians were kind enough to take the time during a break to locate and project their work, their fears were put to rest.

Representatives from other art shows who are using ZAPP this year audited the process and came away very favorably impressed. Terry Adams and Tara Brickell, both of Denver’s Cherry Creek Fine Arts Festival, thought it went very well. “ I’m ecstatic,” Terry says.

Although some predicted a drop in applications, the number of artists vying for a space at Cherry Creek was apparently unaffected by its adoption of ZAPP. “We were down about 3% from last year,” Terry reports. “We have a normal fluctuation of 3-5% per year, so that’s in the range.”

As in the case with Fort Worth staff, who phoned each artist individually when problems or questions surfaced relating to their ZAPP submissions, Cherry Creek personnel worked hard to assist artists in the transition to this new way of applying for shows. “We were receiving 75 to 100 submissions a day toward the end,” Terry says. “We had people send digital images and got our own graphics person to format them—it was easier than talking the applicants through [the formatting process].”

The show deadline was even extended for an extra week to accommodate the new learning curve. “We wanted to do what was best and most fair to leave no artist behind,” Terry says. “The extra week brought in a couple of hundred applications. Over 2000 artists applied. We usually get around 2100.”

As far as those sending in slides to scan, Terry and his staff did the scanning themselves, to the tune of about three artists per hour. Rather than resenting the extra work, Terry felt it enriched his experience in relation to the Cherry Creek event. “This process has allowed me to be more connected to artists and their work than ever before,” he says.

He is also encouraged that the detailed information garnered from online jurying can better meet the needs of the artists. For instance, according to Terry, ZAPP data revealed that “forty percent of applicants applied after five p.m. This tells me that perhaps we need support to help people on line after regular office hours.”

Beth Hoffman from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Festival of the Arts also spent a day at the Fort Worth jury. When asked for her overall impression, she says, “I’m thrilled with the ease of system and the jurors' reactions. And the efficiency of equipment—no jammed slides!”

She says things were going well back in Milwaukee, too. “We got 1300 applications last year, with about 1050 to 1100 this year. It started really slowly, and it was nice not to deal with flood of overnight packages at the end. There were lots of phone calls. It’s remarkable how smoothly it went. I predict that in the very near future, we’ll all be saying, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?’ It’s not a lightened, but a different workload. No more lost slides, chewed up by postal machines. Reports are generated faster.”

Beth feels the response has been fairly positive. “An amazing number of artists called to say thank you. I’m grateful to artists who took the time to call,” she says, adding, “We need to hear both sides. Artists need to bring things up so we can fix them.”

"One artist emailed to tell us, ‘When I heard about this I was moaning and groaning to my husband. He said. ‘Evolve or die.’" Beth laughs, "I’m going to embroider that! It’s high time for a change like this. This has become such an industry. An industry that doesn’t evolve is doomed.”

"The techno part is sometimes a challenge,” she admits. “We’ve had some sleepless nights. But ZAPP rules !”

Main Street Fort Worth staff members are very pleased with whole process as well. “No more dropping slide trays,” says one. “And the images look so much better! The administration is so much easier.”

Read Part I

other art show jury reviews

Contents of this article copyright Sara Corkery


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