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2008 Montauk Art Festival ZAPP Monitor Jury
Comments from a 2D Artist

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The Booth Slide
Some artists applied without a booth slide. Sensibilities would dictate that if artists did not have a booth slide, they would at least contact the show director and explain why. In many cases this may tip their hand to the fact that they actually may not have a body of work or the equipment necessary to set up a booth. In such instances, it’s hard not to conclude that this is not the kind of artist that most shows wish to have as exhibitors. Shows desire artists that are far enough down the road in their art show career that they have a solid body of work and the the ability to set up a professional exhibit at a show.

I also noticed that there were numerous artists that were using what seemed to be “special jury slides”. In these instances, when you compared the four images of their work to the artwork in the booth slide, there seemed to be no correlation. When the application rules specifically state that the images of the artwork are supposed to represent the body of work you will be exhibiting, a correlation should exist between the images of the artwork and the booth slide. Use of such “special jury slides” seem to be a conscious attempt to circumvent the rules by seeking cracks or loopholes in the rules or somehow rationalizing why such a rule doesn’t apply to their submission. It is one thing for the slides of the artwork to demonstrate the quality of work but I think the intent of such rules are to also show the content.

Quality of slides
We've all seen artists in front of their booth with a camera in their hands attempting to take a picture of their booth. Bottom line is that someone should go up and slap them alongside their heads and say hey, just because you own a camera, doesn’t mean you know how to take a booth slide! Many of the booth slides we saw in the jury process were terrible as were a good number of the art slides. As this is a blind jury process, our assessment can only be made based on what we see before us. Therefore, many otherwise good artists were penalized if they had bad slides of their artwork. Some of the image problems were strong color cast, out of focus, pixelation, and images of artwork taken as snapshots in the wrong setting, like in front of a piece of furniture. Even if you could see that the work might have looked good, we had to judge based on what we were looking at. Uniform well-lit backgrounds of 3D work improved their presentations, grabbing the juror’s attention far more quickly than varied or uneven backgrounds. A suggestion is to hire someone knowledgeable in product photography. It’s a one time expense to pay someone to make your images “come alive” on the screen and it will pay dividends over and over in terms of a better chance to be accepted into shows.

Another issue was names in the booth or on the artwork. I must have seen at least a dozen slides where the booth slide was taken like a family portrait where the artist (with a name tag on) was waving to the camera, sometimes with friends or family. In a case like that I would take points off because they’ve gutted the blind jury process. I think there’s a big issue about what constitutes a good booth slide. I saw people who put a few pieces on pedestals or had pieces hanging in a gallery. Neither of those is a booth slide. They should consider borrowing a friend’s booth or buy their own and follow the rules about what the shows are looking for. They’re going to loose points depending on how much weight the show director wants to put on the booth slide. If the promoter wants to put on a high end show, the jurors need to know what your presentation is going to look like if you get accepted.

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Applying in Which Category?
Some artists tried to fit themselves into categories where they don’t belong. For example in photography, a photographer stated that they were using a digital tablet to hand color black and white images. Therefore they applied in the category of digital art. I consider using digital technology to do the same things as what photographers did in the darkroom to be still defined as photography. Another example could be artists who do glass or metal and then add a piece of wood and call it mixed media, even though the main medium was over 95% of the piece. On the other extreme was a painter that covered the paintings with other materials so that nearly half the work was another medium yet the application was submitted in the painting category. Another example was an artist who called their work encaustic, which is layers of pigmented wax. When I used Google (an advantage of jurying at home) to look up the word encaustic, every hit was in reference to it being a painting technique, yet this artist had applied in mixed media. Then I would find an artist using a combination of acrylic, mixed media and watercolor on the same piece and putting themselves in the painting category. I also saw some artists applying in two categories with identical jury images. My feelings would be either to to reject them from both categories, or eliminate one application, leaving them in the category that seemed to best fit the work they were showing and describing.

The jurors have to sort through all these issues and do what they can to stop any perceived abuses, keeping it as fair and level a jury process as possible. It is my belief that shows have to be aware of what is going on and have an obligation to the artists that apply to write their definitions as clearly as possible and provide examples when needed for clarification within each category. Without taking an active role in the jury process, mistakes will be made and artists that seek to circumvent the rules will be rewarded. Too many artists are self-serving and will do whatever they deem necessary to get an edge on other artists. They will apply in categories where they really don’t belong because maybe it’s a smaller category and they have a better chance of getting in and maybe a better chance of winning an award. The promoters have an obligation to their show to be as thorough as possible to catch these errors and abuses.

Artists Canceling Shows and Open Spaces
In the quest for art shows to accumulate as many applications as possible, shows are not stressing to artists how important it is to have a professional booth slide. As a result, shows are receiving applications from artists who might not be prepared to do an art show. A consequence is that if they are accepted, they either cancel or do not show up at the event. Compounding this are the shows that do not offer a booth refund. Once an artist has been accepted and paid for their booth, if they decide not to do the show and there is no booth refund policy, there is little incentive for them to contact the show. This leaves the show with an empty space at the last minute.
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The artist who let me do this interview prefers to remain anonymous

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