Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Same Place, Different Faces….
A couple of weeks ago, I was putting a DVD show together of images from our fall/winter camping season. Yes, I am a Boy Scout, at least as much as I can be without all the official equipment to go with the title. With 3 Eagle Scouts in the family, it has been a long journey in the outdoors which began with the idea that if I didn’t want to be left behind, I better pack up and go along the trail too. Of course I am a closet tomboy and outdoor junkie for sure even though I flunked out of both Brownies and Camp Fire Girls long ago. I still know my Indian name however (Nan-chi-o-ta) which translated to “she who sits by the river and draws” plus I still have a long shoe string of red beads (those given for art related activities in girlie world scouting). Good thing I had sons! None of this has to do with my point today however, I just wanted to share with you that I am perfectly happy with a shovel and a tree, minus the bear of course, which is a whole other story.
Viewing the photos to put them in order, I realized that the same campsites are pictured year after year, but the faces in them have changed. Many I don’t even recognize anymore because I am more behind the scenes than leading the meetings. It made me aware of the fact that my service to the program is not dependent on the boys, which is the usual reason for getting involved, but it has become more about the values, the overall picture of giving my time, and about having a purpose for being a part of something. I think anyone who has given of themselves to some cause over the years would find this same realization. Events, locations and activities remain pretty much standard format, but who shows up, who participates and who continues on all change over time. If you are a dedicated volunteer, you just keep showing up, doing the same thing over and over, and truly enjoy it.
The art world is no different or least it hasn’t been until the last few years. Annual competitions are common (19thannual, 27th annual, 75th annual, etc.) which are an open juried type of show (all media, all subject matter), but a change is slowly taking place. Shows are becoming more “theme” oriented or even more “categorical” in the selection and application process. The same faces no longer can participate, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your personal point of view. For example, some venues request only artists with disabilities, some limit entries to specific ethnic groups, some are selected by gender and still more by age, media, subject or size restrictions. Maybe it is because so many artists are competing now and the process to do so is faster and cheaper than ever before so the galleries need to prevent themselves from being overwhelmed with entries. Maybe it is because the target audience attention span is getting shorter and shorter so a point of reference has to be provided (every piece in the show was done by a guy with one leg and four fingers, on a Thursday). Maybe the purpose is to fit in with America’s pseudo calendar (Women’s history month, Black history month, redheads week, Toga Tuesdays). Whatever the purpose may be, I find it just that much more confusing and limiting in my search to find venues which will fit me and my work. When it happens to be middle aged Monday, female Friday or national Menopause Month, let me know so I can send in a few digitals and duke it out with the other dames.
The upside to this new trend is that more shows are occurring overall. More opportunities are out there for young artists, new media artists, non-traditional artists, underrepresented artists and so forth. More groups and organizations are getting involved in hosting exhibitions and including art in or as fundraising situations. Different ideas are being developed to bring artists together (hint hint on an upcoming post).
How I got from the Scouts to the Studios is rather round about (the road type ones drive me nuts which is another topic all together) but if you made it this far, you didn’t fall off the train of thought.
**Come to the IlluminArts Festival this Saturday (3/27/10) at Timken HS to watch my pastel portraits demo.