Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Day Looking at Art

On Friday I sat in as a juror/selector for art for the County of Alameda, my home county in CA. I had been asked to sit in on this call as one of the two artists who would be looking at the work. The Arts Council for the county has three calls to artists out...this one which was due a month ago and two more, that I am submitting work to, that are due tomorrow. Since I was not eligible to enter this current one, they ask me to be there.

What an interesting day. This is all percent for arts money that is being used to purchase work. We were looking at work for one smallish office which only had a budget of $2500 to purchase work for the office which is a central starting point for people seeking building permits. There was one person who was in that office and then two others who are also located in the same building and are in the planning department. There was another artists, a painter and then one of the Arts Commission members who is an architect. He could discuss and voice his opinions but is not a voting member. And then there were two staff.

One of the Superior Courts has $60,000 to spend for art so they had already taken a look at the works and made some preliminary selections. The staff had reduced the number of works to view from over 1000 to about 230 pieces.

It was a very interesting process. We each had a list of the work, along with the artist's name, the medium used, and the retail price and size. Since our budget was so low, pieces of work over $2500 were excluded from our consideration. The first go-round viewing the work was fairly quiet as we each noted if we felt the piece was a yes, no, or maybe. Had a brief lunch break and then got down to business of running through them all again, this time with discussion about why we liked something. We got to hear other people's views about the work. Some, solicited no comments from us as we were all clearly a no on those pieces...the comments were on the maybes and the yeses. In the end, we turned in our choices on the sheet to the staff. They will tabulate and see which ones we are clearly interested in and contact artists to bring the work in.

In a month, we will reconvene to look over all the work we have selected, in person, and then make our final recommendations. Our recommendations go to the Arts Commission board who usually approves the recommendations.

We saw all sorts of work. A lot of "archival digital images" or what used to be photographs. Since there is so much work being done on the computer, the way these were put together was really interesting. One person created panels that were 36 x 60" and had three images (actually they were like strips of images) in a triptych on the one piece of fine art paper. One of the pieces had three different views from a freeway, but they were images of the freeway itself. Another had three images of the ground, but various kinds of ground. Lots of mixed media. One person had created two different plaid patterns out of was interesting but I am not into all over patter which this was. One piece was painted with beads added. There were no other textiles in this bunch although there was one painting that had fine embroidery added to the work.

It was really great to sit in on this process. I called a good friend afterwards and told her that both she and her partner need to submit their work for consideration to the next calls that come out. There is absolutely nothing to loose....and so should you!

Our county is now using an on-line service which collects all the artist information. Each artist uploads images and then chooses which ones to submit for consideration. We also submit our resume which is uploaded from our files and also our artist statement. Then, with the push of a button, the entire package is submitted to the council. Last time I did this I had to submit slides, 10 copies of the slide list, ten copies of the packet which included artist statement, application, resume and whatever else they wanted. Everything had to be numbered and put together into ten different packets with only one set of slides. That was a real pain! This is so much easier!

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