Need advice about an exhibition I submitted to...

Discussion in 'Call for Entries' started by Derek Jecxz, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Derek Jecxz

    Derek Jecxz Member

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    Hi, I don't post much, just read a lot. But I wanted to get other photographer's input on something that happened with a juried exhibition I submitted to. I'll leave out the name of the show and I am sorry for the length of this post but I want to be honest with what occurred.

    I received a postcard in the mail for an open call (any subject) for a Photography show in central NJ and I had 3 brand new large framed prints (I got them from my framer for something else that didn't pan out yet) – about 40” x 50” framed (I shoot 645 film). My framer does an outstanding job and he wraps each framed print with a semi-clear plastic (more clear than bubble wrap but there’s a shine to it and a subtle pattern) and yellow masking tape.

    I put these three into the car and dropped them off. I asked if I should remove the plastic wrap and I was told not to. There were many framed prints, many of great quality—I was impressed with the turn out.

    I was notified that none of my photographs were selected. It happens, no big deal.

    I went to pick up my framed prints and to my shock I discover that they were never taken out of the plastic!

    I was mad, but I just started to take them to the car. Then in a moment of clarity I asked to see a manager. I said to the manager, “My photographs were not unwrapped, how did the juror review them?” She said, “Of course they were, they were put back in the bags.” I took her to frames to show her and I said, “No, look, the tape is clearly still on for the first time, this plastic was not removed.” She said, “Yes, you’re right, I remember, I asked the juror if he wanted me to take the plastic off and he told me that he wasn’t going to select them.” Then she said, “Maybe he thought there was too much color.” Which offended me because I don’t “photoshop” color – the scan either matches the transparency or goodbye frame! (Sorry guys, I scan film and print, please forgive me).

    The story could end right there, but it didn’t. I had looked around at the photographs selected—very good stuff; but there were no landscape photographs. I asked her, “Did the juror select any landscape photographs—there was no specific subject, right?” She said, “Yes, he did, there are none down here, come with me, I’ll show you some upstairs. And the call was open for any subject matter.” We go upstairs and she’s looking and looking and mumbling about not finding any landscapes. Then she said, “wow, he didn’t pick any landscapes!”

    I then said, “Maybe he does not like landscapes. The ones he did select are very nice and I don’t mean to cause trouble so I’ll take my frames and go.”

    I took the frames to the car one at a time. By the third one another employee tells me that the manager wants to speak with me before I go (and that she’s upstairs).

    I go upstairs and she says, “I’m truly sorry. This is the first year there aren’t any landscape photographs for this exhibition and I apologize. If it means anything, I liked your photographs.” I said, “Thank you and I am sorry for causing any trouble, the ones selected are very good.” I left.

    It cost $8 a photograph for the exhibition, so the money isn’t the issue. My friends are pissed and want me to demand the money back, I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do, but I am trying to figure out the lesson here. By the way, these are the photographs I submitted if you want to see (I’m not trying to tout myself here).

    http://www.jecxz.com/?photograph=into_the_white_by_derek_jecxz.jpg

    http://www.jecxz.com/?photograph=north_ocean_by_derek_jecxz.jpg

    http://www.jecxz.com/?photograph=reflection_by_derek_jecxz.jpg

    I also don’t want to make this about sour grapes, this isn’t the first juried exhibition I’ve been rejected from and it’s not going to be the last—but at least remove the wrapping so I think you’ve looked at my photographs before rejecting them out of hand. I am also miffed about the juror not selecting any landscapes--if he was locked to a subject matter, then everyone submitting landscape photographs never had a chance of being selected--which is what I assume happened with my photographs.

    Again, sorry for the length of this post.

    Derek Jecxz
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You made the right decision, now you should write to the gallery and make a formal complaint about the selector. It's very unprofessional.

    Ian
     
  3. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    That's lazy on their part. I would attend the opening (if it hasn't opened yet) and say your piece to the juror.

    FWIW, those are very nice and well done landscapes. Better than most and I'm not a color guy.
     
  4. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    The first teacher I had when I started getting in to b/w photography pushed me to enter into some juried shows. Her first piece of advice to me was to find out who the juror was and what their interests are. Well, I didn't listen to all of her advice. I entered a couple of prints into an all media show that I shouldn't have because apparently the juror didn't consider photography as art. Sure enough, there was not one single photograph (from anyone) selected for the show.

    It happens.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have entered shows, and later figured out I had better credentials than the juror. Don't sweat it. Shows are all show.
     
  6. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Take the high road and let it pass.

    As these other posters have said - the juried shows can be a "stacked deck" with a "crap shoot" chaser.

    FWIW, I very much liked the two color shots.

    BTW: you might want to PM "naturephoto" here. He's a color landscaper here who also lives in "Joisey".

    And also, "rteague" (Robert Teague) is a color landscape guy here who also runs the site that you will find in my signature space below. He "suffers" by having to live in Hawaii - but hey, not everyone has the good fortune to be able to enjoy Northeast US winters!

    Oh, I think they both do larger formats than 6x4.5 but you might enjoy "talking shop" with them.
     
  7. Derek Jecxz

    Derek Jecxz Member

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    Thank you for the advice, it's sincerely appreciated. Writing this also made me feel better.

    As advised, I looked up the juror for this exhibition - he's a photographer, no landscapes, just portraiture, and parts of his website do not work. I am not sure what makes him qualified to be a juror--perhaps it's who you know?

    As was said, from now on I will try to determine who the juror is.

    I am not naive, but galleries should specify the genre if they are locked into one, otherwise they are just looking to collect as much as they can from as many artists as possible, knowing they will never consider some of the submissions--that's unethical. But from first hand experience, many of these galleries are living hand to mouth--but that doesn't make it right.

    This was a very cheap lesson, I wish they were all this inexpensive! Guys, thank you again!
     
  8. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Forgive the simplicity, but isn't it possible that the juror just felt that other photos were better in his eyes than the landscapes this year? I really like all your photos.. they're of high quality, but it's ultimately up to him. Someone has to make the call. The simple fact that it's a landscape among other genres doesn't qualify it for selection. It sounds like that's just how it ended up this year, not a usual practice for this exhibition as evident by her surprise.

    I would be upset if I had a submission that was omitted just because the juror felt he had to make room for another genre, despite his opinion about the quality of my photo. By its nature, this sort of show is subjective.

    Just another side to the coin, no offense meant! :smile:
     
  9. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I think that could be a valid point had the juror actually looked at the prints, but he didn't. As Derek made clear, they were never even unwrapped to be adjudicated.

    Derek, you express yourself very carefully and without rancor. If you can maintain that style, I agree, making a formal complaint might be a good idea. At least the sponsoring organization may be much more alert when selecting a juror in the future.
     
  10. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Hmmm -- I bet I know which show this is. None of my three pieces made it either and they were in the landscape/natural element side of things. The show of which I speak hung 80 pieces out of 701 submissions, so I just assumed it's the luck of the draw (after all, I belong to APUG, surely I'm a photographic genius - it couldn't be my fault! :D). Said exhibit was only partially hung when I was there and I did observe most of what was up involved people.

    I am entangled in putting on some art shows for a local club near me and would say judging is always a crap shoot at best, though it does seem a bit weird to be so one-sided in selection in a show advertized as all subjects. My experience is there is usually some interest in encouraging a broad spectrum of subjects and style. If they wanted a "theme" show, they should have said so!

    Anyway, I'd say you handled it decently, and they are aware of your disappointment, though it may not help them -- as I say, it's a crap shoot. My art club tries to get different judges every year, and normally gets two for our big open show. We try - sometimes hampered by availability and economics - to get two who specialize in different areas -- say a sculptor and an oil painter to possibly provide some balance. But I can tell you someone is always unhappy -- either about what happened to their own work, or looking at some other piece and mumbling "what were they thinking?!"

    We normally issue a set of instructions to the judges including a list of the awards available and some comments about limiting to one cash award per artist to spread the money around better. We also usually provide an approximate number for the quantity of pieces to accept based on our prior experience at the gallery space. Some judges take the ball and run, others have been difficult, claiming to have some sort of "vision" of what they see themselves accomplishing. I just take heart that each year will be different.

    Anyway, two of my declined pieces already received awards elsewhere, so phooey on 'em. I think I burned $20 worth of gas on the two round trips, now I'm debating whether to burn more to go see the final result.

    You have some very fine shots Derek, try them in some other shows.

    DaveT
     
  11. Derek Jecxz

    Derek Jecxz Member

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    I definately agree! But as jovo said, they weren't looked at. If they did take the framed prints out of the plastic, you're correct mine may not have been good enough, but we'll never know. I'm ok with not being good enough, it just means I'll work harder.

    Thank you for your words; it would be my sincerest hope that a well written letter explaining the above would matter, I don't know if they will care. I will probably be considered a "soup grapes loser."

    You may know! Yes, only modern contemporary people photos (many very good!). Wow, 701 pieces! That's $5,608!!!! If they said only portraiture, they'd have received less than half that. That's a nice business.
     
  12. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    That's a good point that I skipped over when I was writing. It does shift my opinion. By entering you should at the bare minimum expect fair consideration, which that was not. Voicing your concerns may not be such a bad idea if it's based on that complaint.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Take this advice freely offered for what it is worth - in my own personal experience, it is most likely to be an unsatisfying experience when you enter work in an all-media or all-subject show. You have no guidance as to what will or will not be accepted, or under which criteria. You will have a much better chance of being accepted if you carefully select shows to submit to that have known jurors and/or defined themes/selection criteria announced in advance. Otherwise, it is absolutely 100% up to the whim and sentiment of the juror.

    That said, what was done to you was an injustice and insulting. I would definitely write a formal letter of complaint to the sponsoring organization to let them know that this is unacceptable. Don't put any "threats" of future action in the letter - just be as clear, calm and professional with them as you have been here. But, I would also refrain from submitting work in the future, thus denying them your financial support.
     
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  15. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I was president of a local art guild for 3 years, and am now enjoying my first year of letting someone else listen to all the complaints. :smile:

    We sponsor a juried exhibition every year. One thing that we insist on is that the selection of the juror(s) is final. It is natural for entrants to be disappointed when none of their works were selected, but we have tried very hard to make our members understand that a juried show is not a critique. The juror does not owe an explanation to anyone regarding their selections. There may exist shows that do include a critique from the juror to the entrants, but ours does not. This year we have had to tell our members not to approach a juror to challenge their decision, because one member did just that. This puts the juror on the spot, and they may or may not even remember the artist's work, and they may try to smooth over the bruised ego by making excuses. This helps no one, and it calls into question the validity of the exhibition and the sponsoring organization.

    Speaking from this experience "on the other side" of the issue, I suggest that you not complain, nor write a letter. You may be disappointed, but even though I personally was impressed by the pieces you provided links to, still the juror may not have felt that they fit in with the rest of the show that he was curating. That's what a juried show is, by the way; it is an entity created by the juror from works created by other artists. If he feels that certain works do not fit in with his vision of the show (whether you agree with his vision or not), he will not select them, and for good reason. For the same reason, we insist that once selected for our show, the works must be available for exhibition. If the artist sells the piece, we insist that they tell the buyer that it must be borrowed back for our show. Noncompliance with this rule will result in ineligibility if future shows.

    Again, I know you are disappointed, and I can assure you that if you continue to enter juried shows, you will be disappointed again. I've been rejected plenty of times! But don't let that stop you. Just take the high road, don't write any letters, but keep entering shows.

    Oh, an anudder t'ing... Always take off the plastic. Don't ask, just do it. Probably wouldn't have made any difference this time, but next time it might. :smile:
     
  16. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Derek, you've handled this well by taking the high road thus far. I say continue that wise plan of action.

    Let it go, move on, forget about writing letters. I think doing so will make you seem petty, which does not seem like the kind of person you are.
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'va entered prints in shows and competitions a couple of times, but never won anything - and generally don't get showed if there are other prints at all.

    But then I had some in a competition where a number of judges were giving points to each print, and the entrants were given a breakdown of the points after the event was over: All of mine were graded "0, 9, 0, 10, 2, 9, 10, 1," and so on. Thinking about it for a bit I concluded that about half the jurors loved my prints, the other half hated them. And that must be better than the winning entry, which was graded a solid 8,10,8,9,9,7,9,8 or something like that? Speaking to others as well as some of the jurors I discovered that my prints had received more "10's" than any others - but also more "0's".

    You've just met one of the "0" jurors, and his vote was the only one. Next time there will be a different one, and that may be a "10"-man. :smile:
     
  18. mark

    mark Member

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    This has nothing to do with your post, but your site, which has some really nice stuff by the way. I am using Firefox on a Mac running OSX. something or other. There is a scroll bar that runs through the middle of the images. Sometimes it is there sometimes it is not.
     
  19. Derek Jecxz

    Derek Jecxz Member

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    I think talking with all of you has helped more than writing any letter could. I am truly appreciative, thank you.

    After carefully considering all of the great guidence in this thread, I've decided that I'm going to move on and put this experience behind me--I'm not going to make them important enough for me to spend time on a letter.

    I also think that I will reduce the number of juried exhibitions that I submit to... most don't sell anything and all I do is increase the bank account of the gallery. I just have to figure out the next step for my artwork, any advice?

    Mark-thank you! I know about this problem with my website; under some browsers the scrollbar you're seeing is in the pop-up frame for the lightbox feature--it works on most browsers and the only option was to remove the scrollbar for one or two browsers, but the scrollbar was necessary. I am sorry about this, but fixing it would mean removing a feature that works in many other browsers.
     
  20. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    BTW, Derek, I thought your photographs were excellent. Remember that they weren't rejected...they were simply never adjudicated.
     
  21. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi Derek, best to do your own show!

    Jon
     
  22. nicolai

    nicolai Member

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    One thing that I haven't seen addressed yet is that by charging entry fees (which I personally feel are horrendous BS), the gallery and submitting artist are entering into a business arrangement for the juror(s) to equitably evaluate the entries in exchange for money. To me, that's the problem here: not that your work wasn't selected, or that there were no landscapes (there is no obligation to represent every or any genre of photography in my opinion, even one as big and classic as landscape), but that your work wasn't given the fair evaluation that you paid for.

    (FWIW, I really like what you submitted, too; particularly the last two.)


    Just take the high road, don't write any letters, but keep entering shows.

    Sorry, eddym, but that sounds a little like "shut up and continue to bend over and take it". IMO it's the gallery that took the low road, and calling them out on it isn't stooping to their level. It's making them aware of a situation so they have an opportunity to fix it in the future.

    And telling us who the juror is would be a public service, because I know I certainly don't want to pay to have my work "considered" by them. And by charging entry fees and turning submissions into a business rather than artistic arrangement, both the jurors and galleries have made this sort of frank discussion no different than discussing the service you got at Freestyle, B&H, Calumet, etc., and I don't think anyone feels bad about doing that.

    Calling people out on bad behavior isn't rude, it's the bad behavior that's rude in the first place.

    I'm sure you've heard a lot of whiny complaints from artists in your time as director, but this sounds completely legitimate to me.
     
  23. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Reminds me of when I submitted my portfolio for art school, which was made up of about twenty 4x5 B&W contact prints. The fine arts instructor who was looking at my portfolio called in the painting instructor, who happened to be into photography, and they let me in based on my compositions but they thought my printing needed work. They were right about the printing because the contacts were from my first sessions attempting to make prints of any kind.

    I took the contact prints to the colleges head photography instructor who said my printing was good, but that my compositions were weak.

    Lesson learned; some people who should know what they're doing, don't. Let it go...

    Murray
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2008
  24. rcoda

    rcoda Member

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    It is a crap shoot... A couple of things that have been mentioned already...

    1. Never enter a "mixed" or "multi" media show. Only enter photography shows so your work can be judged apples to apples.

    2. If possible, know as much about the jurors as possible beforehand. Then submit entries based on that knowledge. For example... a long time ago there was a contest with Photo Review. George Tice was the juror. I entered several BW pieces from Mr. Tice's stomping grounds... Paterson, NJ. Took 2nd place and $200.

    As said, take the high road, make more great images, and don't let it eat at you. Good luck!

    Rich
     
  25. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Perhaps it should be mentioned that this event was at a non-profit community art center and not a commercial gallery. While that still doesn't smooth over or excuse what happened, it's not quite the crass commercial rip-off some are suggesting. Usually in these shows for non-profits, the entry fees cover the prizes, some sort of honorarium for the jurors, and any overhead or publicity for the show. In this case, I believe any funds beyond that go to help the center provide financial assistance for needy students who avail themselves of classes offered there.

    Think of it as playing the lottery, but you have to bring pictures. :D

    (Back channel communications confirmed that Derek and I were indeed at the same show.)

    Scoping out what sort of work the judge does is a common thing to do, but I think a caring judge would try to use his knowledge of technique, composition and style to select diverse works that have shown competence in those areas. Of course, I'd like to see world peace and an end to hunger also ....

    DaveT
     
  26. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I have been juried in, I have been juried out, I have been the juror. Stuff happens.

    I entered a show in Redding, CA, many years ago -- judged by a man with the last name of Weston (yes, one of the family.) He selected one of the most awful color prints as the top prize winner...and said as he walked out the door -- "That will give people something to talk about." (or something of that nature.)

    So ya never know...

    Vaughn

    PS...I'll have to disagree with Rich -- that doesn't always work. Jurors can be a lot tougher on photos similar to their own speciality...they know it too well (or it could be that you just had photos good enough to over-come that!)

    Personally, I say don't worry about who the juror is or what he/she likes or does in her/his personal work. Enter what you feel is your best work and let the work carry itself. Otherwise you are trying to play the same game as a juror who does not accept landscapes because he/she doesn't like them.