New Show: By Land or By Sea

I am a participating artist in the newest Honolulu Country Club Show: “By Land or Sea”. It’s a group show featuring around 15 artists.  The show will run from February 26, 2017 to April 9, 2017 at Honolulu Country Club, 1690 Ala Puumalu St., Honolulu 96818

You are invited to come enjoy the reception, March 5, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 PM.  If you have never been to an artist’s reception before, you’re welcome to read my post about how to attend an artist’s reception.

Peaceful Sanctuary by Wendy Roberts

Peaceful Sanctuary

Fiery Sunset by Wendy Roberts

Fiery Sunset

I have two pieces on display at the show, “Peaceful Sanctuary” and “Fiery Sunset”. One for land, and one for sea seemed right.

I am looking forward to seeing the completed show.  I normally stay to help hang the artwork, but this weekend was unusually busy so I had to drop it off and leave before the hanging even began.

I really like the Honolulu Country Club as a venue. It’s a very beautiful building on picture-perfect grounds! I hope to see you there!


How to Attend an Artist’s Reception

Artists Reception Refreshments WAG 2016

Artists Reception Refreshments

I used to think I wasn’t allowed to go to artists receptions without receiving a specific invitation in the mail.

I remember very clearly the first Artist’s reception I attended.  It was for my Dad’s solo show at Springville Museum of Art in the mid-nineties. Since my Dad was quadriplegic, he had stopped attending art openings long before I could recall due to his health, so he had only one artist’s reception that I remember.  Because it was one of his only events, and he was very ill, I think many people guessed correctly that it would be his last art show as well. Although it was announced in the newspaper, I really didn’t think about the logistics much.  I just knew the upper floor of the museum held quite a crowd. I’m not sure how many people were there, but I know it was an unusually large crowd.  I remember seeing family, classmates of his from high school, neighbors, friends.  Even some people he hadn’t seen in years attended. Many people were dressed up very nicely.  It felt more like a wedding than a gallery reception in many ways.

It was a lovely event, but somehow I concluded that art receptions were only for people who know the artist. I figured I wasn’t allowed to go to an artist’s reception if I wasn’t a personal friend. Now that I have attended many artists receptions (my own and others), I know that for most of the art receptions in Hawaii, my ideas were absolutely incorrect! I would like to encourage you to attend artists receptions, even if you don’t know any of the artists.  If it looks interesting, you should go. They are truly meant to be parties for the public. We want to see our existing friends/family AND meet new people. We love it when people take to time to see the show we worked hard to put together.

Artists Reception AHA 2016

Artists Reception AHA 2016: Most art shows have an approximately 10 minute presentation of awards and/or quick acknowledgement of the organizers and/or artist.

The real deal with art shows:

Unless there are specific invitations with specific instructions, this is the way artists receptions run:

1. Everyone is welcome.

Artists receptions are like a big, open house type party and really, crowds are a gift.  You can bring friends. You don’t have to know the artist.

2. Dress comfortably

You don’t have to dress nicely, but you can if you like.

3. Enjoy the refreshments

There are almost always light refreshments and drinks.  Yes, you can eat and drink them even if you don’t know the artist.  Go ahead – that’s why we have a refreshment table – for ALL our guests.

4. You are not obligated to buy art

You are not expected to buy something – you can certainly do so if you like, but it’s never an obligation.

5. Stay as long as you like

You can stay for part of the night, or the whole time.

6. Please don’t take it personally if your conversation with the artist is short or interrupted.

I am always trying to strike that perfect balance between visiting with everyone and swapping meaningful conversation for as long as possible.  I never manage to talk to everyone, and inevitably, at least a couple of conversations are cut short. I always wish I had more time.

7. Basic human decency is great.

As long as you don’t destroy the art, act in a rude fashion, or drink all the wine and get wasted, you’re going to fit in just fine!

8. You don’t have to be an art expert to attend.

If you don’t know much about art, you are not alone.  There are always plenty of people who come to support the artist in their life, and their attendance doesn’t center around the art.  Likewise, some people know a lot about art, but don’t know anyone. There are lots of reasons to go to a reception.  No one is expecting you to write an art review for the local paper in which you identify intriguing parallels to 15th century Italian art.

9. Just go.

If you see a show in the newspaper or on an online events calendar that you think would be fun to view, try to go on the artist’s reception night.  It will be full of energy and people.  Sometimes there is live music.  It really is like a wonderful party you didn’t have to plan.  Feel free to “crash” an art reception anytime.  And if you like the work, find the artist and say something nice.  Sign the guestbook, and enjoy the ambiance.

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Art Show Rejections

This post is for other artists, especially the young ones, but really anyone who faces the challenge of a juried contest as part of their job.  Anytime you drop off work to be juried, you really hope your works get juried in. It would be great to get an award too!  In the time between submission and display, your heart may be leaping, maybe you are daydreaming about how nice it would be to win…

…until you see both pieces have been juried out and are waiting for pickup.

…until you see there is no award by your label.

If you are human, you probably feel at least a flutter of disappointment, but I am going to tell you about my first time trying to pick award winners, and hopefully you will learn not to take rejection too seriously.

I was part of committee recently that awarded 12 awards to young artists.  The show had already been placed on display.  A round of jurying had already been done.  The remaining pieces were amazingly good. Inevitably, I promise you some of the best work had been juried out or overlooked already. I am always amazed at what doesn’t get on the walls at any of the shows I have entered – some of the best work gets picked up as a rejected piece before anyone gets to enjoy it.  That initial cut was done, and now we were trying to select awards for young artists we thought should get a nod of the head from our association.

It was dizzying.  There are no right answers.  There are no clear answers.  We chose the best we could with a criteria of technical skill and “wow factor”.  And this is how it is judging art.  Some people took an immediate like to a piece that others in the group didn’t understand.  We all preferred a unique set of pieces – there was some overlap, but none of the lists matched.  The amazing photographer in our group chose a lot more photographs because he could appreciate their expertise.  Another artist chose 2D art with an emphasis on technical skill.  Another artist chose mostly the mixed media pieces, valuing innovation.  Another chose based entirely on a conceptual basis – ideas-driven criteria. We then compromised to try to give each person a little bit of satisfaction.  You can’t really judge art. Each piece is made under differing criteria and in order to be even remotely fair, it feels like you would have to have 1000 categories and make the categories ridiculously narrow:

“best oil painting of people with an overall sad feeling”

“best whimsical pastel cat”

“best bas-relief carved decorative gourd”

“best documentary-style photograph depicting the theme of death and loss”

How can all these things compete with each other?  It’s like apples, oranges, a live octopus and a pair of tennis shoes! Which one is best?  Well, are you planning to eat it, put it in the ocean, or run with it on your feet?

Which one is best?

Likewise how do you compare art that really doesn’t fill the same function at all?  Are you going to put it on your wall, place it on a decorative side table, place it in a museum, wear it, use it to help make people aware of a social issue, or illustrate a children’s book with it? This would be helpful to determine the “winner”, but in many shows, there’s no answer.  It’s all competing against each other.

Which of these masterpieces is the best? Wouldn’t this be a nightmare to jury?

We chose some pieces that were innovative, or thought-provoking, or beautiful, or skillful. Many were a combo of these things.  But this small set of awards wasn’t even remotely exhaustive of all the great pieces in the room that deserved recognition.  I loved a couple of pieces I felt were rather whimsical and I would rank them as my favorites, but they lost out because they were competing with amazing hard-hitting pieces with very serious themes.  We as a society often award the depressing things even if the whimsical pieces are just as technically wonderful.  I think this might be because the whimsical pieces are more likely to be purchased for display on a wall, whereas, we still want to provide some sort of encouragement to the things that are too painful to display all the time in our living spaces.  Some of the most amazing and tragic pieces couldn’t be awarded for technical issues, or because it was similar to a piece we awarded already and we were trying to at least touch on most of the various media. The process tried to be logical, but art is not logical.

In the end, every piece we selected was lauded by at least three of our members, often all of us.  I would have made different awards if left to my own devices, and I was grateful I wasn’t left to my own devices.  The biases of each artist at least are somewhat balanced in a group. This process showed me a lot about my own biases, and about what it means to jury, and what it means to lose.

Winning means something.  It means that at least one person thought your work was the best in the room.  They really connected with it.  Generally speaking, the winning pieces are usually really genuinely good technically and/or conceptually (not always both), so when I see an artists who is winning awards, I know they have wonderful quality to their work.

Losing means NOTHING. Some of the strongest pieces are cut because of a bias (“I don’t understand pottery”, “I don’t like pieces that make me feel anxious”), a belief (“whimsical work is less worthy of awards than depressing work”, “conceptual art is more important than decorative art”), or a desire to be less biased (“I like portraits and this one is amazing, but we already selected 2 other portraits for awards, so we better try to give the award to an abstract” “we ought to spread the awards to include the 3D artists too because we haven’t awarded any sculptors yet”). All kinds considerations and justifications enter into this process, and when you are on the choosing end, you realize how arbitrary some criteria really is, but it’s part of the process that is impossible to overcome. Even with a half-dozen jurors, we still ran into some odd reasons to select one piece over another.

This is why you should feel good when you win, but you shouldn’t feel bad if you lose.  Winning means you connected with the specific group that selects work and made them feel something, but losing means nothing. There were so many great pieces!  We could not possibly do a perfect job of choosing the most deserving works.

Next time you are feeling down about rejection, you can do the following things:

  1. Don’t quit making art.
  2.  See if you can detect something missing in your technical skill that you can improve for next time. Know it is perfectly possible to be technically superb and still get rejected.
  3. Shrug it off – a loss means nothing! You can even enter the same piece in a later show and win first place in a different show.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep and enjoy yourself with an activity that takes your mind off your troubles for a while.  With time and experience, you will get thicker skin.