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competitions and shows..

updated sun 31 mar 96


Jonathan Kaplan on sun 31 mar 96

This is an interesting thread to jump in on. As one who participates
perhaps more than I would really like to in juried shows, competitions,
etc., maybe my two cents will be worth reading by some on the list.

I accept the propostion that our field is built on competition at all
levels. It is true that "only the strong survive"(perhaps a bit
heavy...but) in a way it is very very true. I also accept that if you wanna
play, you gotta pay. But this has its limits with me, more later.

I try and research shows and competitions before I send in and gather as
much information as possible. Awards? Track history? Do I know anyone from
previous exhibitions? And most important, what do I have to benefit? I
limit myself to anywhere between 6-12 shows a year. And like most of us, I
have a mixed acceptance/rejection ratio. My sole impetus for participating
in juried competitions is two fold: looks good on the resume, and I have a
chance at award money, purchase prize, etc.etc. Part of my budget for shows
on a yearly basis does indeed go for entry fees. If it is a gallery or art
center or other wise type of organization that is out there pushing fine
craft/fine claywork I'll consider it. I don't expect to receive my money
back if not accepted into this particular show venue. These I do for my ego
as a working artist. I am satisfied with the results. I am not really
concerned with a juror's statement for this particular type of competition.
I'll put my work out there anytime and take my licks. I have learned that
the gallery type show, for me, is my best venue for getting my work out
there. Having run a small clay gallery for a few years in my past I know
the financial end of it and I have no particular gripe with a jury fee for
this type of venue. I'll pay 25 bucks if I think that the show may have
potential for me, as mentioned above. But I will not submit to a show that
charges by the number of entries..say $10.00 for one, $20.00 for two, etc.
etc. or whatever. This galls me to no end and I will not be a part of this
system, no matter how presitgeous it may be. I'll also pay for the shiping
of the work to your gallery, but it is your good will part of the deal ( or
should be) to pay for the return to me. There is a small teapot show that I
submit to and have been accepted for two years that is quite prestigeous. I
have not sold a piece there in two years running, and have had to put out
freight both ways. I will not submit next year.

Now, when it comes to retail art/craft fairs, this is another entirely
different venue and I have some very definite opinions about this. Again, I
accept the competative nature of these events and understand this when I
drop my entry into the mail box. But what really takes the cake is manyfold
with me. Lets see if I can effectively write some subjects and comments

1. Numbers of applicants vs. number of booths in the show. These numbers
are staggering. 8000 applicants for 200 spaces, of which 50 have already
been juried in or grandfathered in from previous years? Come on, do the
math. The odds are brutal and definietly not in my favor. And yes, I'll put
my stuff out there with the best of others, but after 20 some odd years of
applying to the Philadelphia Craft show, when will my number come up? And
the same is true with the Cherry Creek show in in my backyard, Denver. And
then going to look at the show is another enlightening experience. There is
absolutely no reason in hell why my work and that of many other talented
artists both on this list and not should have bveen rejected from this
event. And for all the years of existence of this show, never once have
they ever published a list of jurors and their qualifications. There is no
excuse for any show no matter how prestigeous to disregard one of the
primary sources of information for the applicants... "NAME YOUR JURY!!"
There is no reason that I can possibly think not to publish names and
statements, UNLESS the promoter him/herself is the sole judge and jury. In
that case, no entry from me. And this has happened in the past, and we all
know this. Be honest and forthright with the information, and in my book,
the show has validity. And yes, I also understand that promoters want and
need a balanced show. But give everyone a fair chance, and this starts at
the get-go. I don't care if your show is rated the best in the world by
Sunshine Artists. Don't let your ego get in the way.

2. If you are rejected from such a show, I think it is incumbent on the
promoters to refund part of the entry fee. Hey, I'll pay to have my slides
looked at, but at the same time, show me some consideration and refund say,
half, of the entry fee if I am rejected. Don't you dare put my money
towards the shows publicity if I am not participating. I'll be glad to have
my jury fee work for you if you work for me. Its just that simple.

3. Most important, having been on many juries, don't even think of
submitting you stuff if the slides are not bigger and better than life. Its
that simple. Mediocre slides don't have a chance. The competition is

4. Wholesale shows.....Rosen Group, ACE, etc. etc. I'll be honest. I have
been very lucky to have really good success rates with trade shows, and
this is an entirely different subject altogether.

So after years and years of rejections from Cherry Creek, St. Louis, and
Philadelphia, what have I done? I did send to Cherry Creek because I think
that this may be my year (no jurors were publised in the call for entries.
I call Bill Charney and was assured that "someone from the American Crafts
Museum would be on the jury, but, no potters!!) This will be my last year
of applying. I did also send to St. Louis, again, no published jurors.
Philadelphia is due August 14, and for me, I am still not sure.

Hope springs eternal. But I do know that it is a crap shoot, and for me,
its the "Pottery Lottery."


Jonathan Kaplan

(aka "Scooter)
Ceramic Design Group/Production Services Voice:
303-879-9139 POB 775112
FAXmodem: same
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477, USA CALL before faxing

"No matter where you go, there your are!"