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I recently participated in an outdoor art festival that was a juried event. A juried show for some artists is a big thing, because often cash prizes are awarded to the winning art and sometimes those dollar amounts are fairly substantial. It is already an honor for any artist to have their work accepted in a show where it will be seen by large audiences and where it will be judged based on certain criteria by some of the top critics in the industry and world of “art.” 

Judges sometimes see hundreds of art exhibits and their time is limited when it comes to viewing each selected art entry. It takes organization, a knowledge of the types of art presented and a genuine desire to judge each artists fairly in the many different art categories being judged. However, it also takes respect and professionalism, both on the side of the judge and also that of the exhibiting artist.

If you are not familiar with the judging process, a judge is usually accompanied by someone who can assist them with getting in and out of art exhibits quickly because time is limited. These individuals assist with scoring and write down what the judge tells them. I like to call them the judge’s “mini me.”  Prior to judging, “Mini Me” will hand the artist a judge’s business card, notifying the artist they are about to review the art work. Once completed, they move on to the next exhibit. My past event only had two judges and all seemed to be going well, considering there was a large crowd of patrons vying for a chance to also see what the art festival had to offer. I was quite impressed when I saw the first judge taking a good look at my art, viewing it up close to see more detail. He picked up some of the fashion art bags I designed and ran his fingers across the fabric bags made from the art I create. I already felt like a winner. This person took time to actually make me feel they were interested in doing their job. 

The 2nd judge came by, didn’t look or even glance at my work, but proceeded to walk right by my exhibit. He not only overlooked my work but overlooked the next artist as well, who was definitely a more seasoned artist than I. Oh yes, Mini Me did give me a card, but I watched the judge speak with other people and turn in the opposite direction to move forward and away. He never once looked at my art. 

It wasn’t so much about winning. It was about showing professionalism and respect to the artists who work hard to create what they do. This judge by now was long gone and I was left scratching my head. So, with his business card in hand given to me by Mini Me, I left in search of # 2 judge. I found them. I handed the judge’s business card back to Mini Me and politely told him my exhibit had been overlooked. He then replied by saying,“You WERE given a card,” though he looked confused as well. I smiled and returned to my art exhibit. A while later, # 2 judge accompanied by Mini Me returned to my exhibit and quickly gave my art the “once over.” Hmm. Had I just made the severe social blunder, a slip, a breach of etiquette in the world of art by chasing down a judge? Nah! Was I satisfied they had returned to look at my art? Not really. It was the principal of the matter. A mistake was made on the part of the judging team. Whether or not intentional, I do not know. But, for the sake of all artists who spend hours and hours creating art to be juried for sometimes high dollar awards and recognition within a very competitive art arena, the most gracious REWARD an artist could ask for, is for the representing judge to at least LOOK AT THE ART! 

At the end of the day, I had mostly forgotten about Judge #2 and Mini Me. I was ready to go home. I had a great show, met other artist, had some great food to eat. All in all………….it was a successful event. I had fun and isn’t that what life should be….fun?

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