GO-Art! puts exhibit in hands of jury

Apr 6, 2017

Looking out on a field of paintings, photographs and interpretations of a rural theme, artist Karen Crittenden didn’t want to eavesdrop of the jury winding through GO-Art!’s Batavia gallery.

With verbal asides and sticky notes, GO Art! Assistant Director Gregory Hallock, Roz Steiner Art Gallery Director Mary Jo Whitman and art instructor Jill Pettigrew spent Monday afternoon culling submissions for the gallery’s “Art of the Rural” exhibition.

Crittenden is an artist and instructor, and has been both a participant and judge in juried shows. But this was the first time watching it with a mixture of interest and idleness.

She described it as an “angst-producing process” but a helpful one.

“With juried shows, you put your artwork on the line, and you have to hope the judges see what you intended,” said Crittenden, who submitted photographs of the faces created by the placement of doors and windows on barns.

“I was trying very hard to not watch them, or pay attention to what they are saying,” she added. “I didn’t want to hear what they are saying about other people’s artwork. But I do want to hear what they say about mine. The way I see it, unless you work with other artists day-in and day-out, you don’t get that (level of) feedback.”

Around 40 pieces were chosen for the gallery, which will be revealed at a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia. With culling still to do, Pettigrew, Whitman and Hallock were making their third and fourth passes around the room, with each starting debates over the pieces only they had marked for discussion.

“In terms of what we’re looking for, it’s looking for technique, looking for concept, how well it fits the theme, how well it’s executed, the composition,” Whitman said. “Some pieces immediately catch your eye, with others it takes some time to appreciate what they were trying to accomplish.”

Even with no one listening, they spoke constructively. There is “good art and bad art,” Pettigrew noted, and art is subjective. But gaining the prestige of a jury selection takes quality.

In the bar gallery space staging a member’s show, Crittenden waited to see how it shook out. Getting her work into the gallery was the first goal, winning one of the categories the jury developed as they grouped pieces would be even better - the prestige carries a real value in selling pieces.

The same hopes of validation and increased exposure frame the exhibition. “Art of the Rural” is meant to be a sign of an expanding reach for the Batavia gallery and the Genesee and Orleans County-focused arts council behind it.

GO ART! Director Jennifer Gray said having a juried exhibition opened interest beyond members.

“Making it more regional, and not just from the two counties, was a way to get an alternative view and bring more outsiders here,” said Gray, who noted the gallery intends to stage shows by out-of-state artists next year. She was pleased by the variety of mediums and viewpoints the exhibition attracted.

“You can see in the theme, in art for the rural, that there’s artists paying omage to our agricultural scene, but putting different spins on it ... some things don’t seem necessarily ‘rural,’ but that’s their interpretation. It’s depends on where you’re form.”

By Jim Krencik, Batavia Daily News