The last show in what, for me, has been a breathless spate of exhibitions opened last night.
The Ohio Art League Fall Juried Show has become increasingly competitive throughout the years and submitting is always I’ll-just-give-it-a-shot for yours truly. It’s always a welcome surprise to be accepted.
Deciding what to submit is full of angst and neurotic fussing. There’s always an attempt to ‘suss out the jurors by researching their websites, but this activity almost never predicts what they’ll take and what they won’t. Word to the wise: don’t bother with time-wasting attempts to load the odds in your favor. Getting into a juried show is a mysterious process and just one more indication that life is a crap shoot. Frankly, acceptance might come down to nothing more than what the juror had for breakfast.
This particular show had a slight bump in the road before opening night. My original submission, “Little Sister” was accepted by the jurors but rejected by the venue as being too sexy for a public space. I was surprised by the first occurrence, but not the last. It’s come up before (the necessity of adding pasties to “Nude With Buzzard” for a library show comes to mind), but it’s always depressing. Memo to self: even though Beyonce goes around half naked most of the time, boobs are a forbidden object of contemplation for the young (Ft Hayes is a public high school).
It always feels bad to be rejected, for whatever reason, but a venue has the final say as to what goes up on its walls. I’m salvaging my ego by touting myself as a naughty old lady. “Banned in Columbus!” What’s not to like?
The strange thing is, “Lindsay With Dogs” looks better on the wall than “Little Sister” would have. I thought about telling viewers that the dogs were naked but thankfully thought better of it. Fellow artist Roger Williams suggested the Art League could have covered “Sister” with a sheet and charged people a quarter a pop as a fundraiser. Clever lad!
There is always more than a bit of neuroticism at an art opening. The painting which looked so dramatic on my drafting table seemed much smaller and less dramatic once it was in the show. As usual, there was nothing remotely like it in the rest of the cavernous room. I’ve always been an outlier but even at this stage in the game, it’s always a jolt when it’s brought to my attention. Showing your work always means showing yourself as you really are, not as you’d like to be. The thing nobody tells you about doing art is that even though you spend 99 percent of your time alone and sequestered from humanity by choice, art is no place to hide. It’s just another one of God’s jokes.
I didn’t have it in me to stand next to the piece and chat people up, but it was gratifying to see folks come in close and really look as I lurked in the background. Part of the reason for doing what I do is to stop viewers long enough to fall into the narrative world of the painting. Technique is a lure, not a final destination, and virtuosity is meaningless if it only takes you to itself.
The show is wide-ranging and strong, with only a few clunkers. I especially admired the quilt-like assemblage by Elham Bayati on the back wall behind these folks. It works far away and close up and…you could sell each piece individually if you wanted to, a great strategy. The opening was a great success, full of delightful conversation with fellow artists, who are the most down-to-earth people in the world. Those of us who work with our hands form a companionable fraternity based on mutual respect for human labor. This is the real reason art costs so much.
I’m working on two sketches: one a large hula girl dancing on the beach, and the other a modestly-sized depiction of a long-departed strip club in the old neighborhood. It feels good to have projects plotted out and ready to go. I’m getting closer and closer to being ready for another solo show.