Variety of art means tough task for art show judges
Good art can be a bad thing – especially if there are 400 pieces of it.When the Glenwood Springs Art Guild puts on next week’s Fall Art Festival, three judges will have to decide which piece of art deserves to be grand champion. “I feel sorry for anybody who has to judge (the show),” said Dan Young of Silt, a past grand champion of the show. “You can narrow it down to maybe 50 paintings,” he said, all of which could be a grand champion. “It’s going to take all day (to judge),” said judge Peggy Stenmark, who has judged shows before but none as large. The Fall Art Festival is one of the largest shows in the state, and likely the largest on the Western Slope. The show is non-juried, which means anyone can enter in categories from amateur (artists who may not even sell their art) to professional (artists who have degrees in art and have won at least two shows). The open competition draws artists from all over the Western United States.Judges have to deal with not only the number of entries in the show, but they also have to deal with the quality of the work. “It’s very difficult,” judge Mary Zimmerman said. “I’ve been to the show for years, and there is a lot of talent.”The judging could be made even more difficult by the fact that there are three judges, each with different preferences and who work in different mediums. The three have to come to a consensus on three categories of grand champions and reserve champions – a new experience for some of the judges.”With three (judges) maybe you get a chance to discuss some things and there’s some give and take,” said Stenmark, a painter from Evergreen. “I know the other two judges and the reputation of them, and I just hope I am equal to them,” said Zimmerman, a Paonia-based sculptor who, with her husband, owns the foundry Lands End Sculpture Center. And though the amount and quality of work at the show makes the judging difficult, judge Greig Steiner, who has team judged in the past, thinks it should be a painless process. “It moves along pretty quickly because people in the art world are pretty opinionated,” Steiner said.Double dutyAfter the judging is over on the first day of the festival, the judges still have a job to do. Each judge and last year’s grand champion each give a different demonstration on their technique.Zimmerman will talk about her foundry’s relationship with artists. Steiner will present a technique he created with poured enamel and oil paint. Steiner covers a surface with polished white enamel, then draws on it with enamel before coloring it with oil paint. “You have a very bright, colorful effect because the light is bouncing off the white enamel,” he said. “(The painting) will change color depending on the kind of light you have on it.”And Stenmark will present a technique called ink resist. She starts with a sketch, covers it with black ink and lets it dry, then washes the ink off before painting the paper with watercolor. “You get texture on you’re page that you can’t get any other way,” she said. “It has an old-fashioned wood block look.”Making a painting or piece of art at an art show isn’t the same as making one at home. Stenmark usually washes her paintings in her home studio, but this weekend she will have to use an outdoor hose. And for Young, who talks while he paints, said: “You usually end up talking too much … and they’re not the best paintings you have done in your life.”A stepping stoneThe non-juried Fall Art Festival can lead to bigger things for relatively unknown artists. “It can really open doors for you, because you never know who’s going to walk through there,” Young said. “There have been some high school students who have gotten in the show and are now very well-known artists,” Steiner said. Young, a two-time grand champion, may be one of those high school students. He has been showing in the Fall Art Festival since he was in high school, and though he’s been in other shows, other regions – and even other occupations – said, “My career has really taken off.””You starve for so long, but now I’m to the point that I can’t keep up with the gallery and show demands,” he said.”It’s very nice when your career gets to that point,” he said. ‘Sharp elbows’For spectators, the Fall Art Festival is a chance to see great art by professional and ammeter artists. All the work is for sale, and 25 percent of the proceeds go the Glenwood Springs Art Guild, which uses the money to support young artists and art education. A highlight of the festival actually happens the night before the festival opens. “Purchase patrons” are allowed to look at the art before anyone else, then have a “mad dash” at 8 p.m. to place a ribbon on the piece of art they like the most. The only requirement to become a purchase patron is a commitment to buy a piece of art during the show. The “mad dash” does lead to some excitement though.”It’s kind of like the start of a mile relay,” said Don Vanderhoof, who has been a purchase patron for most of the last 40 years. “They’re some sharp elbows,” he said.
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