The Knoxville Show, July 2013

July 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

I have been show­ing work in gal­leries since 2000, but almost always in solo exhi­bi­tions. There is a com­fort in the solo show — you know all the work that will be there, you have con­trol over the lay­out and the flow of view. Group shows, in con­trast, have seemed far more ter­ri­fy­ing. What if my work is the worst? What if my work is great but stuck in a dim cor­ner by the trash cans? Many vari­ables, lit­tle control.

Although my child isn’t old enough to go to school, I envi­sion the process of drop­ping him off on the first day of school and then pick­ing up after to be sim­i­lar to the process of a group show. When I dropped off my work, I got a quick glimpse of the other pieces but no real time too con­sider them and see if they will mesh well with my work. Will there be fun? Will friends be made? And then when the open­ing exhi­bi­tion comes around, it is time to see how the pieces all came together. Is your work a good fit, part of the com­mu­nity? Does it stand out (in an encour­ag­ing or dis­tract­ing way?) Will there be tears or laugh­ter in the reception?

Of course, for every solo oppor­tu­nity, there are ten or twenty (or a hun­dred) group shows call­ing for artists. And since I’d always rather my work be shown to the pub­lic than stacked in my stu­dio, I have been apply­ing dili­gently for exhi­bi­tions. And ear­lier this sum­mer I had the oppor­tu­nity to be part of a group show in Knoxville. Below is a photo I made of my sub­mit­ted print with a lit­tle con­text of place­ment and sur­round­ing pieces.

Work at Emporium, Knoxville July 2013

Work at Empo­rium, Knoxville July 2013

First off, I have to share that I didn’t win any of the eli­gi­ble prizes (Best in Travel cat­e­gory, Best of Show) but the pieces that did win were exquis­ite. I was very happy with the results of the juried com­pe­ti­tion. The win­ning pieces in my cat­e­gories were well com­posed, well exe­cuted and well printed. Kudos to them.

That said, the biggest sur­prise was the crowd. It was a well attended event (maybe two or three hun­dred atten­dees?) and my work had a fair amount of atten­tion. At least some of it was com­men­tary along the lines of “It’s just a bath­room cab­i­net, I could have done that” — which is admit­tedly some of the most qui­etly grat­i­fy­ing crit­i­cism out there. But I did over­hear some praise for the color rep­re­sen­ta­tion and detail to the tex­ture and form of the sub­ject. An expected mix.

Of those whose work as in the show, I’d say that forty of the fifty rep­re­sented artists attended the open­ing. And that is where I heard the most sur­pris­ing com­men­tary. The grip­ing from the pho­tog­ra­phers around the Best of Show piece — Som­merville #84 on the artist’s web­site — was astound­ing. “It’s just a bunch of black with a build­ing” or “Who cares about an auto shop” or “It is so bor­ing” …I sup­pose I should not have been sur­prised, but I def­i­nitely was dis­ap­pointed. One artist on the street was telling oth­ers walk­ing in “Don’t bother, they chose a stu­pid photo for the win­ner.” So, so sad that appre­ci­a­tion of work passed by for so many people.

All that said, I was def­i­nitely glad I sub­mit­ted and went to the exhi­bi­tion. It was a good excuse to get to Knoxville and check out down­town, make con­nec­tions with a few other artists, and see how my work looked hung and in con­text of other artists and their photography.

Thanks to the Empo­rium in Knoxville and the Knoxville Arts & Cul­ture Alliance for host­ing the show. It was great fun, and I was hon­ored to be a part of the exhibition.