Thursday, January 31, 2008

Best of Missouri Hands

I got the phone call last Friday, but the official letter came yesterday: I'm now a juried member of Best of Missouri Hands! It's the art group that sets the standard for excellence among Missouri's artists and craftspeople.

When I applied a few years ago, I thought it would be a slam dunk! I had a nice body of work, thought I was well respected among other artists, I had won a few awards, my craftsmanship was above average, even my mother starting liking my work!

Rejected! I was shocked. Dismayed. Deflated.

Ok. Really I was just a little annoyed and embarrassed. I thought my work was good enough. I think it didn't help that one juror didn't understand that my work was an alternate process photographic art form. Oh well. I blew if off.

All right. I didn't blow it off. It bothered me. And I wanted to improve the body of work enough to be juried in. And I started getting questions over the last few years from other artists: why aren't you juried into Best of Missouri Hands? The jury should love your work. Apply again!

I hesitated because I didn't want to repeat the rejection. Best of Missouri Hands IS the best. There are only 23 photographers in the state who have met the criteria. It's a lot tougher than I thought to get in. The artist ego is fragile. Rejection is not something that is missing in my life.

The jurors were tough. The scoring sheets showed that one juror had lots of questions about the originality and pizazz of my subject matter. Something else to work on! Fortunately, the other two jurors found enough merit, though all three voted my acceptance. The jurors are anonymous -- at least to me -- so I can only thank them publicly. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


People die from that, don't they?

That's the joke in the art world. A well meaning charity worker approaches an artist. We're raising money, she says, and we'd like you donate some of your wonderful artwork to the auction. It will be great exposure!

I'm a photographer. I know quite a lot about exposure. Too little, and nothing can be seen. Too much, and you're ruined -- overblown, blinded.

Exposure must be dead on. Composition and subject matter are nothing if the exposure is wrong.

The same goes for artists: too little exposure and only your mom thinks you're good (even if she doesn't quite understand it.) Too much exposure and you're not special anymore.

It's become very popular for nonprofit organizations to ask artists to donate work. The attitude seems to be that the group is doing us a favor! All these people will see our work! Baloney! The fact is, all this donated work doesn't bring the promised exposure -- it just devalues the work of the art.

With few exceptions, I prefer not to donate art to auctions because I'm not interested in giving my work away. I respect my work and I truly respect my collectors. Art is valuable and should be treated with respect. So should the artists.

We could debate for hours why art and artists aren't respected in this country. Really? You thought we were? Ask an artist for a honest opinion. Chances are more people think he or she falls into one of three categories: a trust-funder of independent means, a part-timer who married to someone with a good job, or a hobbyist. Art is still thought of as frivolous or inaccessible or unimportant. If it's not a "pretty picture," is it still art?

Art saves lives. Art makes us think. Art moves us beyond ourselves. Art changes the world.

As my dear friend, sculptor Ilene Berman often notes: If it doesn't, what's the point?

What's the point, indeed.

So what are the exceptions for donating art? Lots of art fairs ask for a donation to put in the children's tent, where children can buy fine art for $5 or $10. I think that's a great idea. Their parents aren't allowed in the children's art tent so the kids get to chose a piece for themselves. To empower a child and educate him or her about art is the best idea to come out of art fairs in long time. Kids often come back to my booth with the piece they chose, so proud and happy. They have learned the excitement of beginning an art collection of their own.

Also, I will donate to a group that I have a strong connection to. Or I might donate a gift certificate. If I don't know the organization or don't care about the issue, why should I donate? I won't. Make your case and change my mind, but don't expect me to give you work for the "exposure."

If I don't value my work, no one else will either. I won't just give it away.

(Image posted is Icy, (C) 2007 Jeane Vogel Photography)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Two New Exhibits

It's great to start off January with two new exhibits, including some brand new work!

Let's Skip the Chrysalis has been accepted into the most recent Art St. Louis exhibition, which opens with an artist reception on Jan. 20. ASL shows are getting more competitive all the time and I am so pleased to included again. For this show there were 147 artworks submitted by 86 artists. Only 55 works by 53 artists were selected for exhibition.

The exhibit runs January 21-February 28, 2008 in the Art Saint Louis Main Gallery.

If Wishes Were Horses... appears in Magic Silver, a nationally juried photography exhibition at Eagle Art Gallery on the campus of Murray State University in Murray, KY. The exhibition also opens with an artist reception Jan 20 and runs through Feb. 22.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

I spent New Year's Day in the studio. What better way to anticipate a great year of making art than to work in the studio?

I never forget what a luxury it is to have separate studio space. Some of my work is done in a home studio, but it's not the same as having a studio in a separate location. Mine is especially nice because it's in Ilene and Scott's backyard -- where there seems to be an endless supply of beer in the fridge, coffee in the pot and friendship all around -- not necessarily in that order.

So I spent the day throwing pots. Sometimes I get surprised looks: you're a potter too? I'm a firm believer that an artist should have more than one medium, but I do not claim to be a clay artist. Sure, I can throw a passable pot. You can drink from my cups, serve from my bowls and even pour tea from my teapots (OK -- those ARE hard to do!) But I throw more to stretch my ideas beyond the flat two- dimensions I normally work in. Since I do this for a living, I don't want my work to get stale or my art to become drudgery. It still has to mean something! And it has to evolve.

Besides, I love playing in the dirt!

It was after one of my recent throwing sessions I thought about some images I made last summer -- those I had rejected. After looking at them from a perspective of a different medium, Hidden emerged. It's the first new work for 2008. This image is all about perspective. The rocks loom larger than expected. Are those boulders or pebbles in the foreground? Where did that mountainous rock come from? Where is the sun that the sky could be lit from such an angle? Or is the rock just a stepping stone?

Hidden projects my primary resolution for the new year: to challenge the expected perspective and look from different angles.