I’m a supporter of ArtFields©, the art exhibition and competition that takes place in Lake City, SC, a small town in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. As far as the media goes, I’m one of their biggest supporter, but that doesn’t keep me from throwing in my 2 cents about what I think they’re doing wrong or could do better.
Right about the time they extended their deadline for its call for entries – a bad habit I wish they would get over – ArtFields© released info about the people who will be helping them select entries and then select the winners of the $110,000 in cash prizes. I support their call for entries, but will not let our readers of Carolina Arts and its related social media, know when they have extended their deadline for entries. It’s an insult for all those who made the original deadline. Letting in a few slackers in after the deadline is wrong.
It’s time that the people running ArtFields© understand that they need to work all year long to make their event successful and stop taking such long breaks after the event ends each year. They need to keep their foot on the gas peddle – marketing the event and encouraging artists to enter the event by deadline. If there is a problem with the entry process they need to fix it and ask artists what the problem is.
I also don’t agree with their selection of people who will be selecting entries and then selecting the winners – as most of them are from the states eligible for entries. These people know the work – by sight – of many of the people who enter and some of them probably called some of their artist friends and told them they should enter. This is another sign that the folks running ArtFields© don’t know much about the visual art community in general. No panelists or juror should be from any of the 12 states artists can enter from or have any connections to those states and the artists who live and work there.
Bradford R. Collins and David Houston are two very good examples of people who should not be in a position to select artists or determine awards. Their ties to artists in SC alone should have disqualified them from these positions. The results will be shown once the 400 are announced.
These important positions should be filled with arts professionals from the North West, Mid-West and North East of the US – folks as far away as possible from the Southeastern states.
The people ArtFields© selected smell too much like the SC Arts Commission – a group in my opinion ArtFields© should stay far away from if they want their event to grow and prosper. ArtFields© already suffers from a poor retention rate of people who entered one year but do not enter again. That’s a bad pattern making it hard to attract new entries each year – resulting in extended deadlines.
Also – this list of people making entry selections and award selections should be identified before entry time lines begin, not as selections are closing. Another bad habit of the SC Arts Commission, who once told me they do it that way so artists don’t threaten jurors to pick them or else. Or else what? Is that really a problem when it comes to juried shows? And, if it is – it’s just another good reason for selecting people outside – far outside the area of artists who can enter.
So here’s the 2016 list of Panelists and Jury Members
Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor Art History, School of Visual and Design University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC
Stephanie Mayer Heydt, PhD, Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
David Houston, Director, Bo Bartlett Center, College of the Arts, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA
Graham Boettcher, chief curator and The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL. Boettcher was previously a curatorial fellow at the Yale University Art Gallery, and has held research fellowships at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Terra Foundation Summer Residency in Giverny, France.
Stephanie Cash, editor of BURNAWAY – The Voice of Art in the South magazine in Atlanta, GA. Cash contributes to such publications as Art in America, Photograph, and Modern Painters, and has also worked as a free-lance writer and editor for ArtsATL.com, Rizzoli, and Prestel publishers.
Kimberly Light, co-founder and partner of Connelly & Light Art Advising Firm, a full service art advisory, curatorial, collections management company based in LA and NYC.
Emily Smith, executive director of 1708 Gallery; a non-profit gallery committed to providing opportunities for artistic innovation for emerging and established artists and to expanding the understanding and appreciation of new art for the public. Smith, of Richmond, VA, was the Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Leslie Umberger, a curator and art historian of American art, specializing in the work of folk, self-taught, and vernacular artists. In 2012 Umberger was appointed as inaugural Curator of Folk and Self-taught Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is currently organizing a major retrospective for the Alabama artist Bill Traylor (1843-1949), which will open in the spring of 2018 in Washington, DC.