I wrote a blog post about my dislike of ArtFields© selecting locally connected people to jury in artists from the 12 Southeastern states eligible for entry into ArtFields©. You can find it at (http://carolinaarts.com/wordpress/2015/12/28/some-info-and-opinions-about-artfields-in-lake-city-sc/).
Two of the three members of the jury panel were:
Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor Art History, School of Visual and Design University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.
David Houston, Director, Bo Bartlett Center, College of the Arts, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA,
Both have heavy connections to SC’s visual artists. What they left out of Houston’s description was that he was the former Visual Art Coordinator at the SC Arts Commission for many years.
The third juror was: Stephanie Mayer Heydt, PhD, Margaret and Terry Stent, Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.
And as I predicted, out of the 775 entries made, including having an extended deadline, 248 are from SC out of the 382 selected to show at ArtFields© 2016. This might be a good reason why so few artists are submitting entries from the other 11 states. But you can only select artists from the pool that enters and more artists from SC enter than any other state – by a long shot.
The full list of accepted artists can be viewed at (http://www.artfieldssc.org/artists/list-of-artfields-2016-accepted-artists/).
The breakdown of the states is as follows:
AL – 14
AR – 2
FL – 6
GA – 20
KY – 0
LA – 8
MS – 3
NC – 57
SC – 248
TN – 16
VA – 7
WV – 1
A total of 382
The number of entries from 2015 was 1,061, which also had an extended deadline. The entries for 2016 were 775 – 27% less than 2015 – that’s 286 less artists who entered last year.
The press release that announced the artists selected to participate in ArtFields© 2016 didn’t mention the fact that the entries – even with another extended deadline was 27% down from 2015. So I requested that info and received it promptly.
It’s not ArtFields©’ job or the agency they hired to help them with marketing to point out bad news and since they offered it as soon as I asked, they were not trying to hide it either. But this is a sign of several bad trends that ArtFields© will need to correct.
As I have mentioned before, an art competition organized by Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC, called Carolina’s Got Art! seems to attract a large number of artists from just North and South Carolina – just under 1,000 for its 2015 event – with much less money being offered. The reasons for this are many, but I’m not going into this right now. But someone at ArtFields© could do themselves a big favor by inviting Larry Elder to Lake City as a consultant.
I’m still amazed at how few artists from NC are making it into the final selection of artists who will be on display. I don’t have a breakdown telling how many artists entered from each state, but I would assume that it’s close in relationship to how many got in the final cut. I did do a breakdown of those who got in and where they are from.
North Carolina is more developed as far as the visual arts go compared to South Carolina – more populated too, with more big cities and the number of artists who made the cut from these cities is shocking. Here they are from most to least:
Charlotte – 11
Asheville – 5
Wilmington – 5
Chapel Hill – 2
Raleigh – 1
Greensboro – 0
Durham – 0
Winston-Salem – 0
All of these cities have very large visual art communities and it’s hard for me to think that a $50,000 top cash award is not worth their effort to enter ArtFields©. There is a total of $110,000 in cash awards.
Winston-Salem calls themselves the “City of Arts and Innovation” – someone needs to tell them about ArtFields©.
So, what’s the problem – lack of marketing, entry process too hard, too many SC artists in the competition, regional jealousy, fact that top prize is also connected to a popular vote (a heavy advantage to SC artists), too far to deliver work or visit, Lake City just too small, lazy artists, etc.?
Think about it folks – Carolina’s Got Art! with a top award of $5,000 attracted just under 1,000 entries from 2 states and ArtFields© with a $50,000 top award attracts 775 entries from 12 states.
I don’t have hours and hours to go over this problem, much less the days and weeks it might take to really discover what the problem is – I have a publication to put out, but I like ArtFields© and I admire a small town in SC trying to revitalize their city by using the visual arts. I don’t have a clue as to how much work is going into this effort during the whole year or if this is just over their heads. The visual art community is not easy to understand or figure out. I’ve been trying to do that for almost 30 years and on a daily basis I have to scratch my head and wonder.
But I can figure out that something is wrong when a competition that involves artists from 12 states has only 2 artists from Arkansas and 8 from Louisiana – which both had top winners in previous events, and 0 from Kentucky.
Was there no news in Arkansas or Louisiana that they had an artist who won $50,000 at an art competition in South Carolina? That’s news here in SC – at least at Carolina Arts.
Now for the nit-picking part.
I’ve got a problem with the way people throw around numbers in the arts. Like when the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston used to say and got the media to keep repeating for years that it attracted over 100,000 people to Charleston, but usually only sells 60,000 tickets. It’s amazing how they do that. That’s a lot of free tickets given away or just make believe numbers that the media is to lazy to check out. That statement isn’t used much after I pointed out the ticket sales one year.
In the press release I received from Chernoff Newman, the marketing firm in Columbia, SC, ArtFields© hired, late in the season, to help them out, there were a few funny statements, The first was: “… the accepted artists will exhibit nearly 400 works of art,…” and a little later in the release it offers a statement from ArtFields© that says, “… the 2016 event will offer more than 400 pieces of world-class, southern art,…”. Doesn’t anyone edit these press releases. It’s got to be more or less – it can’t be both. And in 2015 and 2016 the actual number of artists on display was 383 and 382 more or less. So where does the 400 number come from?
On the list of artists selected from ArtFields© 2016 it had a statement in red which said, “Special Note: This list is subject to change”, which could make you wonder, but I know some artists don’t show up for some reason or another – really screwing other artists who were next on the cut-off list. Someone might show up with work that doesn’t represent what they submitted as an entry and be disqualified – again screwing other artists. And, I know I saw at least one artist who was listed as living in NC, but I think still lives in SC – it could be that kind of change. But for the 393 artists who didn’t make the cut – did this statement give them hope? I wonder. I don’t know if they call an artists in at the last minute, but even if they do they won’t be included in the promotional catalog.
Another little tidbit. I did check out the new list with the 2015 list of artists accepted. And, in checking just a little more than 10% of last years list (42 artists) 11, about 26%, got back in the competition. I’m not going to leap to the conclusion that 74% of last year’s artists didn’t make it in because that number could change drastically and some may not have re-entered. I kept hearing a lot of artists say they were one and done for various reasons. One being the fact that they were tired of seeing the deadline extended and others didn’t like the fact that local jurors were making the selections of who would be in and who would win cash awards. Turnover is OK – we don’t want to see the same people in the exhibit every year, but you would prefer that any turnover is due to having different jurors and the artists keep entering year after year because they think ArtFields© is a great opportunity. Some artists will always make the cut – they’re that good at what they do, but when good artists stop entering – that’s not good.
But, here’s the good news. From what I saw of the list and my knowledge of NC and SC artists who made the cut – it’s going to be another interesting show worth seeing. And, I can’t wait until March when we get to see the work these artists will be bringing to Lake City on ArtFields©’s online gallery.
To those artists who made the cut – congratulations. You will be seen and have the opportunity to win some money or an exhibit and untold intangible rewards. Someone might buy your work.
So what’s the purpose of this blog entry – history, observation, information and concern. I’m still a supporter of ArtFields© and I want it to succeed – regardless if they ever do another paid ad with us or not. It’s not that much money one way or another, but SC’s visual artists need something like this – even if too many from our state are included out of the 12 state field. I want ArtFields© to continue and improve.
ArtFields© 2016 takes place Apr. 22-30, 2016, in Lake City, SC. Make plans now to attend. For further info about all the activities that will take place, besides all the exhibited art, visit (www.artfieldssc.org).