The Gilpin County Art Exhibit is Colorado's longest running Art Exhibit and is located in Central City, Colorado. This year I was honored by being asked to juror the photography entries in the show. I, along with two other jurors - Chris Alvarez, an accomplished oil painter from Colorado Springs, and Nancy Condit, an accomplished water color artist and owner/operator of a gallery in Denver had the privilege of getting the first peek at all the great work hung in the old Central City Jail that had been turned into an art gallery years ago.
At the conclusion we were asked to make juror's statements, to be printed in the catalog. I thought a lot about what to say - especially because it would be in print therefore hanging around a while. It seemed trite to simply say "congratulations..." to everyone. There were many pieces which were not chosen for the opening and i's tough to do that - to look at a piece of art someone has poured themselves into, and deem it not right for the event for whatever reason - then placate them with some benign platitude. My goal became to congratulate those who's work was chosen, and encourage those who's work was not. It takes guts to submit your work to be judged, and I want to commend anyone who takes that step.
Here is what I wrote:
Over the past 10-12 years or so, photography has undergone a tremendous revolution. Due to the pervasiveness of a capable-enough digital camera in so many aspiring photographer's hands it is now possible to shoot between 3 and 12 frames per second of - literally - anything. Attempting to define what's worthy of a photograph and what is not - is a losing proposition. I tend to lean towards William Eggleston's "Democratic Camera" philosophy: "Everything's worthy of a picture - but nothing is worth more than one frame" (maybe two or three if you're bracketing). John Szarkowski said in his introduction to William Eggleston's famous book Guide, "It's not easy for the photographer to compete with the clever originality of mindless, mechanized cameras, but the photographer can add intelligence."
It used to be that images presented as viewable appeared to be products of some mystical combination of emotional response, creative vision, technical aptitude, a creative (or otherwise) statement, years of education, a lifetime of training one's eye - and that certain "something extra" that moved an image into the realm of intrigue. Today we're bombarded with 10's of BILLIONS of images made simply because we're able to. Recently National Geographic reported the number of digital photographs made in 2006 was 53 billion; in 2011 was 80 billion and in 2015 is projected to be 105 billion. That's a lot of pictures. So what makes one of these 10's of billions of photographs stand out? What causes one to stop in front of an image - if only for a moment - and think? Feel? Wonder? That is the challenge before those who pursue the art of photography today.
Thank you to all who had the courage to submit your work to this year's Gilpin County Fine Art Exhibit. As an artist it can be intimidating to openly expose your creative vision to evaluation by others. Thank you all sincerely for having the courage to do so. As jurors, I see our role as both encourager and rewarder of the exploration of excellence. To those who had photographic prints accepted, a sincere congratulations. Your images caused us as jurors to stop, think, feel and/or wonder. To those who's images were not accepted, our hope as jurors is that you'll be encouraged and challenged all the more to strive for excellence in pursuing the art form that is photography. In that pursuit of excellence, everyone wins."