Impressions 2020, Ice House Gallery, Mayfield KY
Juror's Statement
November 17, 2020

John D McLaren

When I first was asked to judge this show I was determined not to.  As I told Nanc - "I am not qualified". But, Nanc is very persuasive (bless her heart), so I committed myself to giving it a shot.

I used to think if I was ever to judge an art show I would try to decide how much time was put into the work. That approach assumes that I would know the techniques necessary to execute each piece, as well as skills that the artist has developed over time. Of course, to have that depth of understanding is impossible. Each piece of work is a representation of the artist's full life experiences. That kind of dedication cannot be quantified. In fact, 'quantifying' art is a fool's parade.

So, before I came to this show I decided to identify to myself what I was going to look for. I have listed them here. I don't pretend that this list is what constitutes 'good' art.  It is biased opinion. Art, like life, is always biased.

1. I want to see a mix of 'lost' and 'found' lines. When the eye focuses on something close, objects in the distance are out of focus, and vice versa - like setting depth of field on a camera lens.

2. I want to see an imbalance, even a dominating ratio in chroma range, value range, and the mixture of shapes and lines.

a) Mouse versus bright.  Each piece using color has a range of chroma. I like to see most of that range to be what I call 'mousy' - low chroma, with high chroma becoming the accents.  As a corollary to this, I prefer a simple palette.

b) I also am looking for the same ratio in the values - I will look for the ends of the value spectrum to be the accents.

c) Again, in the mix of shapes and lines - contours and edges.

3. I want the work to attract me from a distance. When I get close, I want it to reveal something new.  Often this can just be texture, or subtle variations in an otherwise monochrome area.

4. Finally, I will look for emotion, though I'm not sure how I will recognize it. I hope it will just happen. Art should be subtle yet daring; humble but assertive. It needs to have the randomness of nature and the emotion of being human. It should always try to make the viewer see something that isn't there - whether emotional or physical. Does the piece make me want to talk to the artist about it?

Most of these points do not apply well to 3D art forms.  I have zero references for judging these. I'll bring a coin. 

Anyone displaying their art is brave.  Art is a personal expression. The only honest feedback you can get from your art is what IT gives you, not what someone else thinks of it. What I choose to award is not a reflection on your art or style - it is a reflection on me.

MYSELF.  I've been an artist at heart since I was very young, but pursued a more lucrative direction and ended up in the sciences.  My brain moved from right to left somewhere in my 20's. I've been trying to derail it in the other direction ever since I retired.  It's not easy at my age. I have abandoned realism with watercolor and tried to find my other track with total abstraction.  My goal is to let the unique characteristics of watercolor pigments direct my art.  I feel a need to maintain randomness, yet let my math and engineering side influence that randomness.  Refusing to rely on a pre-visualized image has been very liberating. Each day of play seems to bring me a little closer to my sane side. Or is it old age? The point is simple - Do art for YOURSELF!

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