Blog: Democracy In Art aka Being Juried by a Working Artist

Christine Alfery

Posted on March 01 2018

Blog: Democracy In Art aka Being Juried by a Working Artist

 Featured image: Cliff

Juror, #Jerry McLaughlin recently judged the #National Abstract Exhibition for the #Mary R. Koch Arts Center in #Wichita, KS. As usual the Arts Center listed Jerry's credentials for judging the exhibition. I am commenting on this because his credentials are different than most judges, he has been working as a visual artist for 20 years. He is an expert in all aspects of cold wax medium, but he is also a teacher, writer and pediatric intensive care physician. Isn't art wonderful - I love the differences presented in the judge and Iove the fact that he is so unnormal, and very unique and original. I went to his website after I was notified that he had accepted my painting "Cliff" into this exhibition. Here is what is home page states:

"...there is a thematic connection between McLaughlin’s work and the late paintings of Mark Rothko. McLaughlin’s formal concerns and interest in stratigraphy aligns him with artists who have explored the possibilities of encrustation including Antoni Tàpies and Milton Resnick. It is also worth mentioning that there is an underlying sculptural impulse in McLaughlin’s surfaces, so that comparing his paintings to Richard Serra’s vast black oilstick drawings isn’t out of the question: McLaughlin and Serra share a commitment to materiality as a metaphor."


So he is a spiritualist also. I am honored to have such an open, unnormal judge judge my work and to have had it accepted into this great exhibition. Jerry McLaughlin, like the other judge I spoke about a couple of blogs ago, who said that "art is not democratic" and that he did not judge the exhibition I was rejected in democratically. Some of you thought I was disappointed in the rejection, I wasn't. I get way more rejections than acceptances in the process of competing for a space in an exhibition. I am fine with that - it is part of the process. Like all of life - it has it's ups and downs and if I let all the rejections I get upset me I would stop doing what I do. It's a journey.  


But what is cool about these two judges, they place a value on art - art needs to be valued. If one accepts that value changes then one is inclined to think the judge who judged undemocratic ally, and only allowed technically proficient work realities work into the exhibition, and didn't value, individuality, self, authenticity in a work, has better values for art than Jerry McLaughlin. But I believe art changes, and the values one attaches to art also change. I believe as I have said before, art builds from a foundation, the foundations that the non democratic judge was holding on to strongly. Artist create from these foundations, and it is easy for just about any one to learn them. It is when the artist's soul and self are apparent in the artwork that one can no longer rely on foundations. For me the work of Jerry McLaughlin, is filled with so much of who he is and what he values, his self and his values ooze out of his work and out of his judging process. Hooray for the undemocratic process - as I understand it it is filled with diverse artists and souls like Jerry's. And not filled with, as the undemocratic judge suggests, a well rounded exhibition will will diversity but poor art.  

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