by Jane Weinke, curator of collections
Monday I had the pleasure of looking at nearly a thousand digital images. Most people probably wouldn’t covet sitting in a dark room for eight hours, but for the three guests and four staff members coordinating and participating in the Birds in Art jury it was a remarkable day filled with “ahhhs,” laughter, light-hearted banter, and serious discussion.
Historically, Birds in Art is juried the first Monday of May. It is eagerly anticipated by staff but especially by artists. Facebook generated a bit of chatter from those wondering about the progress and eager to hear if their entry was selected for the 2013 exhibition.
This year’s jurors were: Tom Davis (author and editor, Green Bay, Wisconsin), Duane H. King (executive director, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma), and Cameron M. Shay (director, Graham Gallery, New York City). The three viewed 974 images by 605 artists, ultimately choosing the most creative and artistically rendered paintings, graphics, and sculptures to comprise the exhibition.
The process is simple – or so we think. First round, look at all the entries. This is a fairly quick look – a few seconds to view each work (artists can submit one or two works created in 2011, 2012, or 2013).
The task of round two is winnowing down the number of entries. Jurors slowly view all the artworks again to determine if they want to consider the artist in the final, voting round. Jurors are encouraged to discuss the images and ask questions to make thoughtful decisions. During the second round, staff provide the following basics: title, medium, and dimensions; artists’ names are withheld.
We keep the jurors well nourished with snacks and beverages throughout the day, and at the conclusion of round two, a late restaurant lunch provided a much-needed rest. It also allows staff time to prepare for the final round – voting.
For the final voting round, each juror assigns a score between 1 and 5 (one being low) to each artwork. The votes are tabulated and combined to get an overall score for each work. This viewing and voting sequence determines the approximately ninety works that will comprise the 2013 Birds in Art exhibition along with the work of past Master Artists and Terry Miller, the 2013 Master.