Sour Grapes, or The Value of Rejection from Juried Shows

I got to attend the opening of the 2017 ViewPoint show last night, after having my own submission rejected by the three-person jury.

It's a pretty good show. I recommend you see it, at the Greenwich House Gallery in O'Bryanville. Jeff Morrow's terrific portrait won best in show. If I disagree with their blackballing my picture, I highly agree with their selection of Jeff's picture for the grand prize.

There was a lot of cool stuff to see. Was some of it inferior to my own rejected piece? Yeah, I think so. But herein lies some of the benefit of juried shows like this. Who cares what I think? If it's a matter of opinion whether my stuff should have been included, then this is another way of saying that I need to try harder, a whole lot harder. The judgment of three contemporaries can be tough, but the judgment of future generations is going to be downright brutal. If I want to do work that will endure fifty years from now, or five hundred years from now, then what I paint dare not be as good as some of the pictures selected for ViewPoint. It needs to be hugely, obviously, frighteningly better.

The Beatles spent years playing in German strip clubs. The money was terrible and the audience wasn't paying much attention. These gigs were their "juried shows", and they learned to play much better than their contemporaries because the judgment of the Hamburg "jurors" was not positive. They made up their minds and rose above it.

We don't yet know everything about visual perception, or about how pictures can carry the illusion of reality to the superlative degree. Were I, or anyone else who entered the ViewPoint competition, able to travel back to the fourteenth century, our pictures would be considered impossibly real. We have a greater technology of image making behind us.

Paint like someone visiting from the year 2717 and it will be tough to find a jury anyplace that won't award you best in show. Don't be arguably as good as the pictures which made it into the juried show. Instead, be 700 years better.

Maybe next time. In the meantime, my congratulations, Jeff. You earned it.