For many months, the committee for the San Antonio Art League’s 88th Juried Art Exhibition has been working toward yesterday’s event – the opening reception and award presentations. As President of the 106-year-old group (but truly unbiased) I gotta say that this show is a solid winner. Most of the 200 guests at the opening agreed. What an amazing, eclectic display of artwork in every media!
As I watched juror Michael Ettema, Santa Fe art appraiser and gallerist, select each piece back in February, I was very curious about his criteria. He said he looks for a strong concept and a strong execution of the idea. There didn’t seem to be a lot of connection between the works he was choosing, but when I saw the show in its entirety yesterday, I got it! This is from his juror’s statement – it’s well worth reading and remembering:
The quality of art must be measured by how well it performs its intended function. Making that judgment requires an understanding of the relationship between what I believe are the two fundamental components of art: vision and skill. Vision is the ability to imagine an aesthetic object that serves an expressive purpose, while skill is the technical ability to make that object effective in its purpose. Both are worthy and enjoyable by themselves, but in the most effective art they depend on each other and reinforce each other. Unskilled execution always distracts from and eventually discredits even the most profoundly creative vision. A display of technical virtuosity alone can be very exciting, but ultimately we lose interest because it lacks any insight that would nourish us emotionally or intellectually.
So, it has to start with an idea – and you have to be skilled enough to share that idea effectively. It’s not enough to look at a flower and paint a picture of it that resembles a photo – there has to be a “why” behind the effort.
Take a look at this video showing examples from the just-opened exhibit and see if you can see both the “why” and the “how” of the works.
I invite you to see the show in person. It’s a learning experience for sure. The San Antonio Art League is located at 130 King William Street (MAP) – free parking across the street (and a great lunch spot, The Station Cafe, just down the block). Admission is always free to SAALM, so bring some friends, see the exhibit, and get some lively conversation going about “What IS art, anyway?”.. You won’t be sorry!