What is good art? Well that depends on you, your preferences and tastes. Art, first and foremost does not exist to be political!Yes, yes it has been made a tool for division. Art is subjective. Go ahead, say it is hideous and walk away.
I have been painting since I was seven. I’ve won awards since they started giving out awards. From 8th to 12th grade I won the “art award.” At college graduation I almost, literally, fell over when they announced “most creative“ and called my name. My mom can vouch for me… I stumbled! In 2006 we moved to North Carolina. I applied for an art grant with Brunswick County Art Council and won! I had to submit art examples, a plan for what I would do with the money and what I would complete within a year. My Southern Series came out of this. It’s good to have deadlines and goals to fuel your inspiration.
A number of years ago I hung artwork at a prestigious Charleston, South Carolina art gallery for a fundraiser. I raised my prices and they still didn’t compare to the majority of the artists there. I had the only painting that sold and donated half to the organization. Yes, it was one of my most popular paintings but everyone else had ridiculous prices (some extraordinary work!) but were only donating 10% …The difference between me and the other artists was that I was in it for the charity and they were in it for the chance to hang at this gallery. The gallery was my bonus. As I always say “art starts a conversation.” People know about my rare disease, acromegaly, because I talk about it, put out information design about it and talk about it in my Artist bio. I do not paint it! The organization doing the fundraiser dealt with the dysautonomia. I’ve learned so much and can speak on the subject. I came in as a designer and an artist because I wanted to help. See, art is subjective. It has many purposes to each artist. Mine is capturing memories and starting a conversation.
A year or so later I started applying for juried shows. I was accepted to more than half the shows I applied for my first year. This was unexpected! There is a prestigious historic home in Connecticut, Lockwood Mathews Mansion that has a few art shows a year. You may only show there once so all area artists have the opportunity. However, one of my paintings “Forgotten Railways Still Tell Tales“ fit the theme of their winter show. I had applied for the fall show. They invited me to add another painting for the spring show and hold back my train tracks painting for the winter show. There are always exceptions to the rule and I was in both shows. Such an honor.
That year I even won a “Judge’s Choice” for “Spring Fig.” Shocked and excited! I never thought in my first year of entering juried shows, I would do anything more than be, fingers crossed, accepted to a few.
I continued on and was accepted to several more including a few honorable mentions.
I applied for less and less because I don’t like the political themes. I do not like clauses that give special preferences for acceptances based on a class of people… But not the disabled. Disability has been part of my life for 25 years. It is my stumbling block for consistency. It’s not about motivation it’s about ability. But I am disabled. The disabled, in all forms, are the largest minority in the world. Talk about discrimination.
I started reading more about the jurors or juror. One juror is a no–go for me. I read their bios and look at their art. After trying a few because of the theme and details of the show, then not getting in any of those single juror shows, I realized a trend. The jurors! Why? Because Art is subjective! They like what they like! It is as simple as that. Does that make them bias– heck yeah! It’s actually OK! Because Art is subjective! You need to know what you’re getting into. You need to know who the jurors are and see what they have to say for themselves in their bio. You can tell very quickly those who will be open minded and those who are only going to pick their style of art, their political views or any other soap box they stand on.
So then what? I kept reviewing all juried shows. Do I qualify regionally? Is it online or in person? If it is in person, can I really afford to frame all of these now? What will the turnout be? Are there potential buyers or are they just friends of the other artists?
Where are the buyers, collectors, art lovers and supporters? This is still something I’m working on discovering.
There were less and less shows in 2020. We all know why. All the nonsense! When juried shows started coming back I noticed a drastic change. They were charging 4 to 5 times more than before the shut down! Hustlers got a hustle! If it was originally $30 to $50 to enter 6 to 10 paintings it is now $40 for 1 to 2 paintings and $5 to $10 per additional submissions. You don’t get into every show, so you’re putting out hundreds of dollars for a maybe and a few glances by others if you do get in. And still, where are the buyers?
I only did a few last year. I did enter a public juried show. International, online and votes by real people, verifying their email, only one vote— unlike a Facebook fiasco. Right out of the gate I was in second place. It was the first day. In a couple of days the first place painting had almost all its views and votes removed (online voting can be such a scam but they took care of it). They removed the fake votes and I soared to the top. I stayed there the whole month and the rest of the year. When 2022 hit is was officially closed and they sent me prize money! I never read there was a prize! I don’t know how or why. I don’t know where they found the show or where they were from but “Spirituality of the Bee“ stayed in first place by more than double the next Artist. This is where some analytics would certainly be helpful!
I believe when I leave it to the masses, My work suits most. Back to the juried shows, right now the most popular chosen works are abstract. I’m not talking about skilled artist who break it all the way down to the abstract but Jackson Pollock copycats. I hate Jackson Pollock. He was a hack. He was a disgusting human being. Not only do basic facts about this man hold up to him being an degenerate but Art is Subjective! I don’t have to like Renoir if I don’t want to… but I am a sucker for a Lovely Renoir.
I don’t do abstracts. I did one in college because I would have failed a required, one credit course for freshman to get acquainted in art school nonsense. I made up a story for myself. Played with paint, told said story, got an A. (Insert eye roll).
I do love so many forms of art. Art I am not interested in doing myself or I am not capable of creating.
My website bio tells exactly why I paint, why I’ve always painted and what it has evolved to! “For Kara, the act of oil painting is personal and meditative. But in a moment when an oil painting is declared finished, it instantly enters the world for all” (found home page). “Kara’s passion for art has never waned over the years, and she has focused on painting as a private meditation and personal joy. She does not allow the reality of living with acromegaly into her art, but rather focuses on memories and positive feelings that she hopes will speak to those who see her work. She continues to work with nonprofits and socially responsible businesses, while continuing to work with oils and watercolor.” (found in bio)
People do connect! My memory triggers one of their memories and the painting bring some joy. It is as simple and as satisfying as that.
We are memory keepers. Art is a joy for me. I know so many paint ugly (on purpose) images as therapy, to shock, to upset… Nope, not me. I want something I can get lost in and take the focus off my pain. When finished, something to gaze at in silence, find peace, remember and elicit joy and bring about calm.
I can say all of this because Art is Subjective.
I’m taking on a new venture this January of learning Reels on Instagram. I’m not sure where it will take me. I’m not sure it will find me my people, who connect with my art and who are actual buyers. But in a chronic illness body one thing that’s always important is to keep moving forward. To keep exploring and creating. …Finding my buyers would be sweet but it doesn’t stop the creativity!