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Re: What is art - judging work

It can be intimidating, and generally is for anyone involved, judges as
well as entrants. I've been involved with organizing/jurying shows and
participating. I've had people cry when their work didn't get in, and been
upset when mine was rejected. It's a part of life. It is also very
necessary. It should also be educational, with in some cases reasons given.
Some of the criteria are:

* Quality of workmanship (that dang craft aspect)
* Quality/uniqueness of materials (letterpress / illustration technique...
vs. rebound paperback)
* Theme of the show
* Creativity/design aspects (visual appeal...)
* For many shows the number of entrants exceeds the number there is room
for (the realities of the show)
* The need to show the highest levels of the art/craft

Sometimes when a show is curated those curating will be looking for
something specific, and work will be selected that fits that criteria.
Other times it will be open, i.e. anything can be submitted, but it still
needs to meet some/all of the criteria.

A nicely crafted buckram covered book might be suitable for a student entry
in a local show, but doesn't really have a place in the larger context of
fine binding and artist's books. The skills necessary to craft it well are
the stepping stones to creating finer work. The same techniques with
different materials (for instance 1/4 cloth binding with hand decorated
sides, or why not all hand decorated paper) might create a much more
interesting book.

When I began as Exhibitions Chair for the Guild of Book Workers, the first
show I organized was called Fine Printers Finely Bound, Too. The criteria
were that we were looking for unique or edition bindings on well crafted
(printing, illustration...) texts. What I was trying to get away from was
having people buy trade books and rebind those. It's something every has
done, and on occasion I still do, but the goal was to raise the overall
level of the work. We had wonderful range of work, from drop-dead full
leather... bindings to simple but very elegant pastepaper covered bindings.
For the next show we wanted to highlight the art of papermaking and it's
application in bookbinding. The result was Paper Bound. That was a set book
show, so we all bound the same piece. Again, a criteria for selection.

While I empathize with those fears of those contemplating entering,
curating/judging is a necessary part of planning exhibitions. Without it,
we would quickly find the level of work exhibited pulled down to the lowest
common denominator, and our viewers expectations as well. In our
exhibitions, we need to display something out of the ordinary, however we
choose to define "ordinary."


>While I admire and revere Richard, It is precisely this type of
>"Power" in the Book Arts community which intimidates me.
>Why can't we just make books (not to be confused with the
>viced "bookie") for the sake of making them and making
>them beautifully?  Why must we compete?  Judge or be
>judged?  Surely some will excel far beyond the pale of the
>ordinary, but shouldn't something be said for the well bound
>simply covered (in buckram), with somewhat creative
>lines and titling?

Philobiblon: Book Arts, Different By Design
Hand Binding, Conservation, and Project Websites
Peter D. Verheyen
<Fax: 612.632.3718>

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