moca home all entriesJudge's Statement by JD Jarvis
Bringing What to Whom
Tears of Sherazade
Wrong Place Wrong Time
Honorable Mention #1
Honorable Mention #2
Hybrid Memory #17: On the Maple Valley Fuel Truck
Honorable Mention #3
Honorable Mention #4
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Honorable Mention #5
Russell E. Cleversley
The Final Salute
Even under normal circumstances winnowing 138 artworks down to just 8 finalists is a daunting task for me. Given the overall quality of the entries into this year's annual "Donnie Award" my task was even harder. What is different about this year is that while expertise with digital tools and processes remained high the more esoteric conditions that determine what makes for strong Art (in my opinion) were also more prevalent across the board. Indicating perhaps a certain degree of maturity or at least increased knowledge or concern about Art beyond the manipulation of a certain set of tools. At any rate it seemed harder than before to make a judge's decisions.
I am glad that Don Archer does not send me the names of the artists, but rather supplies me with a folder of anonymously number jpegs. I do not want to play favorites with artists that I know. However, in all truth there are a handful of artists among the MOCA collections that having "found their voice" and now create work that has become as recognizable as a signature. Just a rapid review of the complete folder of entries tells me that I have within the "anonymous" collection artists such as Werner Hornung, Shige Yamada, Jay Wilson, Troy Eittreim, Ansgard Thomson, Renata Spiazzi. I have "e-relationships" with some of these folks. I have met only Renata personally. In some cases, such as Werner Hornung, I have had the honor to be asked to write an introduction to the catalog of his recent exhibition(s) that has traveled through Europe, South America and China.
This poses a real dilemma for me. Because of the quality of their work each of the artists named above should be recognized as "Grand Masters," but putting these folks into a special category because I recognize and have appreciated their work in the past seems as unfair as excluding someone because I do not know them. So, in the end, I have to judge all the art I see, the way I see it and let the chips fall where they may.
An artist works hard to develop their voice, to come up with a style or presence within each work that speaks uniquely for them. This comes about naturally (but always after a lot of hard work) and is the result of working out the problems and challenges encountered in materializing the immaterial stuff that makes up art as well as dreams. Once an artist has found their voice another problem often arises because, that voice may be equally a gift and a curse. Artists can find themselves trapped by what had once set them free.
A judge, I have discovered, has their own problems and challenges to work out and this process can also result in a voice that is seen and heard in the choices they make. We share in the fact that making art, as well as, looking at art is a creative and personal process. I learned my lesson long ago to pay particular attention to the art I found I do not immediately like. There, more often than not, lies the path to something new and ultimately worthwhile. Something that can help me grow in a direction I could not have discovered otherwise.
Likewise, as an artist myself, I have always looked toward setting up challenges for myself that could not be solved in familiar ways. The result has been the development of numerous voices or styles. A collection of my work often looks as if it where the work of several artists. On the surface this may sound like a good solution, but as successful artists can tell you, having too many styles can stunt or even ruin a career. Therefore, I cannot advise going against your voice, once you have found one. Such a decision is a highly personal matter and depends on what you want from your art.
In the end, I think it is ultimately a good thing for digital art that MOCA has found and nurtured a stable of "Grand Masters" and continues to challenge and introduce new artists and present work of all kinds and styles. Everyone is a winner in this sense and we have "The Donnie" to thank for that.
Las Cruces, New Mexico