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Reflecting on My First Art League Entry

This year's landscape and sculpture exhibits.
This year’s landscape and sculpture exhibits.

Last week, our blogger, George, entered his first exhibit at The Art League. Read his original post here.

Well, my photos didn’t get in to this month’s group show.

However, I’ve found the experience anything but a failure. Just the process of entering my first show revealed a lot about the talent, community, and helpfulness to be found among Gallery members and volunteers. I’ll be back on future receiving days, but for now, here are my thoughts:

  • Looking through the other rejects while I was searching for my photos in the gallery closet, I realized I was in pretty good company. As you know if you’ve seen an exhibit here, we have plenty of talented artists, and this was a particularly popular show, with 560 pieces entered. Also, looking at the accepted pieces on the walls, it’s pretty hard to argue with the juror, at least about my photos.
  • Since I work here, I knew more than the typical first-timer about what to expect, but I still couldn’t have done it without a lot of help. From my photography mentor Tom Roberts (whose Shanghai can be found in the exhibit), to the volunteers who helped me with the receiving process, to the gallery staff who gave me advice on framing and pricing, this really feels like a community gallery.
  • My new goal is to get into three shows by next July, so I can join the Bin Gallery. I’m going to be spending more time learning about photography, experimenting with different techniques, and most importantly, taking pictures.

And for anybody else wondering about entering their first show, or discouraged by rejection, I’d like to share some of the feedback and wisdom I’ve gotten from others:

  • Blog commenter Rob Henry, who wrote: “Many of us have stories of paintings that don’t get selected into this show or that show and end up winning a prize somewhere down the road. It’s the choice of that judge on that day. And the competition at a gallery like The Art League is tough! One thing is true — if you don’t enter, you will never get selected.”
  • This month’s juror, whose advice for artists was the same as many past jurors’: “Keep making art.” (Read the juror’s statement here.)
  • Last month’s guest blogger Sarah Dale, who wrote: “Moments of rejection are times for us to push ourselves, not just as artists but also as individuals — refusing to accept rejection as discouragement, but instead accepting it as a challenge.”
  • Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote: “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Thanks to everyone who helped, commented, emailed, and otherwise supported my first attempt! Until next time,

— George

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