The wise juror
Robert Genn

May 15, 2009

Dear Rodney,

Yesterday, among the email that came in for the launch of The Painter's Post, 
there was a note from Pam Ryan of Wilmette, Illinois. She attached a letter 
she received from an anonymous juror after one of her works was rejected from 
an exhibition. It was a thoughtful, tasteful, perhaps boilerplate letter that 
said in part:

"Whether or not your work was included in this show should not discourage you 
from continuing your artistic pursuits." The juror told how, in a similar 
situation, she had had her photographs rejected by four different jurors for 
four different reasons.

The juror went on to say: "It's vital for any artist to nurture and protect 
that which makes their vision unique. One needs to go inward instead of 
outward and learn to trust your own inner guide."

"If you have one rule to follow," she wrote, "I suggest cultivating a dialogue 
with your inner voice, listening to the clues your own images offer."

This is not unwarranted praise or gratuitous esteem building. It's an 
expression of one of the basic truths of art. It brings to mind the very 
real question of how much one really needs from anyone else. It seems to me 
that the act of art is at its best when the interaction simply takes place 
between the artist and the work itself--outside the world of criticism and 
inside the world of inner knowledge.

I compare each creative effort to the solo assent of a steep mountain where 
the path is jagged and crossed with crevasses and fissures. Only a strong 
shot of personal desire gets you to the top. No tour guide or outrageous 
misfortune can spoil the hike--nor can gratuitous praise or commercial 
success. Art just is. Each work of art is its own mountain, its own beauty 
and reward.

"Listening to the clues your own images offer," is the key to the juror's 
wisdom. While knowledge of tools and the love of motif may be in your 
backpack, and all mountains may be measured by their previous heroes, art 
must exist for you in a place beyond the judgment of others.

Best regards,


PS: "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who 
looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." (Carl Jung)

Esoterica: This commitment comes in different supply to each of us. The 
imaginative may need to focus, while the naturally focused may need to 
develop and build the soft muscles of imagination. Here's an exercise: Slow 
your breathing, review in your mind's eye your vision, glance at the clock 
and fixate on the work at hand for an hour. Be deliberate, steady and patient. 
Be audacious, clever and generous. Let your strokes be sensitive and brave, 
as if you were participating in a mutual, loving act. Look, think, stroke. 
Leave your strokes alone. The circle will not be broken.