From: "Robert Genn Twice Weekly Letter" <>

Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2005 7:10 PM
Subject: Ignorance

> Ignorance
> November 25, 2005
> Dear Rodney,
> Yesterday my friend Joe Blodgett brought a big yellow print
> into the studio. It was sort of modern, with a large,
> indecipherable signature across the lower end. "What do you
> think of this?" he asked. "Interesting," I said, which is what
> I say when I don't know what to say. "Why don't you run it
> through those 'evaluation points' that you use when you jury?"
> he suggested. I protested that my points were subject to
> modification--sometimes there's something major that upsets
> them. "Like, 'I like it,'" I said.
> My evaluation points are compositional integrity, sound
> craftsmanship, colour sensitivity, creative interest, design
> control, gestural momentum, artistic flair, expressive
> intensity, professional touch, surface quality, intellectual
> depth, visual distinction, technical challenge and artistic
> audacity.
If you were to assign a maximum value of 10 to each
> of these fourteen points, an almost impossible 140 would be the
> top mark. Loosely speaking, a total of around 50 is often
> enough for an "in." My system doesn't favour realism over
> non-objective work, but my jury duty has shown me that hard-won
> realism often wins out with these points.
> Cruising the print and looking at it in different lights over
> the afternoon, I was hard pressed to find points to hand out.
> It ended up with 30. While it had a sort of confident flair and
> a look of audacity, it was mostly what I call "basic." As a
> piece of print art--embellished or not--I saw it as
> unchallenging and average. Though bright in colour, it was dull
> in spirit. It suggested some sort of bare ambition--which has
> its appeal, but is often not enough in the big scheme of
> things. As a juried show-piece the print wouldn't make it. Mind
> you, some other juror--even using the same set of points--might
> have evaluated it differently. Joe phoned later and told me the
> print was the work of Dale Chihuly. "Chihuly's the
> internationally-known glass artist. That one is worth a couple
> of thousand--edition's almost sold out." I told him I hadn't
> been aware that Chihuly made prints. "That's how ignorant you
> are," said Joe.
> I've asked Andrew to illustrate Chihuly's print in the current
> clickback. See URL below. Once again I had been victimized by
> my ignorance. Or was it innocence? I'll stick to my guns.
> Ambition and audacity are quite frequently mistaken for talent
> and value.
> Best regards,
> Robert
> PS: "Knowing is false understanding. Not knowing is blind
> ignorance." (Nan Ch'uan) 
> Esoterica: Do we all crave a level playing field? It's been my
> observation that innocent-eyed jurors--often from another
> village--are best able to separate the better from the
> poorer--the grain from the chaff. All art carries a provenance
> that ranges from humble to exalted, from non-existent to
> stellar. What we're looking for here is the truth. In art, is
> the truth possible? "Real knowledge," said Confucius, "is to
> know the extent of one's ignorance."

> Current clickback: If you would like to see selected,
> illustrated responses to the last letter, "Art scam," as well
> as Chihuly's print, and others, please go to: