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  • Karen Millar Kendall

The Arts Festival Conundrum

Tis the season - arts festival applications are due and acceptance, or rejection, abounds. I have learned that the application process takes a thick skin and an ability (real or perceived) to accept rejection and keep going. I have a very difficult time trying to figure out what an arts festival jury is looking for. It has always been my assumption that something "different, unique, creative, interesting" and beautiful, would be the ideal work for the arts festival crowd. What I am learning is that what matters most is that the work "match".


This is something that I, admittedly, struggle with: Matching. Cohesiveness. Doing the same thing over and over, but slightly different each time. I tend to paint what makes me happy in the moment, trying something new each time - whether is be the subject matter, or style. Most of my pieces have similar veins running through them; the palette knife techniques, the bold color, the textures, and the representation, however, they are all really quite different overall (as evidenced in my National Parks collection). I'm told this is a bad thing if you want to be in a show, festival or gallery.


I get it. I really do. I look at the artists that are in shows, in galleries, and you can clearly see that their work is uniquely theirs, uniquely cohesive. It is a style - easily identifiable. My questions is: Do I have to pick a piece of my work, and then stick with that "thing"? Do I need to narrow my focus? Which thing do I do? Which technique? Which subject matter?


Dear reader; what are your thoughts?


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