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Art Dilemma

"Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged" 

Those were my parting words when I dropped Kathy (Dello Stritto) off at the Bath House Cultural Center to judge the Outside The Lines exhibition prizes.

At the time, I thought I was being funny. It wasn't till later that I realized my quote was prophetic. And it wasn't that funny anymore.

Sarah Maxwell - Corpuscular
latex, ink, graphite on board
First Prize

Kathy and the two fellow judges and visual artists, independent curator Paul Rogers Harris and Dallas Museum of Art Head of Family Programs and Community Outreach Maria Teresa Garcia Pedroche had agreed to meet at the Bath House the hour before the opening, to select prize winners from the actual work in the show.

I wanted to photograph the process, but since I was in the show, I stayed away the full hour. I didn't get back till just after the 5 o'clock opening time. 

Jesus Galvan - Art Plane
acrylic on canvas
Honorable Mention

That's when I learned that Kathy had gone around the galley and marked her top five choices on one of the three yellow sheets Enrique had prepared for the judges. Then she waited and waited and waited for the other two.

Kathy, as well as Bath House Visual Arts Coordinator and Curator Enrique Fernández Cervantes and Director David Fisher, were still expecting the other two judges to show up and mark their choices, also.

Weeks earlier, the three jurors had viewed nearly 150 entry slides to determine which art would be in the show. Selections for the show had to be unanimous.

Unfortunately, neither of the other judges showed up or called saying they could not attend.

Kathy consulted with Bath House Visual Arts Coordinator / Curator Enrique Fernández Cervantes and explained her dilemma:

One of her choices for a prize was my photograph, Surface Reflections.

JR Compton - Surface Reflections, 2003
digital photograph, 1024 x 1604 pixels
Honorable Mention

I should explain here that Kathy and I were, at the time, more than good friends and coworkers on DallasArtsRevue.

I wasn't being naive.

I knew from the beginning that there might be issues, if I entered a show Kathy was helping judge. But I didn't think it was fair for me to drop out, when I finally had a piece that was that good and that far outside the lines, and Kathy thought she could be objective.

If I had it to do over again, I'd enter in a heartbeat.

The Bath House is my favorite gallery. I love the community that attends it. It's right on my favorite lake. And there just aren't many competitive exhibition opportunities this close to where I live in Elderly East Dallas. It's a natural — a no-brainer.

Nobody complained at the opening, but we were both concerned that resentment might grow — as artists figured out the situation and the relationship.  

There's always discontent about who gets into competitive shows and whose work is left out — and the many reasons for each judgement that are usually lost forever.

Read Kathy Dello Stritto's juror's comments below.

I suspect all artists have complained about this issue or wondered who an artist has to know — or sleep with — to get into a show.

Unfortunately, after talking with friends and fellow artists for several hours at the opening, eating a long-delayed dinner at our favorie Thai place, then napping awhile, Kathy woke up feeling awful.

Sheila Cunningham - Dual Motives
emulsion lift photography

See Sheila Cunningham's DARts Member page for more of her photography.

I explained that it wasn't her fault that the other judges never showed up to either agree or disagree with her selections. She had voted her honest opinions, and that's all any of us can ever expect from a juror.

Once again, I had the opportunity to repeat one of my all-time favorite self-help aphorisms (from Compton's Cosmic Coping Kit) —

"Show up.

Pay attention.

Tell the truth.

Let go of the outcome."

Steven A. Benezue - Allred
earthenware with commercial low fire glaze

I understand her discomfort.

Despite my railing against the Myth of Objectivity, people expect a certain amount of that impossible stuff — or at least the appearance of it.

It might be instructive to know that — several weeks later — I got word that the same piece that had been unanimously accepted by all three judges in Outside The Lines and been cited by Kathy for an Honorable Mention at the Bath House, was also accepted to the prestigious, annual Art in the Metroplex show at TCU — by a juror who probably wouldn't know me from Adam.

So what should jurors do?
Should we tell friends and people whose art we'd recognize on sight not to enter?

Or should we simply choose the best work the best way we can?

Once again, we will be fascinated to hear what DallasArtsRevue readers consider the answer — or answers — to this dilemma.

Please send your opinions in signed, unsigned or pseudonym signed E-mails to me, the Editor.

J R Compton

Sonia King - Odyssey
mixed media

See Sonia King's DARts Member page to see more of her mosaics


Outside The Lines
Juror's Comments

Corpuscular - Sarah Maxwell
I love her composition, the triptych format, the colors, and her use of mixed media to give visual interest.

Art Plane - Jesus Galvin
This painting is deceptively simple, but the transparent figures and airplane produce intriguing ideas and feelings.

Winfrey Point - Kendall Stallings
There is lyrical movement from the road through the tilting trees and a warm sunset mood.

Surface Reflections - JR Compton
This is a painterly, almost abstract, image. It shows an fine artistic interpretation of something that caught his eye, instead of just a skillful journalistic reproduction of what he sees.

Weir Farm: 144 Views - Ann Huey
I like her presentation of multiple images.

Allred - Stephen A. Benezue
Wonderfully weird

Dual Motives - Sheila Cunningham
Inventive, clever, and humorous. I look forward to her next series.

Isobel and Sirena - Sara M. Hernandez
These paintings are very different in content, but both are powerful uses of symbolism. They are well crafted and restrained, which makes the symbolism work.

(green - landscape)
So cool, serene, and perfect. It evoked a coldness that was disturbing to me. I like to have a visceral reaction to a work of art.



Hi JR,

Sorry to hear about the White Rock group show being nixed. Not sure I understand their reasoning behind the rule against group shows, but I guess it's their tour so they get to make the rules.

Also, I read your comments regarding Kathy Dello Stritto jurying your work into the Bath House show. I picture her sitting there wringing her hands and fretting over being the lone judge and being concerned about how people would react.

However, speaking as one who entered but was not accepted, please reassure her that I have no problem with friends judging or jurying artwork into shows. I think most people who agree to be jurors understand the need for objectivity and accept the responsibilities.

If the folks were thought to not have integrity they probably wouldn't have been asked to judge in the first place. Besides, after a few years of active participation in the local art community, you tend to have many friends and acquaintances anyway.

If you exclude yourself from jurying the people you know, who will be left to sit on the jury?

Norman James



Essentially, the White Rock Lake Artists Tour rule is, as far as I can guess (I've never seen the rule book), against group sales taking business away from the single artists on the tour, who have each paid $150 to be on the tour and official map.

The Creative Arts Center has similarly been prohibited from having a sale during the tour — although they sure need to raise some cash, if only to fix the air conditioners for this sweltering, second summer session. - JRC


All Contents Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 by JR Compton. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any analog or digital medium without specific written permission from JR Compton. This especially applies to you bozos who reprint stories and change the wording to suit your own distorted sense of justice.


EAT ART was named from the bumper sticker promoting the bond election to pay for the new, downtown Dallas Museum of Art when The City was attempting to move it from its long-established site in Fair Park. Emblazoned in white on a dark blue background, it said, "A GREAT ART MUSEUM FOR A GREAT CITY." That was their second, finally successful attempt to get a new building built in the supposed, near downtown Arts District.


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