Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Serious Question

This isn't intended to be a rant, or a complaint.  It's more a "what's it all about?" question.

In the last few weeks, I've packed and shipped quilts for three shows.  This is an unusual number for me, and so I've been thinking about the process of entering shows, and why anyone  does it.  I always think it will be fun, until there comes the actual work of finding a box, folding the quilt to fit the box, finding the proper packing (plastic bag, pillowcase, NO pillowcase), assembling the mailing label, the show's ID label, the inside address, the return shipping check, the photograph, and anything else a particular show might want.  Then there's sealing the box, addressing the box, driving to the post office or UPS,  standing in line, and of course,  paying.  But then I forget about the hassle, and do it again the next time.

But after doing this chore three times in quick succession, I'm seriously considering saying "Never again." I have no hope of a prize, all I'll have is a page of not very helpful judges' comments. (One show is not judged, so there won't even be that.)  Surely a large majority of people who enter shows share my expectations.   If only those who win or hope to win entered, quilt shows would be small indeed.  Why do we enter?  Any thoughts about this?


Joyce said...

The only show I have entered is our local one. I just drop the quilt off and then pick it up when the show is over. There is no judging but that's fine with me. I don't think I'd bother to enter a judged show because they don't seem to appreciate my liberated style and I'd probably get severely criticized on my technical abilities.

Karen said...

Oh boy. This is one I go around and around with every so often. I have not entered any shows. I start to and then get a bit ticked off at having to pay to have them consider if my work is up to par for the show. Then should they decide it is acceptable there is still the charge for those who go to see the show...I understand the need for a fee to cover costs etc. But still.

floribunda... aka Julie said...

Ah yes! I've only entered once in a show far enough away that I had to mail the quilt, and it was a big hassle because they moved their office in the middle of everyone mailing their boxes and were then snotty and incompetent about the whole thing. So unless I come up with something that has a snowball's chance of winning a prize, I'll just enter quilts in local shows where I can drop off and pick up without any hassle! On the other hand, if everyone decided to do that, the shows would probably be much less interesting!

Debra said...

Last year I came to the same conclusion. I'm a lot happier.

Libby Fife said...

This will sound silly and like I am pretending to be a working artist, but I enter select shows to build a "resume" of sorts. I look for shows that are juried and local so I can either drop off or not ship far. I just want to be able to indicate that I show my work a couple of times a year.

With that said, the price for entering a show upsets me since this is my hobby. Additionally, I will no longer enter my local guild show. The work entered by others was beautiful, but my Angel and Tree went unappreciated. That was a good piece but this was the wrong venue. I also get irritated with the 25-30% of the sale which goes to the group presenting the show-unless the money goes to charity or something.

I have 3 pages of shows that are happening this year and have rejected many of them because of the price to enter, distance, and the requirement of the size of the piece. I will just keep looking for something that fits.

My opinion is that most of us are searching for a reason as to why we spend our time making art; whether we consciously think this or not, justification is a critical factor. I think entering shows is one way to address this need to justify. When is the last time you did something just for the pure pleasure of it? The joy?

Good thought provoking post.

The Calico Cat said...

That is why I am not even in a local quilt guild & do not enter my own guild's show... I so do not have the mental fortitude for all of that extra cr@p!

*karendianne. said...

Seriously, I think it's a trap we can all get sucked into. I did at a certain point in my life (and I think you know about that era before quilting) but not anymore. It's the stress that I don't like. There's no fun in it. What's the point? There is no point. The point is the creating and the learning and the sharing and the giving.

Which brings me to the sharing and the giving. Why? I gave a little quilt to my long time friend yesterday. She folded it up and put in on the console of her truck and let the dogs step all over it. I liked to have died right there!!! This isn't the first quilty item I've given her but this makes me think about "Why?" Maybe no more quilty things for her? Not the point.

No one is ever going to care for my makings as much as I do I think. No one will ever award me what I think any given piece deserves.

My cousin Guy once told me you create and then you have to completely let it go... Period. I think if we could completely let it go we might be able to let go of the entries and shows and the doggie paws, too.

Barbara Strobel Lardon said...

I have entered shows. I agree it is a a lot of work and I hate packing up the quilt, partly because of the work involved but also because I would hate to lose it even if it is insured.

I will probably continue to enter shows just to show my work to the general public and who knows who might like something and call for a commission or to buy the quilt shown. It is pretty cheap advertising if you think of it that way.

I also do it because it supports the show, which I like to go to. If no one entered there would be no show. I go to shows to look for new machine quilting designs, new ideas, new artists, vendors etc. take a class, listen to lectures, and meet new quilters.

I never enter to win something. If I do, that is great, but it is not my main objective.

Suzanne Kistler said...

A serious question, and a very good one. I, too, have recently packed up three quilts for three shows. Why do we do this? Why do I do this?

I love quilt shows. I love to see what other quilters are making. I like to visit the old and experience the new. I like to see innovation and imagination. I like to see quilts that make me think, "I can do that!" or "I wonder if I could do that?"

Without those of us willing to go through the hassles, the entry forms, the shipping, the calendar coordination, etc., there would be no quilt show. It's as simple as that.

And that is the point, right? If no one submits their work, there can be no show.

I find that it is very important to separate the ideas of entering and winning. The "win" for me, is getting accepted into a show. If a judge or judges think my quilt is worthy of note, I am ecstatic. But if not? It's okay. My quilt hung in the show. And maybe, just maybe, it encouraged someone else to think "I could do that," or "I'd like to try that."

For me it's 95% about the sharing of work, but I would be lying if I didn't say that the other 5% covets a ribbon.

Thanks for the chance to chime in.