Thursday, August 14, 2014


In my view, art is not and should not be a competitive venture. Sports are competitions, contests, but art, art is not a competition. Yet art is continually made into a competition with ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ which is utter nonsense. A recent Google search for ‘calls for entry’ and ‘art competitions’ yielded over one-hundred returns for art competitions. Everyday artists can pay to enter their works in art competitions where there will be more losers than winners. Isn’t it great to pay some alleged expert to reject your work from a contest? And, statistically-speaking, you will most likely lose because there are always more entrants than wall space for ‘winners.’

We brand artists ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ arbitrarily and without explanation or reason. Artists get to feel badly because their works were summarily rejected from a ‘contest.’ The result is a bruised ego causing some to question the very validity of their artwork –artwork which more than likely is pretty darn good and gave them great joy to create. Some even quit, believing the experts’ valuation of their submission as meritless.

Conversely, the ‘winners’ feel superior, validated and better than others because their artworks ‘won’ the contest, thereby allowing them to spend more money shipping the artwork to the gallery for exhibition (and back again to the studio because artworks rarely sell in these group show competitions). Congratulations! You get to feel like a Great Artist and provide the gallery ‘product’ for free. Woo-hoo!

But it’s all bullshit. One shouldn’t feel good for ‘winning’ nor feel bad for ‘losing’ because it’s all meaningless. Art is not a competition and just because some person arbitrarily chose one artwork over another really doesn’t mean anything about the true merit of your art.

Hey gallery-dude! Do you like my art? If so, then exhibit it and if it sells give me a show and sell even more of it. Don’t demean me by making me enter some stupid contest so I can ‘win’ (by paying) a couple of square feet on your wall for a few weeks.

But this rant won’t change anything because humans, by nature, love competition. Why is that? Because we’re all evolved from predators! We’re genetically predisposed to fight despite the necessity for fighting no longer applies in our ‘more-evolved’ state. I put ‘more evolved’ in quotation marks because our species isn’t really all that evolved which is proven by our making contests, conflict and competitions out of things that simply don’t merit competition, like the creation of art.

Don’t like the evolution argument, would rather credit god and ‘intelligent design’ for our species outcome? Consider this: what kind of an ‘intelligent designer’ would create a biosphere where one species’ survival depended upon the hunting down and killing of another? Brilliant! And here we are in the 21st century ‘competing’ for non-competitive things.

I’m sick of it all. I’m weary of the fight. Maybe I’m just old, tired and have lost my edge? But maybe we could find a better way –assuming we could stop competing long enough to figure it out.