By Kristin Hoerth
As you can imagine, one of the best things about editing this magazine is the sheer volume of artwork I get to see on a regular basis. Meeting and getting to know so many great people—colleagues, artists, collectors, gallery owners, and more—is pretty terrific, too, but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen quite as often. It’s interesting to think about how many images cross my desk in any given day. Between emails, websites, other art magazines—even Facebook posts from artists—I’m sure it’s well over a hundred, and that’s a lot of paintings and sculpture. What a wonderful job to have!
It wasn’t always like this, though. Before Southwest Art’s offices plugged into the internet in the late 1990s, images were sent to us in the form of transparencies, slides, and the occasional 8-by-10 print. In many cases the quality was more reliable, but in terms of quantity, there’s certainly no comparison. Needless to say, there’s also no comparison between seeing a digital image and seeing the real thing. Standing in front of a painting, you can inspect the surface texture, examine the artist’s brush strokes, and appreciate the luminosity of the medium—none of which is possible when you’re limited to your computer’s screen.
Sometimes, though, the computer screen is the only option. That’s the case with both of our annual art competitions for emerging artists, which are now in their second year. Nearly everything about the competitions is electronic: Most artists enter by uploading digital images to the competition’s website (although slides are also accepted), and then those images are viewed, judged, and ranked using the website, as well.
This month we introduce the winners of the contest for artists under the age of 31. In the November issue, you’ll meet the winners in the over-31 category—which means that while you’re reading this, the editorial staff will be holding a series of meetings in which we huddle around a computer, slowly making our way through the nearly 3,000 digital entries! We’ll debate the merits of each finalist, weighing composition, color, form, and a whole host of other artistic criteria. Along the way, we’ll wish more than anything that we could see the paintings and other pieces in person—but we’ll enjoy the process nonetheless, as we set new records for the number of paintings we view on a daily basis. Judging is always a challenging and subjective process, but we think you’ll be impressed by the winners. We certainly are! -September 2010