Editor’s Letter | The Artists’ Choice

The importance of praise from peers

By Kristin Hoerth

Who’ll Stop the Rain by Jennifer Diehl.

Who’ll Stop the Rain by Jennifer Diehl.

This story was featured in the April 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  April 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

In the world of fine art, choosing awards can be a tricky business. So much of the choice depends upon subjective decision-making. It’s not surprising to hear someone at a show say something like, “I would never have picked that painting for Best of Show.”

At most of the top invitational events in the West, a single juror or a committee of several jurors select the award-winning artworks. These jurors are often museum curators, art dealers, professors, or other experts from the art world. They’re knowledgeable, and their choices are always worth noting.

But at many shows, two awards are not chosen by the jurors: People’s choice awards are voted on by all of the collectors and art lovers who attend the event; artists’ choice awards are voted on by all of the artists participating in the show.

Artists’ choice awards are special because they represent the consensus of a group of experts who are intimately familiar with what they’re judging. They know how to recognize excellent work because they’re striving for it themselves every day. When they cast a collective vote for one of their peers, it means a lot.

In this month’s issue, we’re focusing on four painters who have won these treasured artists’ choice awards. Russell Case (see page 56) received his at the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale in Denver in 2015. He describes his reaction this way: “It’s very exciting to realize that you are actually communicating with other people in the way you want. It’s validating and gives substance and purpose and energy when it comes from your artist friends who speak the same language and know your struggles.”

V…. Vaughan (page 74) received her artists’ choice award at the Cowgirl Up! show and considers it one of her most cherished accomplishments. “It’s probably every artist’s highest honor when your peers, including people you’ve looked up to and people who have inspired you, vote for you as their choice. It’s really humbling,” she says.

Two more artists round out this section: C. Michael Dudash (page 62) has won the artists’ choice award for the past three years in a row at the Quest for the West show and sale. And Jennifer Diehl (page 68) captured her artists’ choice award at last fall’s Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational.

We hope you enjoy meeting these talented painters. And next time you’re at a show, keep an eye out for the winner of the artists’ choice award.

This story was featured in the April 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  April 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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