Tips from the symposium

"Rhapsody" by George Berezovsky

"Rhapsody" by George Berezovsky

Artists, what really goes on in the juror’s mind when selecting pieces for a show? How do they choose a show from among five or six hundred entries? Do they simply look for the best works, or try to craft a cohesive show? How can you give your piece the best chance of being chosen? At the Art Maui 2012 symposium on January 14, our panel of experienced jurors, Thomas Klobe, Allison Wong, Lauren Harris, and Dick Nelson offered some great insight into what they look for when jurying a show.

We’ve compiled highlights from several Art Maui board members below. Show Chair Chris Scharein lists key dos and don’ts for artists to know as they prepare to enter a show. Karen Bennett found some ideas that may surprise you. Gabe Mott’s tweet stream captured the event as it unfolded. Symposium moderator Tim Garcia provides a handy list of juried shows for local artists to enter, and his own take on the panel’s advice.

If you attended, let us know: what were some highlights for you?

Dos and don’ts


  • Do spend the money on quality frames and matting, but keep it simple.
  • Art work that might require a base or stand–keep it simple.  Your art work should be the center of attention.
  • Submit your best work and if you plan to submit two works, they should each be different.
  • Enter your work, don’t penalize yourself by not entering.  Every juror is different.
  • An artist should be an artist everyday and not just to enter a show.
  • Raise the bar for yourself and your art.  Create a WOW work of art.


  • Don’t choose frames that overpower the art
  • Don’t use multicolor mattes
  • Don’t be an interior decorator
  • Don’t use expensive frames
  • Don’t use large signatures
  • Don’t submit digital works that lack quality.
  • Don’t enter pieces that are alike.

Summarized by Chris Scharein

Some other points

Several mentioned their delight in discovering artists whose work they hadn’t seen before. This should encourage people who haven’t entered or been selected in the past to go ahead and enter.

There was a range of perspectives on how many pieces to select for a show. Two panelists said they’d tend toward more, wanting to be encouraging of the art community, and wanting to include a “quirky” piece if they liked it. One said “less is more,” and one would set a high standard based on the best pieces chosen (the ones that instantly stood out) and comparing debatable ones to that level of quality. They all take their responsibility as juror seriously, wanting to really give each piece their attention.

Some people might be surprised to learn that this year’s juror, Tom Klobe, deliberately tries not to identify the artist. This runs counter to a popular notion that only works by an “in group” or “Art Maui clique” will be selected.

Tom uses three criteria when judging: 1. Does it capture his interest visually? 2. What is the meaning or concept behind it; and does it make him think, or does it hit him over the head? 3. Does it have good technique? He also mentioned appreciating finding more depth in something he’d passed over initially.

To grow as an artist, stay abreast of what is happening in the art world, outside of Maui and Hawaii. Use the internet, read art magazines, visit museums and galleries when you travel, and enter art shows in other states.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re not chosen; keep working and growing and enter other shows. The juror may not be familiar with your medium or technique, or understand what you were trying to do. There is some subjectivity in the third of these three critique questions: 1. What was the artist trying to do? 2. Did s/he do it? 3. Was it worthwhile?

Don’t slant your entry toward what you imagine the juror might want to see; it doesn’t work. They want to see your best work.

Summarized by Karen Bennett

Tweet stream from Gabe Mott

  • I’ll be live twittering the art Maui symposium at the MACC. It starts at 2pm. All are welcome.
  • Here we go, the Art Maui Symposium 2012 is beginning. Tim Garcia is moderating. This is the 34th Art Maui.
  • The panel includes two people who were instrumental in the first Art Maui Tom Klobe and Dick Nelson.
  • Art Maui is gifting 3 $2500 scholarships for high school students this year. Jefferson the president and Chris Schaeren are present.
  • The panelists are Allison Wong, Thomas Klobe, Lauren Harris and Dick Nelson.
  • The first question to the panel: What is your approach when you are starting to jury a show?
  • Tom Klobe: What is the idea behind this? Is it too obvious? I don’t want to understand it entirely immediately.
  • Tom Klobe: I want to gradually come to an understanding of a piece, I want to grow with it.
  • You can still join the Art Maui symposium at the MACC.
  • Dick: In Honolulu jurying a watercolor show- I rejected a piece that was wonderfully crafted, incredible technique w/out much originality.
  • The artist called me immediately after irate. Ten years later he found me and thanked me for challenging me.
  • Tom is going to select the pieces that he thinks are best, not concerning himself as much with making them cohesive as a group.
  • Tom: When I jury a show by myself I take longer than when w/ 2 other jurors. I have a responsibility to each artist to try to understand.
  • I’m tweeting the Art Maui symposium, we’re in the Higashi room, about 40 in attendance. The Panel are experienced jurors.
  • Dick: On making your art piece large or small, Albers once said about a very large painting “If you have nothing to say, don’t shout”
  • Alison suggesting a dialogue with the juror after the show would be appropriate where an artist would have a chance to share intent
  • The juror this year, asked whether it would help to google him to know what type of art he likes “no– stay home and make good art.”
  • Tom Klobe: If you are putting in 3 pieces, make sure they each have something different to say.
  • What place do juried art shows take within the places to exhibit to art in Hawaii?
  • Alison: Maui has more juried shows than Oahu.
  • Tom: I was once rejected 3 times by the same juror for different work. I decided that he had 3 chances to show my work and he struck out.
  • Basic Donts: Frames that kill the work, Over matting, Simple is best, Don’t be an interior decorator
  • Don’t overdo frames: “the frame serves as the transition to the rest of the environment” -Tom
  • Dick when asked why he hadn’t entered Art Maui in a while, he responded that he hadn’t done work yet that had exceeded his previous
  • Dick charges the Art Maui community to go outside comfort zones. Don’t repackage already done concepts. Go for a wow.
  • Tom asks when he sees a show without a “wow” piece if it was the juror or the artist. He wonders if there was a “wow” piece in the rejects
  • The juror does not know the artist nor title when jurying the shows.
  • Dick: All openings are social events. It’s not about the show, the art. Tom: At openings I don’t engage with the artwork.
  • “Show us something from your true heart and not your pocketbook.” -Dick Nelson
  • Getting to the end of the Art Maui Symposium. Dick is asked as one of the founders if Art Maui reflects the original intention.
  • Dick: “Art Maui ought to be pushing us to new horizons. Try some new things, not just for trying but an honest effort to grow.”
  • Discussion of the “place” of art being done in Hawaii– “provincial” is a comment made occasionally by folks outside of Hawaii about Hawaii
  • Wrapping up. A good two hours on what the art selection process is about. The jurors are asked what they appreciate about the jury process.
  • Lauren Harris: I get to be an instrument on support of the creative process.
  • Grateful to have a show that can represent all of Maui and is all volunteer driven. – Tom Klobe
  • Make that wow piece. Maybe you won’t get in. Keep working, don’t give up. -Tom Klobe

Gabe’s favorite comments are shown in bold above. He also added this comment:
The main thing I think to preface all of this is what Tom and Allison said, it’s just one person’s (or 3 as the case may be) opinion – in which case all the “advice” should be couched as such. For example, I read the part about frames and I think – are you kidding me, yes certainly don’t overframe, but I know from experience that a quality frame can make a huge difference in whether or not a piece gets in. The jurors aren’t always the best judge of themselves – they are just like the rest of us, unaware of what they don’t know they don’t know.

Follow Gabe Mott on Twitter: @gabemott

Juried art shows in Hawaii

Art Maui
An annual exhibition open to residents of Maui County, in all media

Hui No Eau Visual Arts Center
Juried Members Exhibition, Solo Exhibition, Annual Theme Exhibition

Schaefer Portrait Challenge
Triennial statewide exhibition. Next one is 2015 at Maui Arts and Cultural Center

Hawaii Craftsmen Members Exhibition
Annual statewide exhibit for members of Hawaii Craftsmen. Academy Arts Center at Linikona

Artists of Hawaii
Biennial statewide exhibition. Longest running juried show in the state

Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce Annual Exhibition
Open to all residents of Hawaii. All media; size restrictions

Other resources

Dos and Don’ts

  • Read all entry forms completely. Simple? Yes! Follow directions. 36 x 36 means no larger than 36. No work over 60lbs., etc. Follow the form instructions and stay true to it.
  • It’s not about the biggest work, it’s about the best!
  • Reading about the juror is fine, but do not ! do not ! change your style to try to please the juror. Just stay true to your art and make GREAT ART.
  • When submitting digitally, read the requirements for photos, and if you cannot shoot it yourself get a professional. Flat backgrounds. No junk, plants, dogs, cats, etc.
  • For 3D work, if a pedestal is needed it should be simple, stable, and not distracting from the work. If the work stands alone it most likely will not benefit from a stand or pedestal.
  • Keep your signature clean and simple. My eye should not be drawn there first.
    This is the number one tip from all the jurors we spoke to. Stay away from big, gnarly, over-decorative frames, triple matting, distracting colors, frames that are a separate work of art. Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it tight. Look at other artists who get in every year; most have no frames.
  • For photography: tight matting, simple frame and CLEAN GLASS PLEASE.
  • All in all, they stressed going out on limb – stand on the end and jump! Take a chance with your work when entering juried shows. If it is not your best work, why enter? So go to your studio and make art!

Compiled by Tim Garcia

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