Second Place at the State Fair!
Night at the Intersection, 36 x 48” oil on canvas
The Minnesota State Fair Juried Fine Arts Exhibition is an event artists here look forward to…or don’t. With categories for all media, it gets a lot of entries. In 2018, a total of 2,620 pieces were submitted and 344 works were accepted. There are new jurists every year, ranging from academics to working professional artists, and there’s no predicting what will get selected for the show and what will win prizes. For all we know, a piece that’s rejected one year could just as likely win an award the next. Whatever the outcome, thousands of fair goers wander through the exhibition, so it’s a nice way to get your work in front of eyeballs.
As an oil painter working in a traditional manner, and primarily doing landscapes, I always fear that more modernist jurists will give my genre short shrift, but I have to admit, that hasn’t proven to be the case. Over the 17 years I’ve been submitting, the jurists all seem do their darndest to assemble a show that reflects the wide range of submissions. As the longtime Minneapolis StarTribune arts critic, Mary Abbe, once observed, “Minnesotans, they do love their landscapes.” Her tone may have been a bit sardonic, but yeah, lucky for me, they do.
Overall, the show is A to Z in quality and entertainment value, but it always stirs up conversation. We artists all want to get in and feel snubbed when we don’t. I recall bumping into internationally renowned Minnesota photographer Alec Soth at a party one year around Fair time. He hadn’t gotten in and was a bit irked. “It’s only the fair,” I thought. The next year I didn’t get in. I was a grouch for two days.
I feel fortunate to have had good luck with this event. This year, I won a lovely red 2nd Place ribbon, (my second!) to hang on my easel and splash paint onto. I’ve also won a 4th Place, one Honorable Mention, and a special Outdoor Painters of Minnesota award. The latter was especially nice because it came from a vote of my peers.