The annual Palm Springs Museum Artist Council exhibition has become an important part of the art calendar in Palm Springs. The exhibition reflects the variety and depth of artistic talent in the Coachella Valley and 50% of the proceeds of all sales are going to the educational program of the museum.
Every year one or several curators are chosen by the museum to take on the difficult task of selecting less than 50 works of art out of more than 500 submissions.
This year the Artist Council chose our own Christian Hohmann to be the sole juror and curator of this prestigious exhibition.
The exhibition is currently open and on display through 12/06 with an Awards Ceremony on November 7th at 5:30pm.
As you can see by his text below, he didn’t take this assignment lightly. You can read about his experience here, which was also published in the accompanying catalog:
Curators, art critics, and jurors are faced with the challenge of judging art, deciding that one work of art is better than another or that one artist is better than another. Joseph Beuys, probably one of the most notable and revolutionary German artists of the 20th century once said “everybody is an artist and everything is art”. At the time he was trying to question the traditional forms of art critique and the stoic art historic approach that valued skill over idea. With this statement, he summed up contemporary art which by its very nature cannot be objectively quantified and omits itself from most standards in general.
If that is the case, then why do we still attempt to judge and jury art, why do we not just let a lottery decide what is shown and what isn’t? It seems just as fair as having someone judge by his or her opinion. Who am I to say that one work is more deserving, or one artist more important than another? Having dedicated my life to art since I was 19 years old I have long realized the limitations of judging art. And yet, I am a big advocate that we need to do more of it and today more than ever.
I will tell you why.
Creating art can be fun. For many, it is a hobby. There are literally thousands of men and women who enjoy taking art classes and they can paint what looks like a nice painting to the untrained eye. On the surface, they are doing what artists are doing and occasionally they get lucky and produce something that is not half bad. There is of course nothing wrong with that and I even encourage people to be creative, but there is a lot of confusion when it comes to the use of the word “artist”. Unfortunately, there is no standard one has to abide by or training one has to absolve to use this title.
True artists are the few men and women who passionately dedicate their lives to making art, who risk much if not everything, to whom making art is not a choice, but a necessity. They push their limits every day, they are hard workers and visionaries and they have earned that title. They choose the difficult path and they get little appreciation for what they do but make no mistake: the world would be a better place if more people would follow their passion like they do. The Palm Springs Museum Artist Council is full of these true artists and I salute them! And I salute the Palm Springs Museum for giving them a forum and a voice.
When I was asked to curate this year’s annual exhibition of the Palm Springs Museum Artist Council I quickly said yes. I was honored and I assumed that this would be easy. Judging art by photographs is what I do almost every day. The initial contact with every artist always begins with images of a few works of art – and over the course of every year, I look at thousands of them. At this point in my life after more than 20 years in the art business, I do this almost on instinct, without much contemplation. So I thought “How hard can it be?” and enthusiastically and maybe a little bit too confident I accepted the assignment.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. After my first sweep through the 500+ submissions, I quickly realized that this wouldn’t be as easy as I thought. I was supposed to narrow it down to less than fifty works that would be displayed in the final exhibition and at the very first glance, I realized that I would be doing wrong by many artists simply by not being able to select all the works I wanted to.
My father who founded our gallery in 1976 is more a collector at heart than an art dealer. From him, I learned about the passion that drives artists to create. I learned about quality, consistency, longevity, and originality. Going through the submissions I found much of that passion and talent and while some of these artists might not conform to the tough standards of the commercial art market, curating this show reminded me of what art is all about: expression of untamed emotion, creativity, and non-conformism. So I stopped what I was doing and instead of filtering works by my usual standards I tried to look with fresh eyes, trying to put together an exciting exhibition that would be coherent, consistent, and hopefully a little surprising. Not just an accumulation of individual works that might appeal to the collectors I know.
And that was hard. Because once I looked past the obvious a whole new world opened up. My second attempt was distinctly different from the first and I found myself full of questions that a photograph and a small description from the artist couldn’t answer. Little by little, however, choices started to fall into place, artworks started to communicate with each other and I was able to assemble what is now the final selection of exhibited works.
Having it all finished and looking back at the works of art I couldn’t select, I realize that there were many that would have deserved to be shown. This is the most difficult part of putting together an exhibition like this. There are limitations and unfortunately, not everything that is worthy can be displayed. I congratulate all the artists that were selected, but I really want to address the artists that did not make the cut this time. I would like for you to know that at times it was difficult to choose and I wish I could have selected twice as many works of art to be included in this exhibition. Please, continue to follow your passion.
Christian Hohmann, Palm Desert, September 2015