Buy-sell award winners at juried art shows

I was just curios about how people feel about so called artists at
juried art shows who sell buy-sell jewelry and win awards for their
work? As I’m sure anyone who uses juried art shows as an outlet for
their work knows the occasional person who does buy-sell will get in
no matter how well juried the show is. It’s as sure as the sun coming
up. But what about when these people win awards for exellence in
their work?

On two seperate occasions I have seen this (that I am aware of). The
first time by a woman who is on the road all summer exhibiting and
spends all winter in Thailand on the beach at Phuket" making her
jewelry." She won a best of show and a thousand dollars for her hard
work. Last year it happened again an award of excellence and cash
prize went to a so called jeweler who go his stuff right out of the
Blake Bros. catalog. The jewelers at the show had an informal pow-wow
to discuss this and it was felt that it is a big deal in this small
town. It is sponsored by the city and is put on more to promote the
arts than as an art show per say. We felt it would be an embarrasment
to them as they are so proud of their show and go out of their way in
their treatment of attending artists. But what about the jewelers
who actually are what they claim? Any thoughts?

I don’t understand some jewelers calling themeselves a artist when
all there making is a strand of beads. What happened to the torch
and metal. I am living in an artist type town and i have been at a
show at a gallery and so called artist had nothing but beads. Get
real’ setting stones and a torch is real.


This is something that I feel VERY strongly about. I hand-make 95%
of what is in my booth… basically, everything except some of the
manufactured chains that my pendants hang on. And even some of my
chains are hand-made, if it makes sense for the price point of a
particular piece. I don’t farm out the design, casting, fabrication,
finishing, etc. As a result, my pieces are unique creations and I can
speak knowledgeably about all aspects of their design and

I know the old adage that “life isn’t fair.” I realize that at
non-juried shows I’ll be up against buy/sell and all kinds of other
shady stuff, BUT, I expect a level playing field when I’m at a juried
show, particularly one where prizes are being offered and a lot of
publicity is involved. The jury is responsible for having a level of
knowledge that should be able to detect buy/sell merchandise; if they
have any doubts, they should have additional specialist resources
they can call in for consultation.

If they are not staffing the jury adequately for that purpose, then
the organizers need to be informed so that they can look for
different jury qualifications to avoid future embarrassments. If they
are so proud of their show, they have a vested interest in supporting
an appropriate level of integrity in the participating artists. That
doesn’t mean that they need to go back and proclaim their
embarrassment for this year’s faux pas, but they DO need to know that
it happened so that they can take steps to prevent it in the future.

In a mixed-media show, it’s difficult for juries to sometimes have
both broad and deep experience to detect buy/sell. In some media,
that’s easier to detect than others, I’d suspect, although there’s
always the “did the presenting artist do all the work themselves or
do they hire others to do it” question.

To my mind, we (crafts people as a whole) need to be more proactive
in self-policing, not in a mean-spirited way but in a way that
supports and builds the ethics of the group as a whole. If the
misrepresenting exhibitor goes so far as to lie about his/her
hand-work, then what else are they willing to lie about? Whether a
stone is natural or synthetic? Whether the gold is plated or solid?
It becomes an issue of trust.

My recommendation would be to inform the organizers in a letter,
including if possible a copy of the catalog in which you’ve seen the
work in question. Be clear to them that you are informing them
PRIVATELY as a concerned participant who would not want to see their
future endeavors spoiled by unscrupulous exhibitors. Consider even
offering to participate in a future jury pool or make recommendations
for resources they could tap to get the experience to detect such
fraud. They should want to protect their own reputations and should
take appropriate steps.

Best wishes,

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs

This subject brings up bad tastes in the mouth. 2 years ago at our
local county fair there was a juried show for hand made work.
Someone saw fit to enter a beautiful piece of work created by a
Navajo indian that they had purchased. The entered piece won first
prize of $1500. and the money went to the person who entered it. Not
the person who created it.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA

I too am a craftsperson who makes everything by hand. Once in a
while, and only if requested by a customer, I will use commercial
lever back earring findings. Other than that everything is hand made.

I have several friends who work as I do, making everything from
scratch. From time to time, we have been in shows which were
juried,and which advertised themselves as featuring the work of
artists who had hand crafted their things. To our disgust, we often
find ourselves alongside the work of people who had strands of glass
beads, lots of swarovski, metal beads from bali, and other fake
stuff,sometimes joined with wire, and commerical findings. To make
matters worse, the public was oohing and awhing over this stuff.

At one show the three of us complained to two of the jurors, who
were making the rounds of the show, but they just shrugged it off.
“Well,” said one juror, " it takes great creativity and artisty,to
put things like that together." Now how does one respond to such an


I don't understand some jewelers calling themeselves a artist when
all there making is a strand of beads. What happened to the torch
and metal. I am living in an artist type town and i have been at a
show at a gallery and so called artist had nothing but beads. Get
real' setting stones and a torch is real." 

And my response is "Ouch! I am a metal worker (aka silversmith) and I
love using my torch, but I was a painter before I became a
silversmith and so I love color, hence I also work a lot with beads.
I found that beads evoke an entirely different set of techniques
than does metal - they speak to me differently with their colors and
shapes - and there is a heap more to creating in beads than just
“stringing”. I would invite you to try creating something appealing
and artistic using “just beads” before you decide that the person
using beads to express their talents shouldn’t call themselves
artist. Who said being an “artist” was exclusive to working in metal?
Not me! Not to mention the fact that simply setting stones and
torching metal does not always result in “art” - does anyone care to
get into the argument about what constitutes “art”? Didn’t think so.
I suggest you rethink your position on this. I love beadwork, I love
silverwork, I love painting (and I mean painting anything from
canvases to illustrating to painting furniture, anything that lends
itself to color and design.) I consider myself an artist as do my
friends but amazingly they considered me to be an artist before I
ever learned to work in metal. Strange? I think not.