|The Losing Entry|
I am the first to admit that I am competitive. I like to win. Hey, who doesn't--right? Did I let my kids win when I was teaching them to play "Fish", or Checkers, Hop-Scotch or Monopoly? Hell no! If you don't play to win, you ain't tryin'. And if you ain't tryin', you're dyin'. That's my motto. I can't help it, that's just the way I feel. (Too bad that now my kids never want to play "Fish", Checkers, Hop-Scotch or Monopoly...) Of course, trying to win and winning are not the same thing. The fact is: I lose all the time. I don't like it, but I've learned to accept it. I really do believe it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. Always give it your best shot, and see what happens. But, I also know that no one remembers who came in second. Quick-- who did the Boston Red Sox beat in 2004? Yeah... I thought so. That's why I like winning.
One of the ways to win in the art world (where everyone is playing with different game pieces), is by entering Juried Competitions. The prize could be monetary, or maybe a spot on a gallery wall. Maybe the prize is a chance to participate in a painting auction. It doesn't matter, I like to put my work out there by entering these things and see if I win. Looking around for a suitable event to enter, I recently came upon a great opportunity. The contest didn't have any valuable prize, just the opportunity to add one more winning event to my resume`. I think the piece I entered was one of my better efforts (shown above), and I was sure it would certainly garner top prize. At the risk of sounding smug, technically I am a professional artist. And hey, did you know that Norman Rockwell would enter local art competitions with paintings he made for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post? So with the concept of "nothing ventured, nothing gained", and "I'm better than my competition" I entered Ms Watson's Fourth Grade Art Show.
Ms Watson wasn't the Juror, though. That job belonged to Nicholas Duncan, a fine little artist, and a member of her class. Well, I entered and sat back waiting for the notification I was the big winner. I waited a month before I found out who won, and boy was I surprised! Not only did I NOT win, I didn't even get an "Honorable Mention"! I mean, C'Mon, Man! Ashley Theisle won with her depiction of her pet cats.
It's well done and all, and sure, Ashley is talented, but I felt she missed connecting the emotional narrative in her depiction. Second place went to Jacob Foontin. Jacob went all out with a haunting depiction of his family, reminiscent of Grant Wood's American Gothic.
But, dammit-- mine was at least as good as Joshua Fickett's Third Place drawing (not pictured). I mean, it looked like it was done by a second-grader! You know, it didn't get past me that Nicholas sits next to Ashley in Home Room. And when Ashley was the Judge last time, she picked Nicholas' drawing of a dinosaur as the winner. And wait a minute: Don't Joshua and Nick play together all the time at recess? Then it dawned on me. These kids only pick their friends to win. I've been gamed! Rest assured, I am not saying that Ashley would not have won with a different Judge, or that different tastes than mine would not have picked Joshua's piece, but it sure looked like hanging out with the Judge sure didn't hurt.
I get it. I learned my lesson. I'm not giving up on entering Art Competitions, because they are still a great way for my paintings to be seen. I'll just keep my expectations in check. However, I do plan on sticking to entering the ones run by adults. I'll leave the child's play for Ms Watson's Fourth Grade Art Class. Unless maybe I can find a way to hang out with Nicholas and Ashley sometime...