Best of Show!

Joel, in the 1980s. Photo was taken by Nancy Hagler.

A while back, I wrote about entering art shows and how I felt about being accepted or not. I want to share a funny story shared by a fellow artist.

Joel Bujnowski (1950 -2010) was a talented fine arts printmaker and painter. He graduated from Northern Illinois University, taught college, and was a well-healed artist.

I met Joel in the ’80s through my good friend Nancy. Joel showed internationally, had numerous sales, and won many awards in competitions. He had the experience a fledgling artist such as I needed. Over the years, Joel mentored me. That included scathing critiques, yet he always put his finger on the issues in my work. Joel’s communication style was blunt! He suffered no fools. Although he could speak elegantly, he also could swear like a sailor! He also had a dry sense of humor.

Big City Boredom, by Joel Bujnowski, 1984

One evening we discussed the importance of being accepted into a show or not. I was still at a stage in my career where a rejection notice stung. Joel shared about a particular show he was accepted into. Back in the day, Jurors wrote Juror statements. In the Juror statement, the judge said all of the work submitted to the show was crap (I believe Joel used a more expressive word!). In his view, the judge clearly said that the work was terrible, and the show represented awful artwork. Joel finished his story by saying that he won the “Best of Show”!!! In his view, that meant in the jurors’ eyes; his work was the worst of the worst!

Joe’s work was too good ever to be considered “bad,” but his point was whether you are accepted into a show or not, don’t ever take it seriously.

It’s been 12 years since Joel passed, and I still miss his scathing, but highly informative critiques!

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