It's the end of August, which means it's time for the 2011 Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Competition. It's the 100th show, and I had heard that the photography judge had some new ideas for the photo exhibit this year (that's his tweet above.) I thought it somewhat arbitrary to exclude whole genres of photography (sorry Ansel, not this year), but what the heck- I'd love to see something new.
Not nearly as big a crowd this year, but people watching is always fun:
Waiting to get in can be an art form in its own right:
And yes, once I got inside I did see "Dudes on hogs"and "Chix with guns":
I thought it pretty tacky for the photography judge, Sean Smuda, to showcase his own work (WTF?) in the prime location in the gallery (double WTF?) It's the center piece above- he did a little painting on top of his photo-collage to show us that it was "real" art, I suppose. Overall, I was underwhelmed with the photos. Lots of poorly printed art-school projects, a few nice images here and there to be sure, but kind of depressing overall. Evidently no humor was allowed this year, unless photos of slaughtered chicken heads is your idea of a joke. And the strangest new development of all- NO RIBBONS! (Triple WTF?!) Perhaps The Fine Arts Exhibition is, at 100, too "important" for that plebian rite? THE REASON PEOPLE ENTER STATE FAIR COMPETITIONS IS TO WIN BLUE RIBBONS. It isn't that hard of a concept, although the new powers-that-be that be seem to be unaware of it in their joyless presentation.
The drawings were good, as they usually are, and the painting was definitely better than last year, although there was still plenty of beginner's stuff. Watercolors and sculpture are solid every year, there's enough craft involved in producing them that posers are quickly weeded out. Textiles got short shrift (only 3 "arty" pieces) but unfortunately that is also the norm. There was a selection of work from Minnesota artists of previous years on display and their work was much better (including a black and white photographic landscape!) with this whimsical sculpture (cross your eyes for 3d effect) almost making up for the funeral atmosphere of the rest of the show:
Voyage, Judy Onofrio
Oh well, just like in baseball- "Wait till next year!"- when there will be different judges and hopefully they'll bring the ribbons back.
Here's a mantra for the 2012 Fine Arts Committee to recite when they're planning things:
THE STATE FAIR IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!
(repeat as needed.)