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81 Artists, the Governor, and "Cute"

I was pleased and honored to be included in this year's statewide art competition, The Art of Georgia, by the Georgia Council for the Arts. They were clear that it wasn't a juried show; the artwork was selected by the Council for placement in the Governor's office in the Capitol or the Governor's mansion, where it will hang for the next year. On the designated day, we all showed up with our paintings at the Capitol. More clever artists had someone else drop them off, but we parked first and walked past the homeless encampments outside the MARTA station carrying a 40" painting - but nevermind that...

All the artists and their guests waited outside Governor Kemp's office, then one by one we were allowed in to shake hands and have our photo taken. The Kemps were very friendly and professional, and with some difficulty I restrained myself from talking at all about politics.

What really struck me after it was all over was the attitude of the other artists. I had come with a few business cards and fully planned to chat and exchange information with my fellows. Instead, it felt like we were lined up nervously waiting for an audition. Most people around me avoided talking and only smiled politely and spoke the minimum if I tried to engage. Many kept their artwork hidden in bags or wrapped in paper. One guy was making a conspicuous show of posting live to his Instagram. A couple of older men in line near me were engaged in a little game of one-upmanship, though I tried to tune them out. Eventually they acknowledged me - one questioned me on why I didn't do more collage in my work (like he did), and the other told me my painting was "cute." It was almost like they were trying to psych me out, but for what? There was no performance, and the competition was already over.

I guess I'll chalk it up to nerves and fragile egos. It's really a shame though. I came home with all my business cards still in my pocket.

Here is a link to the complete catalog -

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