A Statement on the Juried Exhibition

We Choose Love


“Meditating on Love” by Onna Jeanna Voellmer

Over the last several years, Artlink has made tremendous strides in connecting artists to both business and the general public, and the 18th Artlink Juried Exhibition event on September 15 was no exception.

For the first time in the history of the exhibition, the prizes were significant and the number of submissions for the exhibition quadrupled. Over 250 artists submitted work to the call; nearly 400 people attended the one-night event at the Heard Museum’s Steele Auditorium; and buyers spent over $16,000 on local work. See the photos from the event here

While the feedback from artists has been extremely positive, a recently published review was unfortunately informed by one particular point of view, focusing on the work of one photographer.

While his photograph was beautiful and succeeded at making a statement, it was not chosen by the jury panel as one of the selections worthy of a prize. Everyone has an opinion. It just so happens that the independent jury’s opinion is the one that counts in this particular instance.

If the review simply stated a preference or disagreement with the jury there wouldn’t be an issue. But the review went further. It provided a platform for a disgruntled participant, including a quote of a Facebook tirade made by the photographer after not being awarded a prize, and somehow conflated his disappointment with a vague notion of perceived actions that Artlink should have taken.

Unfortunately, the net result was a review that was filled with inaccuracies as it cast aspersions on the exhibition process based on one participant’s discontent. We’d like to correct the article’s factual errors and set the record straight.

The sponsor, Baron Properties, was not the only purchaser of artwork that night. In addition to the $5,000 purchase “Baron Prize,” Baron bought three additional pieces. Guests of the event purchased two others.

The jury selected ALL of the top selections, not the sponsor. Baron only chose the top prize-winner from those jury selections. Neither Baron nor Artlink representatives instructed or guided the jurors or the participating artists in a direction.

We may not all like the same work; we may find some pieces “predictable” and others “provocative” and that is as it should be. Critics will debate the merits of different pieces, but to assume that the jurors were “playing it safe” and made choices that were somehow dictated by Baron is a discredit to the honorable jurors and artists who participated in this process.

We simply reject the notion that the successful Juried Exhibition was a tale of one sponsor and one photographer, who happen to be neighbors. The empirical evidence is clear. The sponsor of the prize obviously did not effect the selections. Why else would the photograph have been included in the exhibition in the first place? And we can’t help but wonder, what if the photographer had won?

The winner’s name is Onna Jeanna Voellmer (misspelled in the review), and she submitted a compelling piece entitled “Meditating on Love.” In a post she writes how she came to create this work:

“Everyday is a decision …a decision about how to respond….Can I acknowledge the bad in the world without becoming negative, feeding into the power of fear, and the squabbles, and the hatred? …because really, it is easier to be negative, to complain, to be scared, to live in fear, to get into an argument. It is easier to give in to the power of anger and of fear, than it is to stand up and say I choose love and I see the beauty in the world…”

We’re going to take a cue from this artist, and believe in the power of beauty and love too.

With this in mind, we are unequivocally unapologetic about this successful event and proud of the number of submissions received, the clean jury process, the number of art purchases and the warm energy that filled the Heard’s beautiful Steele Auditorium.

As previously stated, we are looking forward to further developing the long-standing connection between artists and patrons with future events and initiatives.

Artlink is very much alive. We are firmly focused on our mission and looking forward to next year’s exhibition.

UPDATE: Phoenix New Times has posted the following correction to their review.
Correction: This post has been edited from its original version to reflect the correct spelling of Onna Jeanna Voellmer’s name. It has also been updated to reflect that the $16,000 spent on art at this exhibition was a total amount including Baron’s purchases and those of other patrons, and that Artlink paid for the runner-up prizes.