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Juried Shows: A Juror's Inside Story 

Gary Smith www.escapewithgary.comGary Smith is well-known in the Toronto art community. Gary is  a talented artist, a master of relationship building and a whirlwind of activity. If you missed my interview with him, you can read it here. 

"Just a painter," he says, "who is fascinated with people and loves life, painting and teaching." Gary is a high energy guy who has enjoyed teaching from Grade 1 to the MBA in university, owned an Apple Computer Dealership, was a Director of Businessland Inc. (a $50 million company), was the Vice-Chairman of The Artists' Network in Canada (to help artists improve their art business skills) and now just paints and teaches. He lives his artistic life and sells his art very creatively and joyfully. He takes artists abroad to paint and even coaches an artist in Japan online using Skype.

On my recent trip to Toronto, we walked the Riverdale Art Walk, an annual juried show in the Beaches area. Actually, I should say we crawled. We couldn't go more than a step or two before someone stopped to talk with him or he called out a greeting. Did I mention that he is a master of relationships?

Artists often tell me that they don't want to enter juried shows because they fear rejection. That's human nature. We put a lot of care into something and want that care to be noticed and respected. When our work is not accepted, or we don't win the prize we wanted, it doesn't necessarily mean that the work is bad. Most times, the work is simply not a fit with the tastes of the viewer, the requirements of the competition or the highly subjective nature of the whole jurying process.

I asked Gary to tell you a bit about his approach to jurying. He does not represent all jurors, but his words reveal some of what's behind the curtain when he is a juror. Here is Gary's compassionate guidance to artists for Art in the Park.

JUROR'S INTENT ~ June 2011

"It is with pleasure and a deep sense of responsibility that I will be your jurist for The Scarborough Arts Council's Art in the Park in August. In fairness we all have different art backgrounds and tastes so let me give you a sense of mine."


"I have sold my paintings and drawings for 49 years. I earned a certificate as Art Supervisor for school boards, a degree in Art from University of Guelph, and in recent years have been pushing my skills further at the Art Academy of Canada. My media are pastels, acrylics and oils. Where most artists learned to draw with pencil I learned with soft pastels.

"For 2 years at Expo I drew portraits 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It was wonderful and helped my drawing.

"In Toronto, I am represented exclusively by the John Libby Gallery so you may rightly deduce that my paintings are fairly conservative.

"Honestly I love teaching art as much as I do making it.  Locally I teach painting, life drawing and portraiture at LucSculpture, and here and abroad I offer painting 'escapes.' The next is in Prince Edward County June/2011 (sorry it is full already.)

"I constantly look at a lot of art, of all types. You are welcome to visit mine and that of my students at  so you can 'judge' for yourself.

"Previously, as Vice-Chairman of the Artists' Network I was also involved helping artists with the business of art.

"You may contact me and see my and my students' work at"



(each part from 1 to 10)

"The jury process of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair sent the individual's results to each artist. Every one of us felt that this was of good value. So I will do the same for you. Of course there is no guarantee that you will agree with my opinions but at least you will have feedback about how your submitted art was perceived.

"Good Luck to you all. "


1 Technical Mastery
The art demonstrates proficiency in the medium and in drawing.


2 Creativity
This is very arbitrary but I look for something fresh visually as in composition, point of view, subject, etc. or conceptually.


3 Impact or mystery
of the overall impression
Is it a piece that impels a viewer to stop, ponder and enjoy?



YOUR TOTAL  ______________


"I'm a painter's painter, a teacher who is  a catalyst to coach you to your own greatness, an entrepreneur, and a computer junkie. I totally enjoy my very active life as an artist and enjoy the results I get out of artists who escape with me to improve their painting and have fun at the same time. No wonder that I am a big fan of Aletta de Wal who has guided me both creatively and wisely.

"I have lived long enough to have experience in all genres and art situations and I truly feel a sense of mission to share these in helpful ways."   ~Gary Smith


Eric Armusik www.ericarmusik.comTo add to Gary's advice, oil painter Eric Armusik gives this counsel:

"Obstacles are everywhere in this profession. You have to understand that early on. The sooner you get a thick skin the better. You will fail, but you have to get back up and forge ahead. It is a law of averages. Over time, if you continue to fight, and you are vigilant, you will succeed. You have to keep pushing and pushing until people have heard your name so much that you become a staple in your regional or worldwide art community.

"You will deal with rejections from juried shows, art galleries, and commissions. The key is to not take it personally. MOST times it has NOTHING to do with your art or your abilities. There are so many people in this profession all fighting for the same results. You have to keep honing your abilities at what you do, stay focused, stay professional and continue to work at it everyday. In the end you WILL succeed."

You can read related articles here:

Enter Juried Shows the S.M.A.R.T. Way 

Three Good Reasons to Enter Juried Competitions 

The Ins and Outs of Juried Shows 


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P.S. Got question about how to build your art business? You can have a complimentary 15-minute conversation (if you haven't already had one). This isn't a replacement for coaching or a longer consultation, but perhaps we can help point you in the right direction.

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