Sunday, May 5, 2019

My Experience As An SAA Juror

 My first time as an SAA juror by Rachelle Siegrist

Max hanging out with jurors Sherrie, Roger and Kim

     Wes and I left for Chicago last Tuesday morning, to attend the Society of Animal Artists spring meeting.  Our plane took off on time and landed in Atlanta, where our connecting flight was delayed a couple of hours due to very bad storms in the Chicago area.  They finally boarded us and before landing, I was delighted the clouds parted enough to reveal Chicago below, allowing us to see the "Sears Tower" rising above the clouds!  Others flights had been delayed as well, so we all ended up at O'Hare Airport at about the same time, before heading to SAA President Reneé and husband Brian's beautiful home.  
     The next morning fellow Board members and guest jurors serving on the SAA jury joined us at  Reneé's, and it was time to get busy.  We spent eight hours that day looking through around 400 images, from which pieces were selected for the upcoming Annual Exhibition which will be at the beautiful Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, TX.  The jurying takes place in their home theater and I was delighted to get to sit in the massage chair, where I enjoyed numerous back and foot massages throughout the day!  The group views all submissions in a random order before the actual jurying process begins, and there is absolutely no conversation allowed during this initial viewing nor during the jurying process.  As each image is projected onto the screen, the jurors sit in a dark room, while a cup is passed around and each member discretely places either a white marble for "Yes" or a black marble for "No" into the cup.  Jurors cannot see into the cup, so votes are completely hidden.

The room where the jurying for the annual show takes place

When all jurors have voted and the two cups are passed back, Reneé counts the marbles, announcing aloud the number of "Yes" votes.  If a juror needs a break at any time, there is an alternate juror who temporarily takes their place.  It was quite amazing how much of the time, the 9 jurors choices were in unison or close to it.  Since signatures are removed from submitted works by the SAA executive director (Wes), decisions are based solely on each juror's perception of the work. It's a very long day, as we viewed submissions for over 8 hours!  That evening, Board members who'd arrived during the day joined us for a dinner party, and the kitchen became abuzz with activity, with many of us helping out and cooking, filling the air with delicious aromas!

Hanging out while getting ready for dinner

Afterward came the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, whilst feasting and enjoying lots of laughter and wonderful conversation!  A highlight of the dinner conversation at our table was the stories Reneé and Brian shared about their experiences with spinner dolphins, rays and the likes while in Costa Rica!  Later that evening the group excitedly viewed for the first time, the accepted artwork that would comprise the upcoming annual show at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

Allen, Me, Roger, Brian, Reneé, Chris, Jim, and Sherrie

The next day started early once again as we headed to the hotel where most of the members were staying and our Board meeting was to be held.  The agenda was a long one, so we got right to work discussing issues, and planning some exciting future events for the SAA. During our lunch break, we juried the new member submissions. As images by each artist are projected onto the screen, the group views them and is allowed to discuss them. Then votes are then cast, by a raising of hands for either "Signature", "Associate", "Resubmit" or "No".   Excitedly, 14 new members were accepted this time. Thankfully, even though the agenda was packed, things went fairly smooth and after another 8-hour meeting, by 5 o'clock that evening, we had accomplished everything we needed to do!

The Board Meeting

That evening, it was time to relax for a while at a restaurant nearby, where we once again enjoyed delicious food, lots of great laughter and conversation!  Afterward, we said our goodbyes and our crew headed back to Reneé's.  The next morning we thanked Reneé and Brian for their wonderful hospitality and I petted sweet Max one last time, before heading back to the airport.  Once home, Wes got busy with a mountain of SAA work, as he had to send out over 1,000 emails to the artists and Board members.  Thankfully, everything is progressing well and we're eager to join fellow artists this fall in San Antonio, TX for the opening weekend!

Until next time . . . 

Rachelle Siegrist for the SAA