Josie Lopez from Albuquerque is juror of this year’s Juried Exhibit at Durango Arts Center, which will open Friday.
This is DAC’s 42nd juried show, and it’s national, which means that submissions were accepted for consideration from artists around the country.
Lopez, who is curator of 516 Arts in Albuquerque and has served as a juror before at the Albuquerque Museum, said for local artists, though, there’s an added benefit. On Saturday, she’ll offer one-on-one portfolio critiques for artists. It was this experience of giving feedback that led to Lopez being suggested for this year’s juror.
“We knew that one of the components that (Exhibits Director Peter Hay) wanted to include in the juried show is also giving artists the opportunity to get feedback on their portfolios,” Lopez said, adding that critique is great because “it provides another level of an arts center basically being a catalyst for creativity in interesting ways.”
And for the show, Lopez had her work cut out for her: She had to whittle the pieces down from more than 200 to about 50.
“What I tend to do, is you essentially start out by just looking at the work and visually getting a sense of what’s there,” she said. “Initially what I did was just a very quick run-through and just visually looked at the work and gave it a one through a five.”
Lopez said there are a few specific qualities she looks for when selecting pieces for a show, which can be a challenge when assessing pieces online rather than in person.
“What I look for initially is sort of what is the technique, how is the artist essentially engaging with some kind of interesting materials or technique or approach that sets the work apart from the other works,” she said. “As someone who is engaged with contemporary art, some of the major kinds of elements that artists tend to grapple with are the works in relationship to the body, or the work’s relationship to the space, or thinking in terms of what exactly are the social or cultural kinds of interactions that are happening, whether it’s art historical or society in general.”
She said that after she goes through that initial once-over, she delves deeper into the pieces – looking for bigger meaning.
“Once I get past the basic elements of lines, materials, technique, then the big question is, how is the artist engaging with some of those larger themes, and how does the work, then, elevate that discourse in some way?”
A visit to DAC’s Barbara Conrad Gallery shows that Lopez’s selections make for a full show, encompassing a variety of media and themes.
“I worked with Peter to get a sense of the space – that was the other consideration for this show that’s a little bit different because it was sort of thinking about what could conceivably work in the space,” she said. “He gave me an idea about the floor plan, but also the number of works that have been included in the past.”