As I think about the pieces I might submit for this year's Palos Verdes Art Center holiday exhibit, I am still enjoying the buzz from having had several pieces in last year's event, one of which, "A Propensity for Dendridic Arbors," was honored with a Best of Show award given by the Open Artists Group. The award came as a pleasant surprise--I have always considered myself fortunate simply to have work accepted. Why? Because there are a lot of talented people also presenting their best efforts, so the selection process always has an element of chance and subjectivity. The quality is certainly there, but some work may not meet the curator's taste or vision. And while it is always a bit disappointing not to make the cut, it is a part of the process.
Having the piece accepted was particularly rewarding as it had an unusual evolution. Some months earlier I'd been thrashing around ideas for another exhibit, "Optic Nerve" and while driving I caught a broadcast of Radiolab on the topic of neural enrichment. The phrase "a propensity for dendric arbors" stuck. I could envision dendrites, the fibers of nerves branching out like tree branches. It struck me once again how effective patterns in nature seem to find a way to multiple uses and in very different domains. And the metaphoric nature of language tied things together as the nerve fibers branch out in tree-like structures intertwining as they send electrical impulses through the nervous system.
The piece was received well, but it seemed cramped being contained in a 16x20-inch mat and frame. It wanted to be larger. As an experiment, I had the image printed on a smooth satiny fabric through a dye sublimation process, which allowed a larger printed image than I might have otherwise done (50x36 inches). It was submitted as a long hanging and I found that while there was no glass cleaning involved, the piece did require ironing.
So, here is am, on the verge of preparing this year's submission. As I look through the images I've created, considering which ones to enter, trying to once again to select pieces that might catch the curators eye, and yet trying to have no expectation of success, I also need to keep in mind that the work is the work. But without ironing this year.