I’ve just received my 170th consecutive job application rejection. Over the past 40 years, I’ve submitted to 170 municipal open call public art competitions and I’ve been rejected from all of them. Every. Single. One. I’ve never won a municipal open call public art competition. I’m including a few dozen sculpture symposium applications in my 170 count, as they, too result in a public artwork. From Victoria, BC to St. John. NF, from Alaska to Guatemala and a few in Europe and the Middle East – it is abundantly clear that public art committees do not want a Binkley.
Not the perfect score one wishes for.
I wrote a four part blog on the Fallacy of Public Art in 2012 and vowed to stop entering municipal open call public art competitions at that time. But since then, I’ve won several private and corporate open call public art competitions, so I thought these in my pedigree would be of merit for municipal open calls. Wrong. It appears nothing has changed since 2012.
This last rejection was for the District of West Vancouver’s Cultural Services Department that is looking for a public artwork for the exterior of the West Vancouver Recreation Centre. I’ve done some work for the District over the past few years – reworking some marble blocks in John Lawson Park and repairing a jade fountain (coincidentally, a winning design by a landscape architect, not an artist and a competition I was rejected from) – so I thought perhaps cultivating a working relationship with Cultural Services would give merit to my application. Again, wrong.
Let’s review what I have that would be of benefit to a public art project:
I have 40 years experience proposing, executing and delivering literally hundreds of sculpture commissions. I have 40 years experience successfully managing projects with budgets ranging from a few hundred dollars, to 100 million dollars, dealing with multiple stake holders that include clients, architects, landscape designers, gallery owners, art consultants, building contractors, lawyers and insurance agents. I am certainly a professional artist, as I make and sell art for a living. I’m not an architect, landscape designer, lawyer, waiter, taxi driver or kinesiologist who dabbles in art on the weekends. I have a portfolio of over 10,000 completed and sold artworks. Some of these are public artworks that I have completed through a private open call competition, a closed call competition or a direct selection. I work in the strongest and most durable material known to Man.
But this is of no consequence to government run open call public art competition juries.
Let’s review what I do not have:
I do not have a post-secondary diploma of any kind. Not in architecture, or landscape design, or law, or physics, or teaching or gallery curation. With a few exceptions, these and many others are the types of professions that are not only accepted as entrants into municipal public art competitions, but who are awarded projects. I have never been to an art school, and therefore not graduated from one. I’ve never worked in a man-made medium for my sculptures.
I’ve reviewed the competitions I’ve been rejected from, and noticed a theme in regards to the winning entrants. 1) With a few exceptions, none are professional artists – even though EVERY competition called for professional artists to enter. 2) In the few exceptions where an actual artist was selected, it was one who has a diploma of some sort from an art school. 3) Most ‘art’ solutions are executed in man made materials – metal, glass, plastic, etc. Few are created in natural materials, even though stone is the most durable of mediums.
Adding insult to injury is that of the public art pieces I do have in North Vancouver, Vancouver and White Rock, BC, none are recognized in that particular municipality’s public art roster.
The municipal public art racket is a closed “Boys Club”, and I just do not have the qualifications needed to join the club. I stand by my convictions criticizing public art programs as being corrupt, immoral and unethical. Read my evergreen posts Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3 & Pt. 4 on the Fallacy of Public Art.
So, in keeping with the new decade of 2020, honouring my 40 years in business, and opening a new studio/gallery, this was the last municipal open call public art competition I will enter. I’m not going to waste any more time with these bogus circuses.
This time, I will definitely turn over a new leaf.
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