Now in its eighth year, Art in the High Desert (AHD) has become a popular destination for art buyers, making it one of the many local organizations whose efforts are putting Bend on the art tourism map. Ranked 12th in the nation for sales by Art Fair Sourcebook, AHD is surpassing many of the area's more well-established juried art shows, such as Portland's Art in the Pearl—which, in turn, makes it an attractive place for local and regional artists to sell their works.
The selection committee received 617 applications for 2015's show from hopeful artists competing for just 114 booth spots, according to AHD co-founder and commercial fused glass artist Dave Fox.
And, to give a peek behind the curtain at the historically secretive process of how those 114 spaces are awarded, for the second year in a row, the organization will preview its jury selection to the public for a peek behind the curtain
"The intent is to show the public...what the jury sees," said Fox. "For the artist interested in applying, it's a great opportunity."
Every applicant submits five photographs of their work, a booth mock-up, and artist statement to Zapplication.org. The jury, which changes every year and includes at least two local or regional jurors, will use the Denver-based ZAPP application and projection technology to view the 2015 roster of hopeful artists. Current applicants are invited to attend the preview March 27 at 4 pm in Bend's Old Mill District to see for themselves how the jury will be viewing their application images—and see them projected alongside the work of their competition.
"We really believe it's important to open up the selection process and encourage other shows to be as transparent as we are," said Fox.
The jury—and the public in attendance at Friday's preview—will offer their critiques blindly; the only information associated with each application will be a random numerical reference. This ensures an impartial and objective jury, according to Fox.
"It doesn't matter where [the artists] come from, it doesn't matter how many times they've been in the show or which awards they've won. All we want is for [the jury] to look at what they applied with—there's no preferences given to anyone."
The AHD jury takes its commitment to transparency a step further by giving each applicant the opportunity to receive jury feedback for a fee of $20. After this weekend's selection process ends, Fox and his wife—AHD Director and jewelry artist Carla Fox—will spend six weeks compiling the verbatim jury reactions to the work of 62 artists who have requested their evaluations.
"We really try to walk our talk," said Fox. "If we want people to take this application seriously and give us their best shot, we want to reward them for that."
The jury preview is open to the public and will take place March 27 from 4 – 6 pm in Bend's Old Mill District, 330 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite #130.