CARLSBAD — “Oh geez,” whispered Charles Dozer.
Judges Richard Hawk and Pat Kelly were in the process of studying the photography entries in the COAL (Carlsbad and Oceanside Art League) Gallery’s 62nd Annual Juried Awards Show on July 29.
Dozer, the Galley’s President, watched at a distance, biting his lower lip, as the two considered his own entry and those of his competitors.
With $2,400 in cash prizes on the line in the COAL Gallery’s second biggest show of the year, Dozer and other volunteers juggled the thrill of having so many high quality entries in the show with the anxiety of having their own work reviewed.
The COAL Gallery has been a staple in the North County art community since it opened in 1951, and offers a space for local artists to show their work and collaborate with each other.
This year’s juried awards show consisted of 295 entries ranging from sculptures to photography to oil painting to drawing, said Judy Richardson, the show’s director.
She also had pieces entered in the show. She said that while watching their work being viewed, volunteers present were obligated to keep mum so the judges remained unaware of who created which piece.
“We can’t cry, scream. We don’t say a word.”
Judges Hawk and Kelly, both well-established San Diego artists and teachers, evaluated the pieces before the show’s opening to give time for volunteers to hang the winning pieces and return about 100 rejected pieces.
“Artists have to be thick-skinned,” said Bob Mussay, the COAL Gallery’s director, as he waited for his oil painting to be evaluated.
“You can have a piece that one judge accepts, another rejects. That’s just the way it goes.”
But despite the vulnerability of being judged, the artists agreed that entering the show is worth it for the unique exposure COAL Gallery offers North County artists.
“To be around that level of artists is really neat,” said Dozer. He said that he enjoys studying other photographers who enter their work in the COAL Gallery’s shows.
“You’re always learning as an artist,” said Mussay. “You can always pick up different things (other artists have) done, different techniques they’ve used.”
Furthermore, Dozer noted that the gallery’s location attracts a lot of tourists and community members, giving artists a greater audience for their work and exposure to potential buyers.
“I think we’ve seen some truly original things in this show,” Hawk said as he judged, noting how impressed he was with the 3D pieces. “There’s a wonderful diversity of work.”
“There’s a lot more artists in San Diego County than we commonly think,” said Kelly. “The quality just shows and grabs you right away.”
The COAL Gallery’s 62nd Annual Juried Awards Show will run from July 31 through Sept. 8 at 300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Suite 101.
For more information about the COAL Gallery, visit coalartgallery.com.