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Get Rejected From MOCA, You’ll Be Better For It

New Waves 2019 Installation view. Photo by Echard Wheeler

Submissions are due January 13th for the 25th juried exhibition of New Waves, an annual exhibition featuring Virginia artists. If you’re looking to grow as an artist you should apply, because there’s a good chance you won’t get in.

You read that last line correctly. Not getting into a show like New Waves is a great opportunity for you to evolve as an artist. It would be great to get in. I was lucky to have a piece selected in 2018 and was even given an Honorable Mention award. However, before that, I had been rejected at least five times. Getting rejected from shows, fellowships, grants, proposals, exhibitions, etc. is a part of being an artist. Rejection is a part of being any kind of creative. Putting yourself out there and then learning that there is someone out there that doesn’t like what you’re doing or doesn’t like you as much as someone else helps you realize that you are not going to please everyone. If you’re making your work because you’re focused on your narrative, voice, vision, etc., you can better emotionally separate yourself from the idea of someone not liking your work. 

This year’s juror is Susan Thompson, an Associate Curator at the Guggenheim Museum. Someone from the Guggenheim will be looking at your work. Whether she selects your work for the show or not, you have an opportunity to have someone’s undivided attention on your creation for a few seconds who sees some of the most well-known artists in the world. Take that opportunity and appreciate what’s happening there. Celebrate your vulnerability. 

Who knows, maybe someone will like what you’re making. Maybe even someone who works at the Guggenheim. Apply here by midnight, January 13, 2020



Fear of Acceptance solo show at NEON

Last week I put on a solo show during Norfolk's 2018 NEON Festival entitled Fear of Acceptance: new works by Carl Floyd Medley III. It was an amazing experience. We had great attendance, drinks, music and a lot of really great positive energy. I couldn't have accomplished it without the help of Fang Gang partner Charles Rasputin and Careyann Weinberg of Alchemy. Also, thanks to my wife Liane, who helped me stay focused during the buildup tot the show and helped me move a ton of merch during. She is my everything. Stay tuned for more new works in the coming weeks.

About the Show:

After being awarded a 2017 professional fellowship in painting from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Carl Medley immediately set out on his most aggressive art campaign to date by applying to group exhibitions, gallery proposals, mural ideas, etc., each one ultimately resulting in rejection. From this experience Carl created a body of work that explores the rejection process as both reflection and motivation. Fear of Acceptance featuring new works by Carl Floyd Medley III is a two-sided coin: fear from a community in accepting work that creates its own narrative outside of the status quo and fear from an artist who has found comfort in being an outsider.


Creative Currency

“Cause it’s a, lot of bull$h*t floodin’ the scene
Where everybody’s a star, and hot $h*t is few and far between
We lose the grip of what, garbage mean”

- Black Thought (Star/Pointro, The Tipping Point - 2004)

Two Sides of Capitalism: Bad. Shepard Fairey. 2007. 16’ x 10’ Mixed media on wood

There should be a scale where you could measure creative net worth. It would allow everyone to avoid the discussion of “good art.” I mentioned before in a post about becoming a successful artist that “good” is subjective because, in truth, it is a shallow conversation at best. A curator of modern, South American painting is going to have a different version of “good” than a screen print shop from Buffalo New York that does concert posters. There’s no universal there in that discussion. But what if we could have universal quantifiers that allowed everyone to look at the creative world more objectively? How valuable would your creative currency be?

So what are some of the things that would go in this scale? The first thing I would include is craft. The level of thought and effort that have gone into something goes a long way even in the simplest of ideas. 

I also think it’s fair to include concept as a measure. Extra points for below surface-level meaning. I have met some incredibly dedicated artists that can create circles around people, but the work doesn’t necessarily mean that much. Remember, we’re not talking about good or bad, we’re talking about a scale. 

Ok, what’s next? Maybe we include progressiveness (is that a word)? There’s other ways to describe it, but constant growth away from a comfort level is what we’re talking about. It’s literally what defined the Impressionists and why they were so hated initially.  

So where am I going with all of this? With the rise in popularity of creative districts as marketable destinations it is a topic that needs to be discussed more if they plan on succeeding. Personally I don’t think it’s a subject that many people like to have because it is an uncomfortable one. What would the net worth of your district be based on the public art that you’re putting out? What is the ratio of support you’re giving to artists, performers and writers in relationship to businesses and developers? Are you trying to force an aesthetic and live in a comfort zone or are you trying to progress and give your residents and visitors something to be surprised and inspired by? What would the creative currency exchange rate be between a city like Richmond and a city like Virginia Beach?


La Comunidad II. Ever. 2013 Mural in Richmond, VA for G40

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