Some Thoughts on Juried Contests

Most of what follows is in response to a couple of “less than kind” messages that we have received.

Anything in the arts, when it is being judged, is subjective… subject to the personal whims, training, prejudices, background and experience of the judge(s). Although we have discussed, and would prefer, having more than one juror for our shows, it would not eliminate the possibility of having the “wrong” photos chosen as winners… and there is a large cost factor for the Arts Council.

We lose money on the Photo Shootout and the Art Contest every year. Entry fees only cover 30-50% of the prize money awarded. It costs money, also, to bring a juror to Vernal, reimburse them for their travel and meal expenses and house them for a night. Multiply that by two or three and we have probably reached the “Why are we doing this?” stage.  It would cost less to have local judges, but then half of the people don’t like them anymore and publicly castigate them and threaten their children. So, to avoid trouble, we bring jurors from outside the area. It seems that we appreciate the juror’s hard work and willingness to serve in years when we win… and hate the juror and the system in years when we are not the winner.

We try to keep entry fees at a minimum to encourage more participation. And we know that the entry fees are only part of the cost to the entrants. Even doubling the entry fees, at this point, wouldn’t cover the prize money that we give out… and I’m pretty sure participation would go down.

We, the Uintah Arts Council, have been using one (individual) juror for the Photo Shootout for 19 years. Is it a perfect system? No. Has it worked well for the majority of entrants year after year? Yes. Did all of the entrants read the complete contest rules… the part that says, “JUDGING: Winners will be selected by a juror or jurors chosen by Company based on relevance from among all eligible entries received. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules and the decisions of the juror, which shall be final and binding in all respects. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. All prizes may or may not be awarded. Winners will be notified via email, U.S. mail, telephone, and/or in person.” Probably not. Have any entrants been coerced, bullied or threatened into entering the contest? No. Was anyone guaranteed a prize? No.

Just a side note… 27 photos won cash prizes this year… out of 85 photos entered. That is a 1 in 3 chance that your photo might win a cash prize. You won’t find many contests with those odds.

I, honestly, was very pleased with this years show. I think all of the photographers did an excellent job. We had many veterans of our shows, and quite a few newcomers. We spread the wealth… there were lots of different prize winners. We spread the word… more people know about our shows now than before. Was I happy with the outcome? Very! Would I have chosen the exact same winners throughout the show? No… but I was not asked to be the judge (and don’t want to be). Do I think that the juror was fair and made the right choices? Yes!

So, in this day of instant communication, we sometimes need to measure our responses to anything and everything that we are not in 100% agreement with. We need to take a few minutes and realize that, first of all, we don’t have all of the facts. Second, we’re pretty lucky, I think, to have some of the arts opportunities that come our way in this remote, small town. If it’s not good enough, donate some money… or time. Try to make things better… not just tear it down. Third, if you don’t like the rules or the outcome (past or future), don’t enter the contest.

For those who entered the Photo Shootout, whether you won a cash prize or not, thank you for getting involved. Thank you for putting part of yourself out there in the public eye. I hope you had fun. I hope you’ll do it again. I hope we can keep encouraging and promoting activities like this in our area. Go create something… it’ll make you, and me, feel better.

Theme for 2015 Art & Photo Contests Announced

Here’s the theme for this year’s contests:

Circles, Columns & Rows

Our Annual Juried Art Contest will be back to its traditional spot in June–entries will be accepted May 28th & 29th… and the Annual Juried Photo Shootout will again be in October. Detailed dates are published. There have also been some very minor rule adjustments for the Photo Shootout for this year.

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The Outlaw Trail Festival of the Arts is a part of the 
Uintah Arts Council

Photo Shootout Winners Announced!

2014 Winners

Best of Show – Rod Martinez: White River Winds Through Fall Colors – #39

river and hills

Best of Show – Rod Martinez

[Numbers refer to display placement at the museum in the show]

Theme Division

Child 1st Place – Sienna Ratieta: Light Through a Window – #40

Amateur 1st Place – Sky Olsen: Introspection – #23

Amateur 2nd Place – Cheryl Stocks: Capistrano’s Chimes – #66

Advanced Amateur 1st Place – Pam Wardell: October Surprise – #19

Advanced Amateur 2nd Place – Ellen Brown: Ross Castle Moat-Ireland – #33

Professional 1st Place – Tamra Hamblin Ratieta: Through An Icy Window – #67

Landscape – Open Division

Child 1st Place – Sienna Ratieta: Misty Mountain – #47

Child 2nd Place – Sienna Ratieta: Zion – #21

Amateur 1st Place – Kellie Shepard: Winter Falls – #5

Amateur 2nd Place – Jordan Evans: Autumn Desolation – #2

Advanced Amateur 1st Place – R. Gary Dow: Mirrored Meditation – #32

Advanced Amateur 2nd Place – Chad Hamblin: Willow Creek Overlook – #26

Pro 1st Place – Rod Martinez: Monument Valley – #22

People – Open Division

Amateur 1st Place – Aubrey Janowicz: Small Wonders – #36

Amateur 2nd Place – Marilyn Wallis: Sharing Wisdom – #10

Advanced Amateur 1st Place – Angela Hanberg: Father of the Bride – #31

Advanced Amateur 2nd Place – Corina Ackerman: Sunshine – #27

Pro 1st Place – Karri Morris: American Summer – #46

Pro 2nd Place – Tamra Hamblin Ratieta: Friends – #28

Flora/Fauna – Open Division

Child 1st Place – Sienna Ratieta: Elliot – #84

Amateur 1st Place – Kelli Shepard: Elsa’s Flora – #71

Amateur 2nd Place – Sky Olsen: Got Milk? – #78

Advanced Amateur 1st Place – Debi Tracy: Green Green (Silk) Grass of Home – #13

Advanced Amateur 2nd Place – R. Gary Dow: Serenity – #11

Pro 1st Place – Tamra Hamblin Ratieta: Honey Bee – #62

Pro 2nd Place – Rod Martinez: Good Morning – #24


Our Juror, Mike Conaway, is an award winning photographer with over 40 years of hard work and dedication to his photography. He has been published and has had exhibits throughout Wyoming and Montana. His work has been selected for the museum at the University of Wyoming Contemporary Art in Wyoming Traveling Exhibit, and has been selected for the Wyoming Governors’ Capital Art Exhibit throughout the last several years.
“My sole purpose in this photographic journey is to share with my audience my love for this art and the environment in which we all are a part.”

Photo Shootout GalleryRod Martinez & Christine SmithIMG_3265 Ed

IMG_3264 Ed

IMG_3247 Ed

Ready, Set, Show!

The 2014 Photo Shootout is under way. The photos were juried on Saturday. And they are now on display and ready for the public.

The winners will be announced Thursday evening, October 9, 2014 at approximately 7 PM during the Open House/Reception for the photographers, families and the community… which will begin at 6:30 PM and run until 8 PM at the Uintah County Heritage Museum, 155 East Main Street (the former library location).

It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a fantastic show! Great job, photographers!

The show will continue to be on display during the month of October… the photos should be picked up by the photographers on Saturday, November 1st.