Can you hold an art awards show online and have people actually show up to look at the art?
That’s the question this year’s Northern Juried Art Show (NJAS) organizing committee asked themselves, fingers crossed, for months as they planned this year’s show.
Turns out, the answer happily is yes!
About 60 people tuned into the NJAS 2021 YouTube channel the evening of May 27 to view the award-winning artworks.
This year’s Zoom format, made necessary by COVID, meant that cherished traditions like the reception meet-and-greet just couldn’t happen. And being able to appreciate subtleties like textures in a work, or to walk around a three-dimensional piece to really take it in—the kinds of experiences you can only get by physically being there—also weren’t possible.
But a huge positive was that so many more people from across the north were able to see the artworks this year. That’s because the host community changes each year, and with the distances between northern communities, it’s usually only local folks that see a Northern Juried Art Show. This year however, viewers from anywhere could attend in real time.
Our jurors this year were Manitoba artists Luther Pokrant, Sarah Crawley and Lisa Wood. Luther Pokrant works primarily in oils and acrylics. Sarah Crawley does a lot of work with pinhole photography which is a fascinating low-tech medium, and Lisa Wood’s current paintings explore the lively dynamics of situations and places where people gather together to eat, like cafeterias. Sarah’s and Lisa’s artist talks are also on the NJAS 2021 YouTube channel. Highly recommended viewing!
And watch for three more online opportunities this summer and fall. First, the Manitoba Arts Network will post a curated NJAS online through July-August. This will showcase 69 adult and 27 youth entries.
Then in September, The Pas Arts Council will post all 120 works submitted for the NJAS on its website. Here’s where you’ll see the full slate of works in acrylic, oil and watercolour painting, fibre arts, three-dimensional pieces, drawing, printmaking, and photography. In total, 58 adult and youth artists from Brochet, Churchill, Creighton, Cranberry Portage, Denare Beach, Flin Flon, Lynn Lake, Norway House, The Pas, Thompson and Wanless submitted entries.
Third, also in September, the Manitoba Arts Network will showcase the winning artworks from all the regional juried art shows from across Manitoba.
As for next year’s NJAS, which community will host, and whether it will be in-person, online or a combination, has yet to be decided. Whichever community ends up hosting, our committee here found that doing this year’s online show was a great experience, and we’re happy to pass on what we learned!