At the 2004 Loveland Art ShowAs a career banker for over three decades, and, “back-in-the-day”, as a Bank President, I was actually called upon twice that I can recall, to serve as a Judge!  Once as a beauty pagent judge and once for a civic cooking-receipe-contest for a local newspaper.  As a banker, I found myself in court from time to time; always on the side of the “good” guys.  Many of my impressions of the parade of judges that I’ve encountered there, were distastful and dissappointing. Over a quarter of a century ago, one of my passions was my beautiful German Shepherd, “Candy von Westendorf”. Candy was very large, very trained and awesome in every way. I  trained her extensively in “obedience”. My brief  brush with dog-shows tended to convince me that those judges didn’t know “squat”; not because of who they didn’t pick to be winners but because of who they did pick. The “cronie” situation” was alive and well.  Apparently, it’s everywhere! Eventually, I took up woodcarving (a fluke!) over two decades ago. My first show was at the encouragement of my teacher in my first year of woodcarving. I didn’t even know that there were such things as shows.   Although I was fortunate to win a Blue in Category in my very first show and a Green in Novice in the second show, I was an unhappy camper due to the overall judging which tended to keep the majority of top-awards “in the family”.    So, many years later, we exhibited our carvings in an outdoor Art Show along with about a hundred other artists of all kinds. Throngs surrounded our table all day. I spotted the judge pausing for about two seconds in the rear of our “throng”  to glimpse our “stuff”. She quickly moved-on and didn’t come back. At the end of the day it was announced that the Winner of the Show was a wood-turner whose “bowl” she loved.  She was the only judge and the wood-turner was the Judge’s husband! Ouch! I was reminded that my old opinion of some “judges” apparently still held true. Over the years, I’ve observed the process  thinking that one carving genre, i.e. “chip-carvers”, “fish-carvers”, “critter-carvers”  or “relief- carvers” might have difficulty judging mine and vice-versa!  Well, that still holds kinda true but. I  have lately kinda mellowed my opinion.   I realize this may sound a lot like “sour grapes”. I remind myself that “sour-grapes” actually do exist! I do appreciate shows that combine genres in the judging-team.  Over the years, I’ve been approached a couple of times to serve as a judge. I’ve politely declined each time, until recently. I’ve  said to some  that I wouldn’t be technically qualified to judge charactertures or chip carvings, etc. Well, that excuse has worn thin, even in my own ears. It’s true, I’m drawn to what I like. So, probably, are you.  By now, I realize, that  I do know the difference between “good” and “excellent”, etc. and that is important!  I also know that most judges work at it selflessly and to make a genuine contribution to the art and to the process. All of my comments herein are about the exceptions to the rule and not about the majority of the  judges I’ve known. I’ve decided to give it a go.

Happy birding and carving,  Bill