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September 26, 2022

The Aser Stories 10: Awards

By Sand Pilarski

There is a thing about rural life that really bugs me. Maybe it's the same in big cities, but I'm a hedge shaman, not an Apartment 7G shaman. When there are awards to be given out at the various kingdom and desmesne fairs, why are the judges more inclined to look to see the name under the entry in a competition rather than use their eyeballs and what other senses are required and JUDGE the damn entry?

I walk into the tent where local artists have submitted their paintings and ceramics and textiles, and I see some really good work. A painting of a zebra, vibrant and bright against a russet background. Balance, color, worth standing there and looking at. No prize. Beside it, the mayor's cousin's daughter has submitted a garish picture of what appears to be a cow with a board up its ass, judging from the lack of knowledge of what a horse is supposed to look like, on a smeary background of ill-chosen greens and browns. The wall-eyed cow-horse has a red ribbon on it. Best in show goes to a huge picture of a stiff, staring mother with torpedo breasts exposed and a doll-like ugly baby figure attached to one of them. Creator of this Frankenstein's Madonna? The acclaimed artiste who lives at the castle and deigns to give 'instruction' in art at the village craft shop.

A blue ribbon adorns a dumb vase of yellow daisies in the floral arrangement section, while a simple but breathtaking display of lilies gets but an honorable mention. Two women with nasal twangs walking ahead of me say, "Oh, look, Mavis' daisies got a blue. She deserves it, she never got an award before, it's about time they got around to giving her a ribbon."

Maybe that's the crux of it -- being given an award rather than earning one. Does that mean that if you're an idiot all your life, sooner or later someone will give you an award for just hanging in there and managing to survive? If you want your artistry to be recognized, do you have to glad-hand all the local important people and grovel for a well-known patron?

And when you do, and succeed thereby, how will you know if it's for your art or for your subservience? Is creative effort supposed to be all about recognition? Or monetary recompense for your time spent? Isn't that just work?

Money is good to have now and then. But when the stuff, be it painting, or writing, or jam-making or singing just pours out of you, with no regard for what it will get you, then it's pure creativity, free and wild, and worth every effort.

Once, years ago, I drew a great piece of art that should have been hung in a museum for all the world to admire, and was worth more than its weight in gold. I still think on it fondly, and muse upon the ephemeral nature of art. It was a portrait of Chiernavan the Elf that captured her essence and identity, entitled, "For a Lousy Time, Call Chiernavan at 555-4400."

Alas, there's no way the museum would hang the spray-painted door from a restroom in a bus station in Jotunheim.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-04-30
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