Expect the Unexpected
Nick Capasso, director of the Fitchburg Art Museum, has juried dozens of exhibitions, including shows at the Cambridge Art Association, Attleboro Arts Museum, Worcester State University, ArtsWorcester, 119 Gallery (Lowell) and Newton Media Center, as well as New American Paintings magazine. One suspects his willingness to serve in this role for so many different organizations is part of his endless search for the best possible artwork for his museum, as well as to make sure he doesn’t miss out on the next great regional artist; he’s well known for showing up, unannounced and unexpectedly, at gallery shows as part of that mission.
For most of those aforementioned shows, there was a clear charge for the kind of show he was assembling. However, for “Out of Order,” other than offering the exhibition’s title, the South Shore Art Center was nebulous in describing the kind of work it sought to have submitted, offering no further guidelines. This provided as much a challenge to Capasso as having to narrow down the 400-plus submitted artworks to “a mere 50,” each requiring “a great deal of close looking, careful consideration and tough choices.”
“This yielded a broad and rich set of interpretations, which included (for the most part) formal tensions between order and chaos, emotional extremes, disturbed psychological states, literal images of broken things, symbols of disorder and slices of improbable narrative,” Capasso said. “I elected to impose no particular order of my own, and followed the artists’ lead.”
In addition to considerations of content, Capasso applied the aesthetic yardsticks that he applies to every jury situation: “All chosen work must exhibit mastery of medium and craft, as well as visual integrity across the entirety of the image (or object). The very best works exhibit an organic, mutually reinforcing unity of form, content and subject matter.” He did not know the names of the artists whose work he was judging.