Last Thursday, Joel Parsons was going through the 70 or so entries for the annual "Best of Memphis" show at the University of Memphis' student-run Box Gallery. The show is open to all area college students taking art classes. Represented at this year's show are Christian Brothers University, Rhodes College, Memphis College of Art, and the University of Memphis.
"It's a really good mix of photos, paintings, and sculpture," says Parsons. He was at the moment pondering certain groupings. He was intrigued by how artists were treating the head, everything from the selfie to portraits. Landscapes were up for consideration as well. Another was the abstraction of the body — broken or made strange.
Parsons, who is the gallery director of Rhodes' Clough-Hanson Gallery, serves as the third juror of "Best of Memphis." The first was David Lusk of David Lusk Gallery and the second artist Tad Lauritzen Wright.
Caitlin Hettich, of Box Gallery, says that the jurors are selected by committee, and they aim to get someone who has the time, an interesting aesthetic, and who can draw people to the gallery. She says the Lusk show was more inclusive, while Lauritzen Wright picked works that fit more into his own aesthetic. Some of the works in the past shows Hettich found amazing, some not so much. Is it the best of Memphis? That's in the eye of beholder, and "That's the beauty of it," says Hettich.