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2020 Delta des Refuses Exhibition 

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It can be argued that the Delta Exhibition, which is hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, is Arkansas’s most prestigious juried show. Open to residents of Arkansas and a handful of surrounding states, the Delta has served as a statement of artistic taste in the Mississippi Delta region since 1958. Curated by a single juror, the Delta only accepts a handful of the pieces which are submitted.

The Delta des Refusés is an artists organized exhibition to feature those artists which were rejected from the Delta Exhibition. Conceived in the spirit of the original Paris Salon des Refusés from 1863, the Delta des Refusés hopes to challenge the traditional authority of juried taste by allowing any artist who was rejected from the Delta Exhibition to exhibit in the Refusés show. The Delta des Refusés was started in 2015 and is scheduled annually to coincide with the Delta exhibition.

The Salon des Refusés sought to combat the Paris Salon system, which for a number of years, had been the arbiter of taste in European Art. Beyond that, the Paris Salon had established what was Art and what was not Art, thus leading to the rise of some artists careers and the fall of others. The Salon des Refusés was organized as a counter-exhibition to legitimize those works and artists which had been overlooked. Great artists such as Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, Gustave Courbet, and Édouard Manet participated in the exhibition.

While the results of the Delta Exhibition are not tied to the defining of Art as the Paris Salon was, the exhibition still stands as the leading juried show in Arkansas, thus setting the bar for aesthetic taste in the region. The Delta des Refusés strives to offer an alternative view of regional art, and like the Salon des Refusés, hopes to give legitimacy to artists who were not accepted into the Delta Exhibition. Led by artists and without a juror, the show embraces the ideas of freedom of exhibition and freedom of expression. It hopes to place the power of judgement in regards to taste into the hands of the public.


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