Thursday, December 09, 2010

juried vs curated or invitational shows

 Ever since I read Terry Jarrard-Dimond's post on juried shows, I've wanted to share my thoughts about the whole show thing. If you haven't read it, go do so and then come back here to join the conversation.
(I am finally blogging in daylight, so maybe I can actually think as I write - LOL)

I know people who absolutely refuse to enter juried shows because of the entry fees.  This goes for artists in other media, as well. When the non-fiber artists I know submit, it is usually to a well-regarded state or national show that will be showcased at a museum or an outstanding arts organization with good gallery space and a highly respected juror or jurors.  

While I enter juried shows, I have done it less and less - more from time constraints than irritation at the fees...although there is THAT if you are entering umpteen juried exhibitions a year.  Terry's point of being selective about entering is well taken, and I agree wholeheartedly with not just sending stuff off willy-nilly (does anybody use that phrase any more??) to every juried show.  Terry's list of things to consider before you submit is excellent and it's on her blog for reference. I have been a juror and can speak to those experiences (or probably have on some blog posts over the past few years).

Many excellent and established artists I know believe that juried shows are not necessarily any higher quality than curated or invitational shows - and I concur, based on shows I have both seen and been in.
This is a great way to get work out there that has been rejected from juried shows!

How Can You Participate in a Curated or Invitational Exhibition?

****Get your work out there on your website****!!!!!!!
 It's like the lottery - you don't play, you can't win.  Also, if there are what they used to call 'slide registries' (I guess they are jpg registries these days) - submit your work.  Gallery directors and curators look through those, too.  But I think today, websites work as registries in most cases.

***Join Local or Regional Arts Organizations that Sponsor Exhibits for their Members***
Local orgs may have their own gallery space or may use space at a local university or other gallery space.  There is almost always an annual open show for members and often, they will sponsor either curated or juried shows.

**Organize One and Submit Proposals**
If you belong to a small art critique group and have an idea for an exhibit (which needs a broad theme or title)  write a proposal and submit it to several galleries.  If it is accepted at more than one place, it can travel!

Have it curated by a group member or preferably, an outside curator.  My art crit group show is being curated by two of the members who looked at everybody's work and decided what would fit the title of the show.  It will be further curated when we hang the show.

I belong to several artists' groups where we submit proposals and if the proposal is accepted, we have a show. CAVEAT: make sure it is curated or it can be a disaster!!  Ask me how I know.

Talk to everybody: friends, relatives, strangers. If you don't have a card that says "artist" with a visual and your e-mail & website, at the very least, you need to get cards printed.You never know who knows who or where your info will go.

What's the difference between a curated show and an invitational show? Sometimes they are the same, and that is good. There are non-curated invitationals and curated invitationals.

A non-curated invitational will most often have a theme or will be for a specific medium.  The organizer has something specific in mind and will invite selected artists to participate and send a piece of his/her own choosing that relates to the theme of the show.  The invited artist may have a piece that fits or may choose to make one because he/she has been INVITED to do so.

Many artists love these invitationals because they love the challenge of making something for a theme -- it stretches them creatively, motivates them to get to work (especially if they've been in a slump) and it provides a focus.  All good things.

Normally I never make anything specifically for a themed show.  One exception was when I was invited some years ago to make a piece to raise money for breast cancer research. The invited artists had all been touched by cancer - either themselves, or had a relative/friend.  This was a mixed media show with a lot of good publicity in a well respected gallery and was going to travel, so I said "yes. While I had not had breast cancer, I could relate to the hair thing and even though this was 4 years later, it helped me process-- and I took a lighthearted approach to this far from lighthearted subject.

Otherwise, unless I have major time on my hands (unlikely)or have a piece that fits (almost as unlikely) I don't participate in themed invitationals ...or submit to themed juried shows.  I also rarely make a piece for a specific size restriction (unless it is 12x12). This leaves me out of a lot of SAQA shows.

Curated Invitationals

I was recently asked by a professional gallery director curating a show for Studio Montclair, a professional artists' organization to which I belong, to be in a printmaking show: Revealing the Layers.
She had found my work on my website and invited me to bring a pile to show her.

She selected the pieces she felt 1) worked with her theme and 2) related to each other.  She also said she would re-curate on site if she needed to for space considerations or work that didn't speak to her on the second round. 

Taking this approach to the five-person show, she created an outstanding exhibition of five artists' work. Because this curator has a wonderful eye,her shows have always been top-notch in both content and presentation.  

Incidentally, all my selected work except two pieces had been rejected from juried fiber shows.
This is the benefit of curated shows - but your work needs to be on your website - "out there."

I belong to a critique group that submitted a proposal for a group show to a gallery. They accepted our proposal and two of the members are curating the show.  They have looked at all of our art and requested specific pieces.  

Finally, I am most surprised to have been invited to participate in a mixed media exhibition at the Alexy von Schlippe Gallery of Art in Groton, CT.  It is a multi media show and the director went to my website because a friend of mine knew she was putting together a show and told her to look at my work.  She loved it and asked whether I was interested in participating (ha!).  She asked for 3 jpgs; I sent five.  She wants them all. 

Three of the pieces have been rejected from major national juried shows: she asked for good jpgs of two of them so she could decide which one to put on the show's invitation.

'Nuff said. What has been YOUR experience and how do you feel about juried vs invitational/curated shows??  let's talk!!


    Victoria Findlay Wolfe said...

    one never knows what the curator are really looking for when they do a juried show... I agree, 100% that you need to get your work out there to be seen...
    sometimes I feel it is a crap shoot.. you just need a little bit of luck... and it's a lot of who you know... I am slowly starting to submit things... but I do get overwhelmed by all the fees, rules etc etc which holds me back..

    AND I know a very fabulous 4 panel quilt that needs to be shown and exhibited... any takers? hello? (wink wink)

    great post Rayna... love your stuff, and terry's too, I saw that post...

    Debra Dixon said...

    I just had a quilt rejected for a national show but that same quilt was chosen for an upcoming book on the subject. So, I think it is all so subjective that it is almost impossible to figure out.

    Unknown said...

    Lately, I have prepared two exhibition proposals to juried shows (group exhibition to fill three slots in the gallery schedule from a local Arts organization). Each of them required quite a bit of organization, gathering of images, and thought in the presentation. Each of them required $35.00 in application fee. What annoys me the most about this is that the decision making process was supposed to have been completed Nov. 8 (the application had to be in on Sept. 7) and I have yet to hear a yea or a nay. I feel that if I took the time to put together a professional application, the least I could expect would be the courtesy of a reply.

    This makes me really sit back and think about what I'm doing and where I'm applying.

    Rayna said...

    Lisa, I have never heard of paying a fee to submit a proposal. And rude is an understatement, from what you indicate. Sounds fishy.

    Cate Rose said...

    Great post, Rayna, thanks. Most of the (few) shows that I've juried into with my art quilts weren't quilt shows. I don't like all the rules and regs of the latter, either, not to mention the increasingly high fees (and then the shipping costs to and from, etc.).

    I just sold a quilt at a resist-themed show in PA. Although I'm relatively new to the whole thing, I'm feeling like the quilt-specific shows really aren't the places for people who don't like to follow rules or conform to any of the prevailing styles.

    Del said...

    Hear! Hear! GREAT post, Rayna.
    I hope many readers will take it to heart - especially the part about putting their work online, preferably on their own website so that curators and others arranging exhibits can see what they do. It is also a great way to have your work seen by collectors around the world. Thanks for your voice.

    teri said...

    I love the cookies on your blog!! I'm a Jersey girl myself - nice to see someone else from my home state. Thanks for stopping by. teri

    Mary Beth Frezon said...

    Great post and timely. I'm trying to decide what to do with myself for the next few years and along those lines consider some shows as marketing tools. But the exhibits I want to be in are tougher. I tend to work larger than many exhibits allow. At least that makes the decision-making easy.

    You've given me quite the bone to chew on and I'm thankful.

    Vivika said...

    Hi Rayna,

    Well thought out and well said... I'm glad to know others with the same mindset!

    Libby Fife said...

    This is a great post so thank you. I have done much of what you suggested but have not submitted any proposals anywhere. Oh, except to Quilting Arts Magazine. They rejected my idea which I thought was a good one so I don't know what was really wrong there.

    I have also had issues with submitting to the wrong shows (ha ha, couldn't be my work right?) for my chosen medium. Where do you fit in if you paint your images on fabric rather than canvas?

    Lastly, Terry's post was very helpful in providing some guidelines to consider. Above all, I think a person needs to keep at it-keep re configuring what you do. Keep thinking about it, trying things, turn ideas over in your mind, and see what other people are doing that is working.

    Cindy Cooksey said...

    Excellent suggestions, Rayna. I agree, it's a good idea to try a number of ways to get one's work out there. Juried shows are not the only way, for sure.

    Unknown said...

    wowow, great info. I used to run juried photography shows and often times after a lunch that included wine the judges would change their minds about some of the entries. Don't take anything personally when a piece is rejected; it could be for absolutely no reason.

    Julaine said...

    Excellent thoughts on this!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful read - so much inspiration to all of us out there...We can say "I am an artist" and people will listen!

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