Entering Art Shows

Entering Art Shows

I have been showing my art for several years. I realize some of you are unfamiliar with that process, so I would like to share my insights.

I am always honored to be chosen for an art show. It's always good to get your artwork in front of people. But not every show is a success. I find there are shows, and then are SHOWS!

BLM at Sun King in Broad Ripple, 2021
BLM at Sun King in Broad Ripple, 2021

In successful shows, there is a strong consistency among the works on display. The artwork is different in style, presence, and meaning, but there is a sense of cohesiveness.

In other cases, there are shows where the artwork is inconsistent. When viewing an uneven show, I wonder what happened during the jurying process. It's difficult to put into words, but there is a sense of conflict during the jurying process. There are a lot of reasons for conflict during jurying, which I will soon discuss.

Let me mention that I have only officially juried one art show, which was with two other jurors. I found it challenging, but it helped me appreciate the process.

Me at the Harrison Art Center, Ginger opening, 2022
Me at the Harrison Art Center, Ginger opening, 2022

When I analyze the shows I have been accepted into, I understand jurying can be complex. Issues can be as simple as the jurors' diverse views of the show's theme. At its worst, the jurors are unable to compromise. Sometimes you have one juror, which can be a double-edged sword. If the single juror can see beyond their personal likes and dislikes in art, then the show has a good chance of being diverse and cohesive. The show's results can suffer if the juror cannot be objective.

It doesn't all lay at the jurors' feet. The artwork submitted may be too varied in quality. You may have a beautifully executed piece, yet it doesn't fit into the show's theme. Another issue is that a work may be selected to show that it is altered from the photo submitted for jurying. That usually is an automatic disqualification.

Jail Cell 1, showing in Valdosta State University in Georgia, 2022.
Jail Cell 1, (far left) showing in Valdosta State University in Georgia, 2022.

My history with being accepted into shows is that I get into one for every 3-to-4 shows I enter. I have learned never to take getting into or not getting into a show seriously. Being shown isn't crucial to the quality of my work. When I was a young artist, getting into shows felt like a validation of my art, but fortunately, life's experience has made me wiser.

Currently, entering a show is easy. The most significant expense is investing in a good digital camera and lighting. If you send in lousy photos, your likelihood of being accepted into a show is low!

Jail Cell 2, (far right), On The Streets-The Urban Experience. MVA Gallery, Bethlehem, PA. 2023

 Another aspect of entering shows in the digital era is that it is easier to research galleries and jurors. It's essential to show in galleries that tend to show styles for work similar to your work. For example, when looking at previous shows of a gallery, if I see a lot of traditional work emphasizing realism, I know that my work will not be a good fit. It is also true when researching the juror(s).

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