Exhibitions Don’t Just Happen

Cascade in the exhibition Unmasked.
Carapace in the exhibition Unmasked.

You know all those events I tell you about all the time? All of those group exhibitions that my work gets juried into? Do you ever wonder how that happens?

First I have to find out about them. I find calls for entry in a variety of places. SNAG has a bulletin board, I subscribe to a few list emails, I search around at different places that I’ve showed at before. Sometimes I find out via word of mouth or it’s through a group I belong to. Then there was that time I contacted a gallery about what their submission guidelines were and while I didn’t get that specifically, I was invited to their annual invitational exhibition. To top it off I found that gallery through a Facebook group. Rare indeed.

That's me standing by Cascade and the award winning Akimbo
That’s me standing by Cascade and the award winning Akimbo at JAM Gallery in Malvern, PA.

Second I have to figure out if my work is a fit for the exhibition guidelines. Some group exhibition have a theme, or they want a specific medium, or they are too far away or what ever and I’m not a good fit. Other times they want metal vessels and I’m all over it.

Third I need to send them what they want for the application. This is sooooooooo much easier now. For a while there some places wanted slides, some wanted cds (I still see that occasionally) and some would use ZAPP or JAS or some other online digital submission system. One even asked for photographs. PHOTOGRAPHS! Now it’s pretty much just digital, so I thank the technology gods for that. I still need to make sure that my images fit their particular system requirements.

Fourth – They want their money! That’s right, I have to pay a jury or entry fee for EVERY exhibition (and craft shows too) that I apply to. You only see the ones I get into to. I manage to get into about 40% of what I actually apply to. These fees range anywhere from $10 – 50 each – most in the $35-50 range. Sure adds up.

That piece in the background is a watercolor by Denny Bond. I just love his work!
That piece in the background is a watercolor by Denny Bond at last year’s Art of the State exhibition.

While we’re talking about money… Once I do get accepted, then my work needs to make it to the show. That means either shipping or driving fees (as in gas for me to drive it there.) It used to be that galleries would pay return shipping on what ever didn’t sell. These days I have to pay shipping both to and from the gallery 95% of the time.

All of this just to get my work out there to you! This is why we tell you about where our art is over and over again. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to get into these exhibitions, not to mention all the time it takes to actually make my art. That’s why I super appreciate it if you go out and see it and hopefully tell me how the show is in person. Next time you visit an exhibition, remember how hard those artists worked to get in. Then maybe write up your own review or say a few nice words to get other people to go out and see it too. We really appreciate it!

2 thoughts on “Exhibitions Don’t Just Happen

  1. So true. Marketing, finding venues can take more time that doing the actual work. I’m glad you shared this as it’s important for the public to know that goes into the cost of one’s work too.

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