Entering Art Shows

I have been showing my art for several years. I realize that some of you are not familiar 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 in a show in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis, 2021.

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

In other cases, there are shows that the artwork selected is inconsistent. When I am in an inconsistent show, I wonder why the juror chose my work. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel there was too much conflict during the jurying process when I see inconsistent shows. There are a lot of reasons for the conflict.

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 better.

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. If the juror cannot be objective, the show’s results can suffer.

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, but it has been altered from the photo submitted for jurying to when it arrives at the gallery. That usually is an automatic disqualification.

Jail Cell 1, showing in Valdosta State University in Georgia, 2022.

My history with being accepted into shows is 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!

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 prior 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).

1 thought on “Entering Art Shows”

  1. Interesting! I have images in my local Art Association but there is not much jurying to get them displayed! We have a show coming up where the judge is actually a fine art painter and I’m a photographer. Wondering just what sort of photographs he might like and whether that should affect what I am going to submit.

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