|Art of the Call||
Newspace Center for Photography in Portland Oregon - Chris Bennett posted by Chris on Jan 23, 2013
Here's another Art of the Call video podcast where we ask directors, artists and curators to talk about the call for entry process.
Chris Bennett talks about:
Why calls for entry?
Our 1st one in 2005 was really fun bringing in a guest curator - it's great that it lets us work with fairly well known critics and curators in the art world to bring in a selection of artists from around the country and internationally
To see what is really going on out there in the world
Our 1st exhibition was called photography now, gave a great cross section of what people are doing
We are now in our 8th call and see the trends change
It's a great way to see a lot of work and promote photographers who are trying to break into the gallery scene
We've also seen a lot of people in our shows who've gone on to have more success at higher level in commercial galleries, publications, publishing books - it's nice to see that as well
Themes for a call
Seems to get harder and harder every year
We came into it with all these great ideas in mind but now we'll have a brainstorming meeting with all the employees here in town
Try to do something current and interesting that's not too broad but also focused enough to give us an interesting show
Calls do bring in a good source of revenue for us
Occasionally we'll have one of the local camera stores sponsor prizes
Beyond that if we're paying the judge a stipend we can usually cover that with the entry fee - we do try to keep it affordable - some of the calls out there get pretty expensive - we're really trying to keep it affordable so people aren't afraid to enter
We'd rather get more entries to choose from than make more money
Through the entry fee we are able to support all the time spent - it is a lot of work - going through all the entries and judging, putting the show together
If the call for entries were free then we would have to look into some type of sponsorship
Getting the word out
Through our email list
We use artshow.com, nyfa.com, callforentry.com
We'll make postcards, send them to colleges with art programs, put them in coffee shops, send them to other photoshops around the country
So between physical and virtual there are quite a few options
Keeping it fresh
If it's a themed exhibition, that will keep it fresh because it will speak to a more specific style of photographer
With the annual open call that we do you will see a lot of familiar names, but there's always people cycling in and out
Not just with the calls for entry but we have volunteers that help out with our front desk, answering phones, doing data entry, helping people set up in the dark room
Once it's time to start organizing paperwork for the calls for entry we have volunteers
They get a nice reward: trade for facilities usage, the get to set in on classes as well
We try to compensate the volunteers as much as we can
In the early days there were a lot more questions - now that calls for entry are so prevalent people are doing it more so they are used reading instructions
Everything is always in the directions/instructions but if someone doesn't understand how to do this many pixels, what DPI is we'll get emails and phone calls - it's usually pretty easy to handle.
For the initial prospectus, we try to put in bold 'please follow instructions carefully'
Once we select people for the exhibition, we send a contract and a very large type, clearly laid out instruction page on what we need them to do as far as preparing the image, image size, framing, shipping, pricing, image info, print type
That's the question we get the most when we ask for print type - what do you mean by print type? A silver gelatin darkroom print? Inkjet print? Is it a traditional chromogenic print? Stuff like that...
We want something that'll be large enough to view on the monitor where it's not going to get noisy or pixillated
We don't want large, unmanageable file sizes
Usually 1000px. 72DPI is a really good size unless they're somehow processing their image wrong it should look good when reviewing it
We want to make sure we get as close of a representation of what the final image will look like so we're not disappointed when something arrives and it looks like nothing what we saw.
While receiving entries, usually we'll go through and make sure everything is looking ok and if something is not loaded right or if it's just pixelated or soft we'll contact them and let them know.
We try not to select the same person twice
We don't want to select anyone who has just juried another call for entry in the last 6 months to a year
We're always trying to keep people fresh, new names in the mix - it's getting harder and harder with so many calls now - a lot of people are getting tapped to be judges
Through our networks, people that we know
Sometimes we'll reach out to people that we don't know
We do like to select people that we trust - we like what they do as far as curating
You want to select people that have a draw - that people want to get their work in front of
That's an important aspect of the juried exhibition - being a photographer - when I submit my work to call it's usually because I want to get my work in front of that person
Instructions for jurors
We tell them what kind of wallspace we have
Unless it's a themed exhibition then we'll talk with them about the idea behind the theme
For open calls, have at it, you can pick one image from 35 people, you can pick 2 images form 16 people or you could do just 3 or 4 from just a handful so we really leave it up to them and their process - in the 8 years that we've done it we've had pretty much every on of those scenarios happen
It's really up to the judge
Emerging vs professional
Whoever wants to submit can submit
It's great to have emerging photographers next to someone who might be a little more well known
We try not to look at names when we're judging - we want to judge based on imagery
For the juried exhibition we do a $500 cash prize and a solo exhibition so this show is a solo exhibition from last year's juried exhibition winner
Some have made the selection from the images they see on the website and some are able to come and make their selection in person
We've had a jar where people can submit a people's choice award - at the end of the month we'll present people with an award from a local camera shop or cash prize
Getting into the virtual, Facebook world, well, we'd rather keep it physical - come in here and look at the show, then you can make a choice
Experiencing the work in person is usually quite a bit different than seeing it on a screen, especially on a Facebook page where it's small, out of context - we feel people will have a different reaction when they come into a gallery space and experience it
Shipping and hanging
The artist is responsible for shipping both ways - unfortunately we would lose a lot of money if we had to pay for everyone's shipping - it gets pretty expensive
We do all of the install, unpack and save the materials and then repack and ship it back
It's challenging, it all comes to us and it's thrown on our plate - to come up with a good sequence - something that has a nice flow to it with so much work that can be so different
When we get the work unpacked, we'll set everything out around the gallery space
Sometimes we don't want something really tiny next to something really giant
There are walls where certain pieces look better
So we take our physical wall space into consideration first
We want a nice flow with the images
Between taking a show down and getting a show up it's 3 or 4 days - especially with the juried exhibitions because there's a lot of unpacking, each piece hangs differently
A celebration for the artist, all the hard work - bring their family and friends
Socialize, rub elbows
Have some beer, some wine, some snacks
It's celebration for all the hard work that the artists have done
If I'm going to an opening I don't really expect to take in the work because there's so many people, music, noise, hard to navigate
When I really want to see a show I go on a weekday when the gallery is empty
A show can be successful if it's printed and framed beautifully, hung really well, looks great in the space
Response from the viewer - you'll have people who come in and respond in a visceral manner
The way the work is presented does affect the interpretation of the art work.
I might walk into a show and think well this doesn't interest me at all but it's really well done - or conversely I can love the work and be like wow they didn't put any thought or effort into the printing, framing or hanging of the show - bringing all that together is very important and it can make or break a show or how an artitst's work is interpreted
Art of the Call.Chris Ritke asks the people behind art calls for entry and shows to talk about the whys, whats and hows.
Get in touch!You can contact Chris at hello at 49pm dot com or +1 415 670 9090. He'd love to hear from you!
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