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,,

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

Entrant support

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...

Image requirements

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

There's more!

Lori Zimmer, writer, curator and art consultant in Brooklyn, New York

Jenn Dierdorf, Soho20 Gallery in New York, New York

Lisa Scails, Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut in Danbury Connecticut

Abbie Kundishora, Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven Connecticut

Is there democracy in art? We asked 30 artists, directors and curators across the country.

Kim Holleman, Artist in Brooklyn, New York

John Aasp, Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport Texas

Seth Boonchai, New Orleans Photo Alliance in New Orleans, Louisiana

Matthew Weldon Showman, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana

Jason Andreasen, Baton Rouge Gallery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Judi Betts, Artist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Doreen Ravenscroft, Waco Cultural Arts Fest in Waco Texas

Eleanor Owen Kerr, Photographer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Matt Werner, Arizona Artists Guild in Phoenix, Arizona

China Adams, Artist in Los Angeles, California

Jeff Alu and Stephen Anderson, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) in Santa Ana, California

Steve Lopez, ArtZone 461 in San Francisco, California

Catharine Clark, Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, California

Ted Gall, Sculptor in Ojai, California

Daniel Stauber, The Crucible in Oakland, California

Karen Gutfreund and Priscilla Otani, Women's Caucus for Art

Randall Hodges, Nature Photographer in Lake Stevens Washington

Arts of the Terrace in Mountlake Terrace Washington with Judy Ryan

Marrilee Moore, Glass Artist in Everett Washington

Schack Art Center in Everett Washington with Maren Oates

Recology Artist in Residence Program in San Francisco California with Deborah Munk

Eastside Association of Fine Arts in Bellevue Washington with Charlette Haugen

Springbox Gallery in Portland Oregon with Erin Leonard

Edmonds Arts Festival in Edmonds Washington with Patti Sullivan, Dawn McLellan and JB Halverson

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art with Director Rex Bruce

Nan Curtis, Artist in Portland Oregon

Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts - Sally Hedman

Sandra Banister, Photographer in Portland Oregon

Mat Gleason Curator, Art Critic and owner of Coagula Curatorial art gallery in Los Angeles

Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, California

Roseville Arts Blue Line Gallery with Kathleen Mazei

Onyx Fine Arts Collective, Seattle Washington

Doña Ana Arts Council: Renaissance Artsfaire and Las Cruces Arts Fair

Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MarinMOCA)

Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Rockport, Maine

Ground Arts and Rogue Space | Chelsea

Orange County Center for Contemporary Art

NextByDesign: Occupy: What's Next? call for posters


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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