Art of the Call

Springbox Gallery in Portland Oregon with Erin Leonard   posted by Chris on Feb 07, 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.

Putting out a call

For group shows we have a guest curator determine the theme - that person will come to us and pitch an idea, if it sounds good they will put out the call to different networks

In our market a lot of it is word of mouth and networking

For example our annual toy show, it's the artists' interpretation of toys as fine art - it can be anything from photography to sculpture

Usually something pretty loose


Usually pretty open ended, about a paragraph of what our vision of what it is

We have a guest curator with a vision of what they want to see, they don't necessarily state that on paper - they usually want it to be a little bit open so they see who is attracted to that type of call and what comes in.

Emerging vs professional artists

Our focus is primarily emerging artists - we have some well known regional artists but that's just from word of mouth - we also have some well known international artists but to be frank, they've come to us - we haven't put out that kind of call

The calls are usually for emerging artists and group shows

Entry fees

No entry fees, we just see it as part of the overhead, we earn our commission - there's a reason why what the commissions are, so we don't have a price for that, it's part of our job

Hanging the shows

We have the artists - if we have a guest curator then our expectation is that they're going to do the hanging

Sometimes they have artists bring in their work and do that

We always ask that it's up to the artists for delivery and returns - that is their responsibility and the cost of insurance

It's different from show to show, it's in the call what's expected.

Image quality

That's pretty loose, when we're going to use them for our web site or the show then that's where we say you need to have it look like this

It has been my experience I think artists really struggle getting decent images of their work - we don't know what we're looking at - for us it's quite telling what kind of image comes in what we can expect - when you are going to be in the show - it's kind of a test

It's not a test of the quality of the art - for example we have an artist who's taking images with his cell phone, but he sells a lot of art so we'll put up with that

If it's a cold call and you're sending in bad images we probably aren't going to pay attention to the art too much, we just don't have time

Getting the word out

We are just waking up to that, we started Facebook a couple years ago - also linkedIn, we have Constant Contact with the emails

Sending out local press releases, we really don;t have a lot of success with in our local hometown

We just woke up to the fact of the importance of art blogs out there - we're going to work with somebody to help promote our artists - to send out videos and a press release to different bloggers out there

With our last show, from a social networking perspective - we had wild success just from being mentioned in a couple of blogs and websites.
Through their blog they usually have a Facebook page and there'll be a link of some type

We can tell in our backend where we're getting these referrals

You can reach a prospective collector in France from Portland Oregon
6 years ago from the web site I never thought that people would buy online like they do - if they're familiar with the artist or gallery, we get a lot of visitors here - we sell more of our artwork to people that are visiting the city from LA/California because we're seen as a very affordable market - we are - so once they've come and know the quality of the artwork there's a trust there - I've been shocked what we've sold just over a photograph on the internet.


Here on Portland we're known for throwing a good party

We had to stop doing that recently just with the way the economy has been - the cost can be anywhere from $700-$1000 - just this last show started to sell beer and wine but it;s only $2 to $3 for a beer

For us it's a celebration - it's a lot of work, a lot of times it's a years worth of work

Our openings are more about celebrating

We used to not have a preview or sell work before the opening - we have changed that so once we put the work out or on the web site it is for sale.

We want the atmosphere for the opening so the artist is comfortable talking about their work, it's fun for them and they're participating

People for the most part like a story about the artist or the artwork - they like to know something about the process

Sometimes we'll have a 2nd opening which will be really relaxed - like a happy hour

We've had things on Sunday afternoons, if artists want to talk about their work - have a salon we're open to that

All those things help get the story and the work out.


People like to have sales

A gallery has to make money to pay for the overhead and everything else so of course we equate in sales
if it's getting talked about

If years later a client or somebody who has visited Portland comes back and talks about a particular show They talk about a particular piece of artwork as a friend and are sorry it's not there anymore - with all these terrible years that we've had, we're hoping that with good will, with people remembering that

Get someone interested in being a collector

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

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

Newspace Center for Photography in Portland Oregon - Chris Bennett

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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