|Art of the Call||
Los Angeles Center for Digital Art with Director Rex Bruce posted by Chris on Jan 20, 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.
In this video, Rex talks about:
Planning a call
Make sure that you set yourself apart, that you have a clear direction with the type of art that you're dealing with - in our case it's art and technology or digital art, it encompasses digital photography as well
The people who are participating need to know what they're getting involved in.
Can't be so wide that there can't be a grasp of the concept of what you're doing
Having jurors that have some expertise of the area of focus
We cold called museums. We went through all the museum sites in LA, got all the email addresses I could and emailed everybody - the people that worked in all the various aspects of the museums - saying we're looking for people
We had already used some very high level people so we had a history of using people with very high quality so it wasn't difficult to perk the interest of other museum curators or high level critics and them them to work with us
The juror is very important - you want to find somebody who has an understanding of what it is you're looking for.
Not every curator is so keen on art and technology. If you get a photography curator they might be a bit narrow, they're always going for the photography - so we have to make sure we're including the best of everything within the genre. So we need somebody that is focused enough on what you're doing - to understand what it is that you're looking for but also open minded enough that they're willing to choose a variety of works from the entries you've got.
There's an enormous difference between jurying an exhibit that's geared towards art and technology and jurying for all the other kinds of traditional media
You need to have jurors that understand the medium
What are the different forms within that genre that can shoot for excellence
It's not just mimicking digit version of a painting - might not be something we're not so interested in - we're looking for things where new kinds of ideas, new kinds of forms can emerge from that technology. So you want somebody that understands that, you want somebody that's open minded about that - there's a lot of curators that are not so keen on that style, you really can't work with them at all
We've worked with photography curators because digital photography is something that we support
There was a time when people working with digital photography and using digital printers could not get shown because it was a little crude for a while - now of course it has entirely taken over - I don't even know where you can get a large analog print any more
Because of that history we do support digital photography, it's part of our programming - so we do work with photography curators - you want to make sure that you have one that does not lean too much towards the photographic work and is open to a variety of stuff that you will find within the genre of art and technology that includes photography.
Brick and mortar vs web
When you present work in a white box gallery like this a large venue as opposed to the web, you have an entirely different experience.
Here, tonight we're having a reception and art walk, the art walk draws up to 20,000 people. We'll have thousands of people through the gallery. People are intermingling, people are actually getting the full sensory experience of looking at the art at its full scale with the entire detail that's in the artwork.
Also interacting with people, the whole chatter and excitement of the crowd, the ability to pitch the work to people are interested in buying it, that are here physically
When you have work on the web, people are sitting at their home or office at their computer, often in an isolated sort of way, wiggling around their mouse, doing this clawing iteration, looking at images that are small - how much of an experience can you have with that?
If you're looking at an image of the Sistine Chapel on the internet or you're in the Sistine Chapel looking at it - the difference is huge.
Receptions vs regular gallery hours
Receptions in the art world are everything - that's when you're going to get almost all of the people that are going to view the art. Since you've been here 20 people have been to the gallery, we have a lot of foot traffic
A lot of what we do during the hours is we're making arrangements, creating work, creating meetings with critics, getting them down here to look, getting reviews going, connecting with buyers, making appointments with the people that bought art, come down pick it up etc.
During gallery hours there are a lot of things going on that are not a huge crowd of people viewing the work
The reception is incredibly important because that's really when the work is going to get seen, that's when the big buzz starts to happen, the big charge happens - without that you have just as good as nothing.
When we first entered into the realm of doing juried competitions with entry fees I looked at a lot of other sites (at that time people actually had flyers, pre web stuff) - looked at their prices - and what we tried to do is make it less, whatever the average was, we chopped 20% off that
We want things to be affordable - the 1st one we did was in the spring of 2004 and we have not raised it since then
That has helped us, whether it's the difficult economy - and people do appreciate that we do that
I'm not sure that everyone understands that - we try to make it clear in our call - that the entry fees support the gallery programs
It's general knowledge in the art industry - for commercial galleries - that even in the best of circumstances the best people have difficulty selling art - Larry Gagosian can throw a show of whoever, you know, Jeff Koons - and kind of do not very good, somehow. Go figure, somebody who's the top selling, most famous people around...
If you're an emerging gallery, emerging talent, like downtown LA is a more do it yourself environment - it's sort of like the Brooklyn of Los Angeles or whatever, this isn't the west side, you know where all the money is - you know, Beverly Hills - everybody knows what that is, Santa Monica and so on, Culver city is more like that where the galleries are more commercially oriented - even then, people open a show, it's very difficult to maintain that
The entry fees keep the gallery going, that's how we stay open - we've been thriving and successful since then - we've moved into a space that was once occupied by a good friend who decided to move to Chicago and open his gallery there to be with his current partner, but he was struggling...
You want to be clear about each different aspect of what's going on
Obvious things like the deadline, the run dates for the show, what's the criteria for the art that's acceptable
You want to keep it simple, if it's too elaborate, if you're making like you're entering into a mortgage agreement on a house nobody's going to want to do it
There's limits on how technical you want to get
Sometimes I've looked at some calls and it almost comes off as punitive or negative - you don't want to make it a punishing experience for the artists - you want to make it a positive experience
I try to stay away from too many rules and restrictions
We don't mind if things are a little late or if you get something wrong we give them a chance to correct it
We're easy on the artists and try to accommodate their needs
Tips for artists
It's a fine balance between drawing attention to yourself in a professional kind of way and not being annoying
In the art world the squeaky wheel gets the grease - it's the people who are around, who the gallerists become familiar with
People who are curators are much more accessible than say in the music industry - a gallerist is always at the gallery - you can walk in anytime you want and meet them. And now you can also email them.
If you're making yourself familiar to the gallerist with your work, they're getting your announcements about other things that you're doing, if you live in the area you befriend the gallerist without taking up too much of their time or doing too much - you don't want to be the timewaster - be very ginger about it, but make sure that you're somehow drawing attention to what you're doing, over and above what might be just entering the show
I've had people send me their portfolios, these beautiful presentations, like a week before we're selecting the artists and I look at it and go oh my God, you know... at least that way when we're looking at it we may or may not select this person - of course we're being fair when we're judging these things - but I most certainly know who they are and I'm familiar with what they're doing
Reviewing images of art that have been digitized can be a bit of a conundrum - when you're dealing with traditional media you lose detail - especially if there's relief in a painting you can't really get it if it's small
It's not so bad in the digital realm because the art is digital to begin with but we're not dealing with the same resolution, so if there's really a lot of detail - one way around that: you can always put in a detail
For your $30 entry fee, if nothing else, you are getting this person to get a look at your work - that itself is worth $30 - they saw your name, they see what you're doing
I'm very familiar with thousands of artists and what they're doing - everybody gets seen by the curators that are jurying the show - so you have to do a good just of getting that to happen
What is great about an open call is expressed by that word ?Open?.
When you are trying to get your work in front of people who can get you exhibited - we have a huge audience at this gallery - or get your work shown to a museum curator, how the heck are you supposed to manage that?
When we do an open call, anyone has an opportunity to be seen by people who might otherwise be difficult to access.
As you're entering these shows and merging into the whole scene of the selection process of artists being chosen to exhibit in groups or solo, this is a great way to hang your sign out
It's a gunshot approach, you might want to fine tune to to places that are more likely to accept your work just by taking a look at the kind of exhibits they've had before
It's a great opportunity to merge in, people see your name
I've had people enter 3 or 4 times, then they get 2nd place and then boom, they get the solo exhibit
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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