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Answering the Call February 14, 2006

Posted by kevino in art, promotion, Uncategorized.
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I went to a seminar put on by the Boston Photographic Resource Center.
Answering the Call (for entries):
A How-To Guide with Leslie Brown and Jim Dow
It was a fantastic, entertaining, overwhelming look at the inside process of jurying for art shows, galleries and grants.
Jim Dow was fantastic as he led the group of about 90 of us through the Jury process with a mock review of slides that he had assembled from recent shows he had visited. Leslie (the curator for the PRC) also added her experience and some details about the upcoming PRC member show.

He opened with a statement about how “The dialog that surrounds contemporary art is often more important that the work itself.” He then proceeded to trick us by showing us real artist’s statements paired with images. What a lot of “artspeak!” He then revealed that the images were actually vernaculer images (such as samples from a 19th century gravestone sales kit, and poodle garden sculptures.) He confessed to lifting the artist’s statements from a famous art school in Boston’s visiting artist section of their web site!

The point of all this was to really write what your photography means to you, because, if you make it through the anonymous portion of jurying, and they start reading statements, they said it all blends in to “nerf” unless it really rings true.

Lessons:

  • Jurors often have hundreds, if not thousands of images to get through. You don’t want to make it easy to eliminate you quickly. Some examples of big boo-boos: Bad slides, wildly unrelated images, subtle images that need perfect reproduction to be understood.
  • Understand the exact parameters of submission. How many projectors will they be using (in our trial, they showed 2 images side by side, which Jim often used to point out details of the syntax of the artwork that were important.) Use this information to present your work in the best light. If there is an obvious sequence to your submission, make sure you communicate this in accompanying materials.
  • Index sheet is highly helpful especially with digital submissions. This is also a good way to indicate sequencing/pairing, etc.
  • Many shows are now accepting digital submissions, but the process hasn’t adapted very well for it. For one, projectors may or may not be available, and if they are, rarely multiples. Jim showed very interesting examples of great photos, scanned from an 8×10 negative, that looked terrible and washed out when digitally projected. They looked great on his laptop screen, but much. much detail was lost in projection. Another important case of finding out how the work will be seen (passing around a laptop, projection, etc.) He said he’d seen Powerpoint used effectively, but that any hope of color management goes out the window. Tiffs on CDROM seemed to be the preferred format/media. (I think I’ll blog on how this could be fixed later….)
  • Don’t ever submit more than the standard number, even if it is allowed. Makes you look anxious….
  • The Freshest work comes to the top. Many shows now limit submissions to the last 2 or 3 years work. There ensued an interesting discusssion about old images being reworked, and “when is it finished. Generally, they concluded that when it is printed it is finished (or completed in the case of manipulated works) even if starting from decades old source material.

There was much, much more material, including a discussion of rate of production, and “What is a body of work?” that could probably be expanded to a whole semester of discussion and study.
If you ever get a chance to see Jim Dow speak, I highly recommend it. He was inspiring, humble, supportive and impressive. If this seminar is any indication of the PRC’s educational offerings, I’m looking forward to going to a lot more of them.

From the perspective of making a living as an artist (something I’m exploring) I don’t know how important these Juried shows are. It seems they are an important tool for building your resume, and thus part of your brand as an artist. I think there are other more direct ways that may have a more immediate impact on sales, but I think it’s probably worth the effort to pursue a few of these a year for both the exposure, and the resume building.

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