10.08.2012

Marketing Mondays: Exhibition Options. A Recap

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Here’s a question asked by several

artists recentlyHow, exactly, does one

curate a show in which the work .

has been juried by someone else?
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Just when I think I'm running out of topics for Marketing Mondays, along comes another one. One could certainly organize a show that has been juried by another—there’s a ton of work before and after the juror steps in to make selections—but curating implies that someone had a concept, researched artists and their work, made studio visits, and then selected particular works to offer a visual narrative or considered view of a particular theme. 
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I’ve written before about the various types of exhibitions (juried here and here, invitational, curated) but let me offer a recap.
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Curated
We start with a quick definition from Wikipedia: In contemporary art, the title curator is given to a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator often is responsible for writing labels, catalog essays, and other supporting content for the exhibition. Such curators may be permanent staff members, be "guest curators" from an affiliated organization or university, or be "freelance curators" working on a consultant basis.
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At a museum you expect a curated show—that’s what the exhibition curators do. (Other curators manage and care for the permanent collection; some do both.) In a small museum with one curator, the credit may be understood, but in a larger venue, where there are many curators, the particular exhibition curator is acknowledged.
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Art dealers curate all the time: gallery exhibitions, their booths at art fairs, perhaps even a collection for a particular client. It’s unusual for an art dealer to claim the title of curator, but in a venue with many employees, credit for curating a particular show may be given when a person curates who does not usually do that job.
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Typically there is no entry fee for a curated show because there is no submission. Artists are selected via curatorial research. Museums and large commercial and academic galleries typically arrange for pick up and return of work, the costs of which they cover. Galleries should at least split the cost (you pay to ship, they pay to return) but that's not always the case, as many small galleries continue to struggle. With a pop-up or DIY exhibition, artists may be expected to share the costs. Though results are not guaranteed, an ambitious curator might seek grant funding to cover all or part of the costs of a DIY show, or an individual artist could look for professional advancement grants to help defray her/his share of the expenses.
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Invitational
An invitational is an interesting way to spin what a dealer does when she’s curating or organizing a group show that includes artists in addition to the ones she represents. In a small museum or academic gallery, an invitational may be an essential aspect of community outreach, acknowledging local or regional artists.
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Invitationals are not typically juried, the idea being that the artist is asked to participate, not required to submit work. So again, there's not usually an entry fee. Shipping terms vary from venue to venue.
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Organized
This term suggests several possibilities: the effort of a person who has the concept and does the work but leaves the selection up to another—a juror, for instance; or who invites the artists but leaves the selection up to them. It might also suggest a group effort in which no one person makes all the curatorial decisions but everyone works hard to create a successful exhibition. There’s a lot of work involved in putting on an exhibition, and organized by is a good term to acknowledge it.

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There is not typically an entry fee associated with an organized show because, again, the artists are invited as a result of the organizer's research—however if it's a DIY project, artists may be expected to share the expenses of mounting the show.
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Juried
The juried show is typically the domain of a non-profit institution or
co-op gallery, where community is fostered by bringing artists together. A juror, usually invited and modestly paid, selects from a pool of submissions. She creates a show from the best of what comes in. Of course there’s curation involved in the process, but even with a thematic show, a juror is assembling a show from work she might not have selected on her own and, this is important, selecting work that she has likely seen only in digital reproduction. The venue personnel, whether gallery director or assistants, are the likely installers, unless the venue is large enough to be abe to hire someone specifically for the job. A juror might have ideas for placement but is not typically involved in the installation. 
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For artists the juried show is a crapshoot—you might find yourself surrounded by fabulous work, or be so embarrassed that you don't even list in on your resume—but early in a career it can be a lifeline out of the studio and into a broader discourse. And in special situations it can be a great way to show with professional peers.
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Juried shows often require entry fees for the artists. If you're going to plunk down $30 to even $50, make sure the project is worthwhile. Who's the organizer? Who's the juror? Where's the venue? What's the history of the show or organization? Is there a sophisticated audience for the show? Will there be a catalog or essay? Has it been advertised? Are there prizes or perks?
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Crediting the effort
Credit the curator. Credit the organizer. Forget what grad school professors tell you about not acknowledging the curator. It's professional and respectful to credit those who select your work for a show. Identify them on your resume and in all promotional material.
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Do you credit the jurors? On a resume, not necessarily—especially if your exhibition history is already full of juried shows. But who wouldn't want to acknowledge the museum curator or gallery directory who chose your work?  Certainly note their involvement on your promotional materials. You should expect the exhibition organizers to note them prominently on the postcard and all promotional materials as well.
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Comments?
As always, there are plenty of blurry lines and gray areas. Your comments are welcome.
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very useful information. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell are you to make these pronouncements?

Joanne Mattera said...

Anon #1: Thank you for your kind words.

Anon #2: Thank you for the opportunity to remind you and my readers that I am one person with one point of view. I have logged some years as an exhibiting artist,and I've worked with a number of dealers and curators. Along the way I've listened and observed, and I've asked a lot of questions.

By the way, had you rephrased your question--something like "How have you come to your particular point of view?" Or, "What compels you to take on the role of adviser?"--your query would not have been confrontational and you could have contributed more fully to this discussion using using your own name.

Anonymous said...

Your Marketing Mondays are full of great information! I am an artist who is working to try and make the switch from online sales, to getting into brick and mortar galleries. I stumbled upon your blog while searching the internet and was happy to find it. Would you have any tips or information for a former ebay artist powerseller, on how to best do this? I have sold hundreds of paintings there, but would be afraid to mention it to any potential galleries, as I know it could be a big negative.

Tina Mammoser said...

As a curator of an annual juried show I thought I'd chime in with one of those blurry lines.

Yes, it's definitely a different level of job and yes "curating" does usually mean a selection process from the start.

I'm given about 100 images (photography) and then attempt to create a hang that does give a sense of flow and narrative to the selections. I try to use thematic groupings and visual flow from one set of work (or wall) to the next. :) I have complete control over the hang, and can even not hang shortlisted artworks if need be. (though we agree to try and opt for artists with multiple pieces accepted if it's simply a space issue, so everyone is still shown)

It certainly isn't curating in the full sense (which I've also done), but it takes me far longer than the jury took to select. :) What do you think?

Joanne Mattera said...

Tina,
There are all kinds of ways to jury and curate. But it seems to me that what you are doing is installing. I mean no disrespect and do not wish to belittle the effort you take with the work to create a narrative and flow--that can be a huge job--but curating implies that you had a concept and selected work to give physical form to your idea. I did something similar to a show I juried a couple of summer ago, but I was by no means a curator.

I'm curious: How are you and the juror identified on the announcement card and in the promotional materials for the show? Are you both identified equally?

Anon 9:20,
Your question will become a MM post on its own. Stay tuned. And I hope when it's posted, probably in November, that you will comment on your experience.

Wayson said...


Thanks for another great MM post. The phrase "early in a career, it can be a lifeline...into a broader discourse" was especially resonant for me; it describes my situation well.

Regarding inclusion of juror names, my rationale has been that if a well-regarded artist acts as juror and accepts my work, that can serve as a sort of vetting of the work's quality. So far, I've been fortunate to be in the situation of being surrounded by some pretty awesome work. I'd be interested in hearing about the possible negative aspects of including juror names.

Joanne Mattera said...

Wayson,
I think it's fine to note the juror's names on your resume. The only negative is if one's entire resume is comprised of juried exhibitions, the message to anyone viewing is that the artist is not moving beyond the "submission" phase of her/his career. You want to demonstrate that you're being invited to show, that your work is selected by dealers and curators for inclusion. A lot of this happens naturally as your career progresses, in part because of the visibility of juried shows. (But don't overlook DIY opportunities, or the kind of networking that leads to exhibition opportunities.

Tina Mammoser said...

Ah, that's a good view of it. I appreciate your comments. For what it's worth, neither the curators or the jurors are named on the invitational materials - just the organisation running the show, the charity for that year, and the sponsors. The jurors are profiled in the catalogue.

But I will mention to the organisers to consider putting the jurors on the invitation. It's a good idea!