Guest blogger Mickey Bond is a mixed media artist and curator of exhibitions and special events at Jay Etkin Gallery in Santa Fe and Memphis. She writes a blog about fun experiments in acrylic for all called “Try this at Home!”
As artists we all want our work seen, preferably in venues that show our pieces to advantage, can help build our resumes and enhance our careers. Indeed, there are many wonderful opportunities for artists listed online through websites such as “Artshow,” ”CaFE™ Call Listings,” and “Art Deadlines List.”
The sheer quantity and variety of these calls can be daunting. Worse, most specify stringent arbitrary rules in stilted hard-to-understand language. If you are new to online calls, it can feel like reading the personals without an abbreviation key from a newspaper, with strange colloquialisms and obscure rituals: “emerging artists only,” “no 3D,” “$500 First merit,” or “open call figurative group show.”
The language of art calls is stilted because curators, gallery owners, art center administrators and university professors are using specific forms to announce calls for work. These forms offer little flexibility or room for explanation so abbreviations are common and only basic information is given. If you read half a dozen calls for art from the sources listed above, you’ll soon recognize the format of their announcements.
Below is an explanation of a call for entries posted in “Artshow” by The Mitchell Gallery located at St. John’s College in Maryland. “LESS IS MORE: SMALL WORKS IN A GREAT SPACE” is typical of many calls. We’ll examine it in detail to identify and define components of art calls and learn how to avoid common disqualifying mistakes for entries.