January 15, 2008 | Alyson Stanfield

Speaking of juried art exhibits . . . where are they in the artworld hierarchy?

On my list of questions to ask before entering a juried exhibition, I said you should ask yourself: “Have I outgrown this exhibit? Am I better established than most of the other artists who will enter?”

Questions like these should be answered in conjunction with your long-term goals. Don't stick around anywhere too long. Don't get too comfortable with what is safe and easy, but know when it's time to move on to bigger challenges and opportunities.

Some time ago, I came up with my version of the art world hierarchy of venues. (Note it's not the types of exhibitions, but of venues where you show your art.) Embrace this list, ignore it, or make up your own.

Mine goes something like this:

Large-City Museums
Large-City Galleries
Non-Profit Spaces & Art Centers
Art Festivals
and Everything Else >>>

Coffee Shops & Restaurants
Libraries & Churches
Corporate Spaces
Retail Stores
Niche Markets
Open Studios & Private Homes

This is extremely generalized and each gallery, museum, or venue should be judged on its own merit.

For instance, I have libraries under “Everything Else” near the bottom of the list. But the Boulder Public Library in nearby Boulder, Colorado, has an amazing exhibit space and they show top-of-the-line
artwork in the Canyon Gallery. I'd put it in an upper-tier space.

10 comments add a comment
  • The Professional Guidelines have several documents that will help artists and craftspersons navigate the juried arena. The documents include: Artist Checklist: Exhibitions Juried Exhibitions Top Ten Tips for Getting Into a Juried Show, Exhibition, Book and Magazine. The Professional Guidelines can be found at: http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/.docs/pg/10025

  • Alyson B. Stanfield

    Harriete is right. The resources she listed is excellent. Everyone should check them out!

  • Shea

    You give good advice. I wish that I had advice like you give many moons ago. It’s not too late, but it’s twilight.

  • I think another question in amongst all these questions is: where do *I* want to be in the hierarchy as an artist? Do I want international acclaim and hundred thousand dollar sales? or do I want to live comfortably (whatever your definition) pursuing my passion? or do I just want to do something that I like a lot and get it out there every now and then? There are tradeoffs, perqs and downsides for all ends of the spectrum – and I think it’s really important to know what we want, because we all don’t want the same thing, so the coffee shop around the corner that sells $200/month for you may be just the ticket or not.

  • One question I’ve always asked myself is: “Does this competition allow an unlimited number of slides, as long as you pay the per slide entry fee?” It seems to me that the more slides/money you send in, the more consideration they’ll give to your slides, and the more likely you’ll be accepted (however, I don’t know if this is indeed true). It’s always seemed a suspicious practice, and doesn’t really give each artist an equal opportunity. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, Alyson.

  • Where would you put University sponsored shows on your list? I think as a rule they get very little exposure, but do you think they are considered prestigous?

  • Alyson B. Stanfield

    Casey: It depends on the university and their venue. Some universities have exhibits in their main hall, which is not so great. On the other hand, many universities have stellar spaces. I used to work at one of them myself and it’s only gotten grander since I left (no, the two incidents are not related!). A well-done exhibit will garner attention regardless of where it is. Diane: I’m afraid I don’t know much about that. I honestly have never heard of unlimited slide submissions. Perhaps someone else here can help you with that. I can’t imagine why any venue would allow that other than to make them more money. It just creates a ton of extra work for them.

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