Part of being an artist is having one’s work seen and talked about, which is why it’s so important for many to enter different shows and see what people think about how they stack up against others.
While some shows are open for everyone, others take only work that follow a specific theme or work chosen by a juror or those running the show. Take the McLean Project for the Arts’ Strictly Painting 10 show, which is a biannual event held each summer. All mid-Atlantic artists are invited to submit their images to MPA through a Call for Entries procedure.
Although the show will be over by the time this issue of VivaTysons goes to press, we wanted to present our readers with an understanding of how the whole process works.
Nancy Sausser, exhibitions director for the McLean Project for the Arts, explains that the show is a juried show so there are restrictions about entering and what artists are shown.
“The way it works is each year we publicize that we’re going to have a juror, and we’re going to do this show and here’s the theme. We send it out to the arts community and various blogs and publications and Facebook and everything we can think of,” Sausser says. “We put out a call for entries last winter with the deadline of April 17. Folks were allowed to submit up to four images and also submitted information about themselves and their work.”
In the past, artists would mail in photos of their work on disks but now it’s simply done through the Internet and a special on-line service. For the Strictly Painting 10 show, 190 artists sent in work, and each was allowed to enter four items, so there were almost 800 pieces in all to consider.
“The title is a little misleading because that’s always been the traditional name but this is a show that is well known in the art community and artists wait for it, because they know there will be a good juror,” Sausser says. “We have expanded the theme over the years to include work that has something to do with painting in a less traditional sense. It could be work conceptually about painting or photography work that works with color in a painterly fashion.”
This helps create a more diverse show in terms of approaches and artists who are working within painting or around painting some how.
In this case, Vesela Sretenović, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Phillips Collection Downtown, served as juror and made all the pertinent decisions.
“For our juror, we try to choose someone from the arts community, often someone from the museum world who is a well-respected curator or possibly someone who is an art gallery owner or dealer,” Sausser says. “We want someone who artists are going to want have them see their work. I’ve been trying to get her for two years. The Phillips Collection is a jewel of a museum and they engage local artists a lot. To have the curator is a wonderful thing. She’s great.”
Sretenović had to look at each and every work and decide how many to put up for the show. She chose 38 artists and multiple works by some, which will give the show more depth.
Artists competing in the show this year are Lina Alattar, Nathaniel Amour, Sondra Arkin, Dorothy Bonica, Greg Braun, Anthony Brock, Shante Bullock, Tory Cowles, Jereny Flick, Eric Garner, Jane Godfrey, John Grunwell, Josephine Haden, Jay Hendrick, William Hill, Lillian Hoover, Jackie Hoysted, Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi, Sanzi Kermes, JT Kirkland, Chee-Keong Kung, Nolan Leslie, Corwin Levi, Megan Maher, Anne Marchand, Lindsay McCulloch, Lillianne Milgrom, Greg Minah, Georgia Nassikas, Maryann Pollock, Marie Ringwald, Jean Sausele-Knodt, Mary Gallagher Stout, Diane Szczepaniak, Silvie van Helden, Richard Paul Weiblinger, Michael Weiss and Alice Whealin.
“The pieces really run the gamut in terms of styles and ideas and I think it will be a real interesting show,” Sausser says. “Sretenović has a few weeks to look at all the images and put the show together and then she gives me names and I notify the artists and they will bring us their work and we have about a week to put the show up and create a show that is interesting and cohesive. There’s always a way to do that.”
Sausser admits that sometimes, that’s challenging, because with so many different artists there’s a lot of breadth in the type of work you are dealing with but thanks to a very flexible space, she and her team are able to make an interesting and coherent show. Once the show is up, Sretenović will spend a week looking at the pieces.
“We’ll have a reception on June 30 with our juror and she will talk about what she was thinking about and what the process was like,” Sausser says. “Awards will be given out and she has a certain amount of award money that she can dole out anyway she wants. It can be one big prize or top three or even 10 honorable mentions. She will also write a short essay about the show.”
And that’s the way it works.