open call
A scene from YAI's prior Design and its Dimensions exhibit. Photo courtesy of Javier Sanchez.
Art Sales

Four Artist Open Calls to Apply to This Summer

Landing gallery representation is high on the agenda for many artists, who seek to find the right art world partners to get their work shown and into the hands of major collectors. But finding that gallery representation is notoriously elusive – many gallerists often quip that they rarely look at email submissions, and walk-ins are generally frowned upon and considered poor taste by many working gallery owners. Considering such a high barrier of entry, how can emerging artists get their work in front of gallerists in an effort to forge a relationship?

Applying to an open call might just be the ticket. Typically, an open call for artists signals that a gallery or arts institution is looking for new and engaging work by up-and-coming artists. While many open call inquiries don’t offer any sort of perpetual gallery representation, they do present an opportunity for an artist’s work to be viewed by gallerists, potential collectors, and art connoisseurs alike. Thus, applying to an open call would be an excellent marketing opportunity for emerging artists looking to get their foot in the door with a new audience.

Fortunately, there are plenty of open call opportunities to get your work seen this summer, and Artrepreneur has rounded up a list of the most worthy artist open call opportunities with upcoming deadlines. Read on for open call submission guidelines, along with insider knowledge on what open call curators are looking to exhibit.

Open Call Season: Four Institutions Looking for Talent

Open Call: Young Artist’s Initiative “Design and its Dimensions”

Founded by George Dufournier in 2015, Young Artist Initiative was designed to empower emerging artists by offering them a variety of opportunities to exhibit their work. Hosting roughly two to three site-specific group exhibitions per year, Dufournier and curator Tam Gryn rely exclusively on their artist open call to find work for each event. ‘We tend to welcome about 40 participating artists across a variety of mediums, including photography and performing artists,” says Dufournier. “We select our artists based on who best aligns with the thesis, rather than focusing on any one type of medium or work.”

For its “Design and Its Dimensions” exhibition, held from October 28-30 at the Moore Building in the Miami Design District, YAI is searching for domestic and international artists that can respond to the building’s unique design – Built in the 1920s, The Moore Building was retrofitted with an exceptional Zaha Hadid installation, “Elastika,” which has become an iconic element of the structure.

“We’ll segment the exhibition based on dimensionality,” says Dufournier. “The ground floor works will be two dimensional, the second floor will feature three-dimensional works, the third floor will explore the fourth dimension, which is time, and the fourth floor will explore the fifth dimension, behavior. Each dimension will develop as you move upwards through the space,” Dufournier says.

YAI is currently accepting open call submissions from around the world, and the deadline to apply is August 14. To apply, artists should first peruse the invitation, and submit their proposal for a particular dimension in a concise paragraph, and include the medium, materials to be used, measurements, renderings, and sketches. Artists are also encouraged to include any accompanying images of their work that best illustrate their thesis. Chosen artists will count with a small stipend to assist with setup costs. Submissions can be made to [email protected].

artist open call
Zaha Hadid’s “Elastika” serves as the architectural backdrop of YAI’s “Design and its Dimensions” exhibition. Photo courtesy of Javier Sanchez.

Open Call: “A Show of Heads” at Slow Art Productions

Based in New York, Slow Art Productions is currently hosting an open call for its annual exhibition, “A Show of Heads,” which welcomes national and international artists to submit their own interpretations and portrayals of the human head. Open to artists working in any media, selected artists will have their work exhibited at the Limner Gallery in Hudson, NY, from October 18-November 11, 2017. As part of an artist’s participation in the show, they must consent to the work being for sale, and the gallery reserves a 35 percent commission fee for any works sold. While it may seem like a hefty price to pay, it’s an opportunity for artists who have yet to sell their work to cultivate a new collecting audience and potential gallery relationship.

To apply, artists must be at least 18 years old and should submit digital JPEG files that showcase the work they wish to submit to [email protected] There is a $35 entry fee for each artist, with an additional $5 fee if they wish to submit more than four works. Works submitted must not be taller than 72 inches and no wider than 120 inches. Additionally, all sculptural works must be able to fit through a 36-inch wide doorway. Once accepted to the exhibition, artists won’t be charged any additional fees. The deadline to enter is August 31.

Open Call: One Foot in the River’ Printmaking Exhibition at Lillian Hogan Gallery

Artists specializing in printmaking have an opportunity to be considered for a show that requires relatively minimal effort and expenses on the part of the artist. Lillian Hogan Gallery‘s “One Foot in the River” printmaking exhibition calls on artists to produce etchings, lithographs, relief prints, monoprints, silk screens and alternative printmaking processes that offer an interpretation of the Mississippi River. The Minnesota-based gallery is located on the campus of Saint Mary’s University, and typically runs about six shows over the course of the school year.

The gallery welcomes entries from artists at any stage of their career, and director Preston Lawing says the gallery anticipates receiving about 300 to 400 submissions for the show. “Artists can submit up to three entries, and there’s no fee to submit to the open call,” he says. “Artists should merely note that the final work should not be larger than 12 inches by 12 inches, and they are responsible for framing the work, though we don’t have any specific requirements for the types of frame they should use.”

Several local printmakers will jury the open call, and Lawing anticipates roughly 100 works will be exhibited. “We really treasure alternative media and push the printmaking form,” he says, noting that artists who best reflect these principles and align with the theme will have a greater chance of being selected. As an added plus, artists will have the opportunity to sell the work, and the gallery won’t be taking any commissions from those sales.

To apply, artists should submit up to three images and an accompanying list. Images should be in JPEG format and should be named with the artist’s first and last initial, followed by an underscore, and the number corresponding to the image list and its title. The image list should include the artist’s contact information, along with each work’s title, dimensions, medium, and retail price. Open call entries should be sent to [email protected], and the deadline to apply is August 1.

open call
Lillian Hogan Gallery frequently hosts printmaking exhibitions. Photo courtesy of the gallery.

Open Call: The London Pop Up Art Fair at Sunny Art Centre

A new pop-up fair hosted by Sunny Art Centre in London wants to build a platform for young and emerging artists to showcase their work, and they’re looking for fresh talent to fill their booths. The London Pop Up Art Fair welcomes artists from of all types and from all corners of the earth – from illustrators and graphic designers to jewelry makers and more traditional visual artists. The event, which runs every three months, is usually hosted over the course of a day.

Artists interested in participating in the London Pop-Up Art Fair should download an application form and forward it, along with images sized no larger than 2MB of their selected works, and a two-page CV, to [email protected]. Artists will also need to show proof of payment for the submission fee, which is £8 +VAT per work. Artists can submit up to 10 works for inclusion, while jewelry designers can submit up to 20 pieces. If selected, artists should be prepared to purchase a stand during London Pop-Up Art Fair to exhibit the work selected. The prices vary from £99 to £199 +VAT, depending on the size of the booth needed to display your work. The deadline for submission for the September 22 fair is September 8, and selected artists will be notified of admission by September 15.

Interested in applying to an open call? Let us know if you have any questions!

About the author

Nicole Martinez

Nicole is a veteran arts and culture journalist. Her work has appeared in Reuters, VICE, Hyperallergic, Univision, and more.

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