Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Call for Work Made with Light

Annmarie Garden, an affiliate of The Smithsonian Institution, has issued a call for entries:

A winter exhibit of work with the medium (neon, fiber optics, LED, luminous substances, light graffiti, projections, etc) or subject of light, including large to small scale installations, completed or proposed.

Deadline Oct 2. No fee.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fewer Calls to Artists

There are definitely few calls compared to a year ago at this time. We keep a database of several thousand organizations we have dealt with during the past 10 or more years. The first thing we do when preparing for an issue of AOM is to check the sites of those whose calls we published 12 months previously. A very few sites have have disappeared, a few are still up but clearly haven't been touched in several months and may still be showing last year's call.. Several have messages such as "Please check back to this page beginning January, 2009, for our 2009-10 Call to Artist Information," even though it is now the end of May.

In many cases this lack of action is because of funding cuts, in others, because of the fear of them. Most art centers get a substantial part of their funding from their local governments. In the US, art is seen as "enrichment" -- something that may make life more pleasant but which is not important -- rather than a serious endeavor which can ultimately alter a culture, hence one of the first things to go when budget cuts seem in order.

In many cities and states in the US, as well as in Australia, most of Europe, and in major Canadian cities, percent-for-art programs mandate that 1/2 to 2 percent of the cost of a publicly-funded building or major renovation project be spent on art. The advantage of this system is that funding cannot be cut off through normal budget cuts but would have to be done via new legislation such as was unsuccessfully tried by a Washington state senator. The disadvantage is of course that when there are fewer such projects, there are fewer public art commissions. The real impact of a slowdown might not be seen for a while, as most such building projects are planned and funded long before actual work starts.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

George Sugarman Foundation Drops Artist Grant Program

The George Sugarman Foundation is no longer offering grants to individual artists but will "continue to serve the wishes of George Sugarman through the donation of his artworks to institutions, museums and universities throughout the United States.

The last artist to receive a grant was AOM subscriber John E. Stallings. More of Stallings's work is on his site.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Calls for Public Art Trending Toward Local Restrictions

Compared to two years ago, a greater percentage of calls for public art RFQs or RFPs are being restricted to artists living within the state the call originates in. Sometimes they are limited to those within a region and sometimes within a city itself. As a general rule, those limited to a city are normally those with smaller budgets or which deal specifically with the history of the city.

A certain amount of this territorial restriction is -- territorial. It comes from artists and their supporters pressuring the issuing agencies to "keep the money at home."

Steve Fairfield has been keeping us up to date on the goings-on in Washington state, where Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, first sponsored a bill to eliminate mandatory funding of public art. According to Hobbs: "I respectfully disagree with members of the arts community who feel the Art in Public Places program should be sacrosanct. What message are we sending to struggling middle-class families across our state when we force our agencies to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on art while our children’s favorite teachers are being handed pink slips?" He continued: "I am not an opponent of the arts, merely a proponent of common sense public policy that reflects the values of most of the people in this state."

He apparently assumes his constituents -- and artists -- don't understand a budget, whether personal, business or legislative always represents priorities; the higher the dollar amount, the higher the priority. Zero dollars = zero priority = not interested.

When that bill failed, Hobbs pushed a bill to limit the funds to artists living within the state. It got enough support from artists and their state representatives that It passed. On May 15, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed the bill.

"I'm disappointed," Hobbs said. "I was just trying to help more artists in the state of Washington."

At least he wasn't using art as a political football. He would never do that. Nor would any other politician.

FAQ Double Icon Problem Solved, Tips Also Up

Double icon problem fixed at AOM FAQ. More tweaking later. Please let me know about anything that needs correcting or if you think of any questions/answers that should be up there.

The Tips page is also up in its beta stage. Since this is made up of various bits and pieces of AOM cover letters of about the past two or three years years, there is a certain amount of repetition. Tried to bring things up to date and did a fair amount of pruning but more probably needed. Let me know if you see anything that needs more work.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bedford Gallery Opening

There's a post over at The Cranky Artist that's worth reading. We published the Bedford Gallery's call to artists for this show, but are not too happy about having done so.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Notes, May 09 Issue

As promised, some notes about the most recent issue, May 09:

The Art Center in Corvallis OR seems to be out of business and the domain name, http://www.theartcenter.net, is for sale.

Abstract EXPOsure is what I call a contest site. It's not really a gallery, just an online presence that collects money from artists who want to gamble $30 or more that they will win $200 against possibly hundreds of competitors. I don't know how many entries AE gets, but if it gets only seven, it's made its "nut." If everything about this site is completely legitimate, and I'm not suggesting it's not, it's still a bad deal. There are a handful of other places like this, a few of them run by a computer science instructor in Colorado. The fact is anyone with moderate Web building skills, or access to someone who has, can set up an online gallery and hold a contest.

The "Florence Biennale" is at it again. This is strictly a vanity venue. Anyone who pays the fee can get in. It is cleverly marketed, in that it fools the kind of people who are easily fooled. One thing they do -- an old trick, actually -- is give awards to prominent artists. It doesn't mean the big name artists are present at the show or even know about it. It simply means that the producers, two brothers who own a commercial art studio in Florence, can use the names in their promotion. Your local art club -- or bridge club or Cub Scout Troop -- could do the same thing. But probably won't.

This year, the "invitation" from FB to artists is at least candid enough to state: "The exhibition is entirely funded by artists, that can search for sponsors independently in their own country." (This language probably added as a result of a law suit or threatened suit.) The sad thing is that in years past I have seen small countries and local law firms dish out money to sponsor their local artists who had been invited, not knowing that the invitations were the email equivalent of the old letters stating "You may already have won!!!" on the envelope. But "Florence Biennale" sounds so much better than, say "West Podunk Biennale," doesn't it? But they would otherwise be essentially the same thing. So hopeful, naive and needy people are fooled. A few years ago, I did some calculations on how much it would cost an artist to show and be present. Something in excess of $10,000 the figure was, especially since the FB strongly recommended its own shippers. For that amount you could promote you work in a much effective way. Or set up your own Biennale.

Further elucidation of the AOM ratings system: The "Editor's choices" are marked with |+| because I think they give an especially good value or are prestigious or are different and interesting. Everything is not about money. Those marked ~ (tilde) are pretty much ones that I didn't feel justified in leaving out but which really didn't seem to be good value. Basically, that means that their entry fees didn't seem to justify their awards, which were often non-existet. Nevertheless, I included them because they might be near enough to some subscriber to be worth looking into.

In once case I remember I upgraded a listing after a representative of the show -- of miniatures -- pointed out that although they didn't give much in the way of prizes, the tiny works were very cheap for the artists to ship and judging was directly from the work, so slides, CDs and cameras didn't have to enter into the equation.

Well, that's the start. Open for questions.