Most artists and designers want to exhibit their artwork in a prestigious, high quality venue. If that’s your goal, figuring out how to make it happen can be a daunting task. To help you with this challenge we are presenting a series of blog posts focused on describing different exhibition venues and how artists might successfully approach them. In a previous post we discussed art museums. You can read that post here.
Today we will discuss art centers.
There are more art centers than there are museums and they come in a wide variety of sizes with many different programs and purposes. Some, like the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, are large institutions that are internationally known, respected and considered to be in the same circle as the best contemporary art museums.
The vast majority of art centers, however, are smaller institutions serving local or regional audiences. It is this second category of art centers we will be discussing in this post.
Unlike art museums, most local and regional art centers have no permanent collections to speak of. When they display art they do it by bringing in exhibitions organized at other institutions or by creating exhibitions from outside artwork assembled specifically for that show.
Art centers also serve their audiences by sponsoring lectures, classes, workshops and special events. If you visit their website – or pick up a brochure from their front desk – you will see a wide range of activities on their calendar.
The bottom line is that most of these smaller art centers are strongly connected to the community around them. They exhibit the work of local and regional artists and they provide services that benefit the local cultural community.
Here is a link to the Richmond Art Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have a long history of working with local artists and providing resources for the community.
Like museums, art centers favor giving solo exhibitions or other high profile shows to more established artists. There are, however, some exhibition possibilities a beginning artist/designer can explore…
First, if you are interested in pursuing exhibition possibilities at an art center you should visit the center and learn more about what it offers. Unlike museums that can sometimes seem intimidating to approach, art centers are usually very open to conversation and inquiry. You might even find volunteer opportunities and workshops that interest you. Taking classes and being affiliated with an art center can be very helpful for your own development and can also help open the door for future exhibition possibilities.
Most art centers have one or two group exhibitions a year that focus on regional art, design and crafts. Some of these shows are open juried exhibitions where artists pay a small entrance fee and submit artwork that is then accepted (or rejected) by a well-known artist or critic.
Some art centers allow artists to submit proposals for exhibiting their own artwork or work that they select. Here is a link to the Georgetown Art Center’s call for 2016-17 exhibition proposals. Georgetown is near Austin, Texas.
Many art centers also have gift shops that feature the work of local artists. Art centers offering classes and workshops generally reserve some of their exhibition space to showcase the work of faculty and students. The gift shop manager, or even the receptionist at the front desk will know who you should contact to learn more about these options.
Art centers are excellent resources and a good place for artist/designers to find out about the larger cultural community around them.