Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

New Podcast: How Art Fairs Choose and Run Their Juries

Wednesday, November 21, 12 noon ET

In a business full of taking chances the first big challenge an artist has is to make the jury cut at the shows. After all, if you can't get into the show you aren't in business. I'll be speaking with

  • Mo Riley, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair: Mo came to the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (the original one) about 3 years ago from the Detroit Festival of the arts. She inherited a complex jury system that has over a dozen jurors from various media who attend on consecutive days, breaking the jurying down into small pieces.
  • Lyn Sedlak-Ford, Board Member Art in the Pearl, Portland, OR: one of a group of 14 artists who started this show 17 years ago. There are 3 left of the original group. We'll talk about how an artist's organization chooses a jury and what they expect from their jurors.
  • Jerry Allen Gilmore, juror for many of the nation's best art fairs: with an MFA in painting and drawing he has had a career both as an artist, exhibiting internationally, and as an arts administrator in Colorado. Currently he is concentrating on curatorial projects, artist portfolio reviews, jurying for regional and national art institutions and on his own artwork.

We'll talk about:

  • how to choose a jury, qualifications, diversity, experience
  • demands on the jury
  • how they showcase the applications
  • jury instruction
  • different kinds of jurying

Do you have questions you'd like me to ask? Please add them below.

We'll also be taking questions from callers at this #(805) 243-1338


Views: 659

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 19, 2012 at 11:34am

Here are the details about the AASAF's structure of their jury:

THURS. FEB. 7 / 4:00PM - 8:30PM - Wood, Furniture, Clay
FRI. FEB 8 / 4:00PM - 8:30PM - Jewelry, Metal
SAT. FEB 9 / 9:00AM - 4:00PM - Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, 2D MM, Photography, Digital
SUN. FEB 10 / 12:00PM - 5:30PM - Sculpture, 3D Mixed Media, Fiber, Glass

Comment by Larry Berman on November 19, 2012 at 11:47am

All the 2D mediums are juried the same day and that's awfully tiring for the jurors. When I attended the Fort Worth jury early on, I commented that because the categories were juried alphabetically, painting was followed by photography. Two of the largest mediums with full screen similar images was very tiring to watch. My comments were taken seriously because from then on, Fort Worth alternated 2D with 3D categories when they jury.

Larry Berman

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 19, 2012 at 1:55pm

One of the reasons for this, Larry, is that at AA they don't retain the entire jury for the whole jurying. The people who are jurying on Thursday are not the same ones as on Saturday, e.g. This system really tries to answer the artist's request that they be juried by specialists in their media.

Comment by Elle Heiligenstein on November 19, 2012 at 7:16pm

Hi Connie

Please ask them this question:  When two artists have the same medium, the same quality of work and they both have great booths, how do they decide who gets in?  Do they invite them both, flip a coin or is there some other way they select the artist that makes the cut.  Thank you. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 20, 2012 at 9:19am

Great question, Elle. That should be a tough call. I'll include it tomorrow.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on November 20, 2012 at 1:44pm

PODCAST QUESTION: I am a professional saddlemaker-silversmith and I have pursued my craft full and part time for 53 years. I work with bark tanned, chrome tanned and exotic leathers producing both hand carved and plain work. Leather is a medium that is usually lumped in with fiber or "other". Leatherwork is an ancient craft, and it is not taught in schools. How do you select and/or instruct jurors, whose expertise in this medium is most likely limited as to knowledge of materials and techniques? I ask this question because what I observe being juried into top tier shows is either "rustic and rough" low skill level work, or higher skill level work not much different from what is sold in upscale department stores.

Comment by Connie Mettler on November 21, 2012 at 9:39am

Got it, Dick. I've added it to the list of questions. Though I'm a little confused because you seem to be answering your own question. Do you want some in-between ground of leather workers juried in? or are you asking because there seems to be a bias one way or the other for skill levels?

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on November 21, 2012 at 11:22am
Just curious as to how they select/ instruct jurors who have to jury a medium where they have no expertise. The latter is simply an observation of current results. Not asking for anything, but it is rather glaring that no hand carved work shows up in top tier shows, only the machine embossed imitations used in handbags.
Comment by Richard L. Sherer on November 21, 2012 at 7:09pm
Connie,Thank you very much for asking the panel my question. This was a very informative podcast even though I probably won't be applying to their shows. What I got for instructions to jurors regardless of medium was technique, color, texture, design, originality, inventiveness and artistic merit as criteria. What I got from Jerry about leather specifically was presentation, presentation and presentation. The quality of the work won't be seen if the presentation doesn't stand out. What I have to do now is get out from under the backlog of studio work so I can focus on new art work in time for spring juries and get the redo of my booth done.
Comment by Connie Mettler on November 22, 2012 at 7:45am

Dick, I thought Jerry's answer to your question was excellent and I'd think from your point of view pretty reassuring. These jurors are serious, they do know what "art" is, they don't need to know how to tan leather, fire a pot, do lapidary, to know understand and appreciate excellence when they see it.


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