SPACES

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DISTRIBUTE, DISCUSS, EXHIBIT

Art Work at SPACES
Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics; Photography by Jerry Mann

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT ART, LABOR, AND ECONOMICS

We are all coping as best we can with the aftermath of the tremendous global economic collapse, the depths of which seem to still be unknown, the criminals who created it still not held accountable. This prolonged economic crisis has already had a transformative effect on the arts. It is disastrous for those who in recent years benefited handsomely from the way things operated. There are a large number of us, however, that did not, and the crisis has caused an even greater reduction in the few resources that were once dependable.

We think that there are some really good things that can come out of this crisis. The established ways of doing things and the treatment of artists and arts professionals were not working well for the majority of people. We think it is an opportune moment to critically reassess the status quo and to push for more equitable working, labor, and economic conditions for artists and arts professionals. It is a chance to insist on an opening up of the infrastructures built for the dissemination of art far beyond commercial market interests and the domination of art discourse by commercial gallery centers and their university training grounds.

We would like to invite you to join us in shifting the discussion and opening things back up. In a collaborative effort, Temporary Services (a Chicago-based art collective) and SPACES (yours truly) produced and distributed Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics, a one-off newspaper that features regional reports, historical analysis, projects past and present that address economic issues within art, and more. After distributing nearly all of the existing newspapers we have in print, we urge your to visit and share the corresponding website where you can find the pdf of the newspaper (high and low res!).

The paper was designed by Temporary Services so that it can easily be taken apart and transformed into an exhibition. We hope to find people who will set up an exhibition of the paper and hold discussions in their cities around the topics within. We also hope that others will see the paper as a challenge and start producing their own publications and start working for a healthy resilient treatment of artists in our society.

The paper continues to be distributed in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. We have been mailing copies to artist run spaces, art collectives, individuals, artist networks and unions, all major art institutions, art media, and universities with art programs.

In addition to the printed paper, artandwork.us presents the contents of the paper and a calendar of exhibitions and discussions around the U.S. A PDF in various formats for use in classes, reprints, electronic dissemination, and other purposes is found here.

Here is how you can get involved:
– Distribute the paper in your city.
– Host an exhibition of the paper.
– Hold a discussion about the economic concerns your community has
– All of the above

If you and/or your venue can host an exhibition, an event, and/or distribute copies of this newspaper, please contact us as soon as possible. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions for the newspaper, related events, and/or the website at any time.

Here is a list of events that have taken place so far …

Thank you and we look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Temporary Services and SPACES
temporaryservices.org
SPACESgallery.org

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Filed under: Artists, Arts Advocacy, call to artists, Cleveland, SPACES, , , , , , , , , , ,

Munnneeeee!

Save? Who, me?

Oink oink.

It’s me again, SPACES’ money-grubbing development manager. It seems like  everyone I talk to these days has cash on the brain. Some are resolving to save more in 2010, and others are stressed about paying off holiday credit card bills. I flip on the radio after a long day of begging for funds, and all of the stories obsess over the economy in general.

The same holds true here in the gallery. We’re topical. Get a load of this:

One of our current exhibitions, Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics, reflects on artists who work amidst depressed economies and how that impacts artistic process, compensation and artistic property. Fortunately for SPACES, Art Work was funded by Lauren Rich Fine & Gary Giller and the John P. Murphy Foundation.

Our next exhibition, ” … in a most dangerous manner”, takes its title from a passage in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital:

Talk about centralisation! The credit system, which has its focus in the so-called national banks and the big money-lenders and usurers surrounding them, constitutes enormous centralisation, and gives to this class of parasites the fabulous power, not only to periodically despoil industrial capitalists, but also to interfere in actual production in a most dangerous manner — and this gang knows nothing about production and has nothing to do with it. [emphasis mine]

Need I mention that this exhibition includes work that —  in one way or another — touches on capitalism and/or economic collapse?

SPACES brings Northeast Ohio artists a chance to build on their creative capital through SPACELab, a forum for experimentation that comes with a small $tipend (emphasis on small). We’re accepting applications now through March 31!

And while all of the lovely programming folks at SPACES make their hard-earned dollars organizing art, I get mine filling out hundreds and hundreds of questions for the Ohio Cultural Data Project. It’s due January 15, and funders claim that it will streamline the funding process for participants, as well as provide valuable data for demonstrating the economic impact of the arts in Ohio.

And finalllly … I can’t forget to mention the talented artists in Cuyahoga County who are receiving Creative Workforce Fellowships. These awards were announced last month by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture here in Cleveland. Talk about a cash infusion! Congratulations!

Wishing all of you a prosperous 2010!

~ posted by Sarah McGreer Hoyt, Development Manager

Filed under: call to artists, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, SPACES Funders & Donors, , , , , , , , , , ,

Full Exposure

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqLjdoFaSng&NR=1]

I am the nag. That is my role. I believe it has something to do with my job as communications manager. Or maybe it has to do with my desire to overcome a childhood battle relating to never being “heard”. Maybe both. Regardless, it is my duty at SPACES to read the artist statements, process and re-work the art-speak and then spit it back out to the public, re-size images, launch the web page, Tweet, talk, advertise and Tweet more about the artist and the exhibitions–in advance, ON TIME and the way the writers want it upon request.

I nag the media. I nag my director and my co-workers (the program managers). I nag the artists. And because I have also been cursed with a life-long battle with guilt, I am taking this opportunity to put a halt to the nagging. Based on my experience as the artist’s springboard to the public, I have provided a few pointers for those of you who have been accepted for a SPACES exhibition. This way, I won’t have to ask twice and you won’t hate me (fear of rejection: another issue I tackle).

1. Read SPACES’ requests for materials thoroughly. Because SPACES shows work that is experimental in nature (and often created for the exhibition itself or during the run of the show), providing images of finished work can pose as a challenge. My suggestion (and preference): take images of the work as it is in the process of being created. If this won’t work for you, provide images of past projects that best represent the work you plan to present during the exhibition. Either way, some visual representation is necessary.

2. While on the subject of images, I stress the importance of size and quality. As a general rule, print media requests that the gallery (or artist depending on the situation) provide images that are no smaller than 300 dpi, at least 8″ X 10″ in size, and come in a .jpg. or .tif format. So important. By providing images this way, right off the bat, you are generously giving us flexibility to work within print and web formats.

3. More on Images: Quality is so important. You worked so hard–poured your blood, sweat and tears into your project. Take a good photograph of it. Set up the scene. Think about composition. Follow through as an artist. You would be shocked if you knew how many images I’ve had to pass on because they were poorly lit, were cut off in odd places, and did not convey the amazing concepts driving the project.

4. Time is of the essence: SPACES has done a number of exhibitions featuring more than one artist. Oftentimes, I have had to go with a second, even third choice image because the best had yet to come. I have to contact the media weeks, sometimes months in advance, and if I do not do it with an image, my press materials will get lost in the inbox. We, as a gallery and as artists, must grab their attention with compelling visuals or we get lost in the shuffle.

5. Document the process: I mentioned this before. If you are creating something new, experimenting with new media, expanding upon or narrowing down a concept, whatever, keep us posted. Talk about it. Blog about it. It could potentially help you in your process, but it also keeps us on the same page. This means I can effectively communicate what it is you will be doing and in turn create a hook for the media.

6. Addendum to #5: Be clear about your process, intent, and concept. I attempt, at all costs, not to inject myself into your explanation of YOUR work. I realize that part of my job is to be a mediator/translator between the media and the artists. However, using lofty language in your artist statement, proposal, and other various explanations of your work can make it difficult to break down for media relations. Make it concise and to the point.

To read more on effectively applying to art spaces, check out ED Christopher Lynn’s post.

I think this will be my last nag for a while. I feel good. Really good. Painful memories of neglected jazz hands, repeated requests for grape Kool-Aid (not orange), and my desire (need, actually) for the Barbie Dream House are fading off into the distance. I feel heard. Thank you for reading and for hearing me out. I hope it helps you on your experimental journey!

Posted by Nicole Edwards, Lover of Communications

Filed under: Artist extras, Artists, call to artists, Miscellaneous Debris, SPACES staff, , , , , , , , , ,

I’d Make a Great Cop: Or How to Submit Applications for Exhibitions, Part 2

application_po-po_red

Part 1 of this two-part series addressed SPACES’ procedure for reviewing material as well as the more effective methods to use when applying to exhibit. This post tackles the more painful, less-effective methods. No one wants to realize that they did something incorrectly after the fact. Most every artist is excited about the prospect of exhibiting their work, but some treat that opportunity like Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men treats his puppy. Just relax. We can’t understand your apparent genius when you’re acting crazy and squeezing us to death. Just pay attention to the effective methods in Part 1 and steer clear of the following less-effective methods.

Less-Effective Practices

  1. Introducing Yourself Through Facebook: Facebook is a very handy tool, but you’ll come off as a tool if you drop me a note suggesting that I look at your website or post images of your work all over our profile’s wall. See #1 under Effective Practices.
  2. Casually Stopping By the Gallery With your Portfolio for a Meeting with the Staff or Director: Our days are often tightly scheduled. Even 24 hour notice isn’t quite enough to accommodate a meeting. If you want a show, apply just like everyone else. If you want to meet us and talk art, most of us would be happy to do so. If you want to meet us and talk specifically about your art, it may happen, but don’t expect much.
  3. Submit a “Curated” Exhibition of “Me and My Friends:” We have a term for exhibitions that have been curated by an artist wherein he/she inserts him/herself into the exhibition. We call these “Me and My Friends” exhibitions*. Exhibitions like these lack legitimacy and honesty. It places the curator-artist at the center of the dialog with supporting characters who validate and verify the curator-artist’s practice. It’s a small step above the director of a non-profit art space scheduling a show for him/herself in the space they run. Something smells fishy. We hope that our curated shows give curators an opportunity to meddle in experimental curatorial practices (the artists shouldn’t have all the fun).
  4. Following Up With a Phone Call: Don’t do this. If you are worried about your work arriving or arriving on time, mail delivery services have options that will let you know when a package arrives. It sometimes takes a while for us to organize a full-exhibition schedule and then respond to those we couldn’t fit in. Don’t call us (or email) unless more than four months have passed beyond the initial submission deadline and we have not responded to you.
  5. Asking for an Extension: If you miss our annual deadline, let it go. Your career won’t fall into ruins because you missed this opportunity. Just like our own beloved Cleveland Browns, there is always next year. Mark your calendars and set your cell phone to warn you regularly of the pending deadline so you don’t miss it again. Most likely you missed the deadline because you were ill-prepared, ill-informed or didn’t schedule properly. But by trying to get an extension, you are in effect telling us that if we give you a show, you’ll likely blow past any other deadlines we give you. Try again next year and impress us with your organizational prowess.

All in all, the application process is seen as a reflection of what it would be like to work with you on an exhibition. If you demonstrate that you are responsible, smart, reliable and skilled when it comes to submitting an application, then it stands to reason that the same characteristics would surface when assembling and installing an exhibition. If you blow past deadlines and cannot communicate or follow instructions, you will likely be a disaster to work with. Regardless of the merit of your work, exhibitions are social in nature. They involve working with the venue’s staff and interacting with the public. We don’t work with difficult people if we can help it.

If you disagree with these practices, I can completely respect that. We have been doing this for years and find this structure useful, but acknowledge that it isn’t perfect. Also, the government sanctioned 501(c)3 status of non-profits has its own limitations that some might find, well… limiting. If you dislike our process and guidelines, my advice is to start your own art space. Heaven knows, we need more.

Posted by Christopher Lynn, Executive Director

(Update 08.31.09: See also: Being an Artist: PROOF-READ EVERYTHING.)

* Other types of exhibitions include: “Crap in a Room,” “Things That are White,” and “Trying Very Hard to Look Very Bad.”

Filed under: call to artists, SPACES

I’d Make a Great Cop: Or How to Submit Applications for Exhibitions, Part 1

application_po-po

We receive a lot of exhibition inquiries and submissions to exhibit at SPACES. Many artists employ many different tactics to get an exhibition with us. Because this is the case, I have to be a stickler for rules to make sure that your time and our time are used effectively—I am the Application Police. Allow me to make our process more transparent in hopes that this can help you not only glide through the application process here, but elsewhere as well.

We select exhibitions from two main sources: 1) a panel reviews applications culled from an open call-for-entries; and 2) the panel also brings the names of cultural producers to the table who they think would be great SPACES artists. These materials are all considered equally and side-by-side to create a list that is ranked according to the panel’s votes. This list is then contacted to find out if selected artists or curators are interested in exhibiting and when during the coming season they would like to execute their projects. The selection panel consists of 7-10 community staff members, artists, curators and/or other arts professionals and rotates annually.

To further demystify the process, I want to point out both effective and the less-effective practices when applying to exhibit at a non-profit art venue like SPACES. Part 1 of this post will address the effective methods.

Effective Practices

  1. Check the Website First: Don’t call, don’t email the director, don’t send us a message on Facebook, don’t “just drop by” until you’ve checked the website for application details. At SPACES, we took the time to let you know how to best approach us. By taking the time to do your research, you are showing us that you are both responsible and able to operate a computer—two key traits in navigating the modern world. Read through the application guidelines thoroughly, including the FAQ before you approach us with any questions regarding the process.
  2. Look At the Type of Work That We Show/Read the Mission: You can refer to our website, press or catalogs to get a sense of what we’re about and the type of work we exhibit. Our mission statement also clarifies that we are looking for experimental and challenging work. There is nothing wrong with working in a more traditional vein, but if you work that way, you won’t be shown at SPACES. We can’t be all things to all people. We are dedicated to providing a venue for artists who are trying new things and questioning norms. Straight documentary photographs of native Amazonian tribes, although striking and well-crafted, will not win us over.
  3. Follow Instructions: If you assume we receive around 200 applications in a year (most accumulating on the day of the deadline), and assuming that processing each application takes approximately 5-10 minutes (if the applicant has done their job properly), that means that our staff and volunteers spend at least 24 cumulative hours opening envelopes, sorting materials, copying images to a computer and other miscellaneous tasks just to get applications ordered for a panel review. When an application strays from our guidelines, we do our best to accommodate and correct, but each correction takes additional time. Doing an end-run around our easy-to-follow procedures does help us to remember your name, but not in a good way. As a matter of fact, you would make everyone else look even better and smarter—not a good move on your part.
    1. If we ask that all file names “should be lowercase with no spaces” we mean it. To streamline our process, each batch of images is uploaded to a server so our panel can review all applications online before convening. If files are not formatted as asked, they won’t show up on the website for review, so we have to reformat them for you. If we’re in a bad mood, your application gets tossed into a bin, never to have eyes laid on it. So, if we say that text documents should be in PDF format, don’t send us Microsoft Word files. If we ask for JPGs, send us JPGs and not GIFs, TIFFs, JPEGs, or PSDs.
    2. If we ask for a CV, give us a CV, not a narrative life story.
    3. We ask for “10-15 digital images” “submitted in JPG format, 72 dpi, no larger than 1MB each.” I can’t tell you how many 3+ MB files we received in our last batch of applications. Since our panel is reviewing materials online, a file < 1MB takes 1-2 seconds to load. A 3+ MB image can take 10-20 seconds to load. You want the panel to be spending their time experiencing your work, not a loading screen.
    4. Don’t send us a URL of your portfolio site or your Flickr page. We didn’t ask for that.
    5. If we didn’t ask for it, don’t send it. Less is definitely more in this scenario.
    6. We don’t ask that your applications be sent in a fancy folder or binder, because we then have to remove your materials from said folder or binder to place in our big, ugly manila folders to be filed with all the rest of the applicants. Your pretty binder will end up in the trash.
  4. Test All Digital Materials Before Submitting: Don’t just try to view your images/videos or listen to your MP3s on your computer, try out the material on a friend’s computer as well or a few different types of DVD players (if applicable). Try the material on a Mac and a PC, if possible. We received a few applications where most of the images would not open on any of our computers. We asked the artists to send the images again. Rather than testing the images on their end before sending the second time, the artists would just send the same files to us once again. It isn’t surprising that they didn’t work that time either. Anyone who works in video realizes that often, video burned to DVD from a computer has the potential to not play on a myriad of other equipment. Test everything first.
  5. Have Realistic Expectations: We have only four slots annually in our main exhibitions. We receive around 200 applications to fill those four slots. You can figure out the odds. If you do exhibit at SPACES, chances are you won’t be “discovered” at SPACES. Your show will likely not sell-out on opening night. Our emphasis is not on selling work, that is the realm of commercial galleries. Although we do sell work occasionally, we are not constantly pushing your work to a steady base of collectors who we have been cultivating for years. We provide a safe space for experimentation, feedback and presentation of work to a varied public audience. We are more of a spring-board than a final resting place.

Read Part 2: Less-Effective Practices.

See also: Ed Winkleman’s Advice for Artists Seeking Gallery Representation.

Posted by Christopher Lynn, Executive Director

Filed under: call to artists, SPACES

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