Feeding on Emerging Artist

fishing for recognition

Money offers an entry

For a long time, I worked the ’emerging artist’ scene here in Los Angeles. This is the lowest level of the Fine Arts world. It works like this:folks who are (or, more often, simply deem themselves) artist go looking for places to exhibit their work. Maybe this is a pay-to-play artist run space or organization, or, maybe it’s an on-line ‘gallery’ that asks for money to put you in a ‘show.’ More than likely, you’ll pay a small gallery a fee to have a chance to be juried into a group show, the juror being a local arts luminary, writer, or  academic. They take your money, and you might get into a group show.
What you’re supposed to do, as a professional artist, is to get yourself curated into shows at reputable galleries, by a known, or, up and coming curators.

Same thing, different medium

Recently, I’ve been working more in video. My collaborator – Alfredo de Batuc – on one project, “Bosquejario I,”  suggested we enter the ‘film’ into some film festivals. Great idea, I thought. As we submitted our picture to these (numerous) festivals dotted all over the world, the routine was sadly predictable – the routine of money changing hands with the pressing of each SUBMIT button. We hope they will show our work, but, there is no guarantee. The only sure thing, is that someone takes your money. [note: through a generous donation, we had $$ to spend on film festival ‘promotions.’]

Helping the hopeful

It is clear that we have one group of aspiring artists, many just scraping by to pay for their oil paint and canvas, or, their subscriptions to Adobe Premiere Pro, and, we have another group of enablers eager to lighten the purses of these artists, or,  auteurs-to-be.  The enablers are engaged in a sure thing, but the artists have hope, or, faith that one day their ship will come in. I don’t know about that. There will always be a certain number of creative folk who will never be dissuaded from their chosen task, just as there will always be someone close at hand to aid creative folk in their artistic journeys.

If everyone’s happy with the arrangement, there is no foul. If not, you write a blog post.

[ featured image: https://flic.kr/p/9hnQR4 ]

By Beau

Painter, designer (print and digital) since the twentieth century.


  1. when the commercialization of art influences its entry points, we tread in realms that affect freedom of expression. Glad you chose to post about this.

    1. Much truth there, Danielle.
      By the way, Zygmunt Bauman has much to say on this topic in chapter five – “Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire, or the Arts between Administration and the Markets” – of his book “Does Ethics Have A Chance in a World of Consumers” (Harvard University Press, 2008).
      Thanks for introducing me to the work of Professor Bauman 😉

  2. Recently Matt Gleason posted something along these lines about this practice in the gallery world. He’s definitely OK with this arrangement. In my experience there are only a handful of art spaces that ask for an entry free, usually artist-run outfits. Juried shows more often than not do, and they are usually not-for-profit endeavors.
    Even the most prestigious film festivals (the AMPAS, Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, &c.) also operate this way.

    I guess one must play it as it lays to stay in the game.

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