Entering Shows…The Headache

I enter shows. Some are quilt shows. Some are art quilt shows. Some are art shows. Some, I don’t even know what kind of show they are…but I enter them. I’m pickier now than I was a million years ago when I started entering shows. I used to enter EVERYTHING, but it’s expensive and difficult to manage the entries and some of them are just lame venues or the piece is only there for three days or they want you to pay a million dollars to show it there (do you really need a handling fee? Can I charge you a fee for keeping my hanging paraphernalia because you were too lame to return it? Yeah. I thought so.).

Anyway, as school looms overhead (it’s always looming, school), I am trying to get my head in gear for entering the plethora of shows that seem to cluster in August-October, because I know once school starts, I will not even have enough free time to pee, let alone enter exhibits with a wide range of bizarre requirements that will take me an hour to figure out. I need to prioritize the shows and see what I have to get done here to have enough stuff to enter and decide how I will spend the last three (sob!) weeks of my unpaid time off from hard labor.

I sound like I don’t like my job. Hmn. At the moment, I’m not sure I do. The goods are not outweighing the bads at this very moment in time. Then I get a picture in my head of that sweet little huggy girl who pulled her grade up from a 22% in my class at the end of the first trimester to a solid B by the end, and I change my mind. I should just print her picture and post it everywhere in my house.

ANYWAY. The quilts, Kathy, the damn quilts. I finished 2.5 sides of the binding of Tsunami (which I realized yesterday shouldn’t be called tsunami because it included the hurricane that hit Australia and is about global climate change in general and not just the Japanese tsunami). It can be photographed later this week maybe. The big quilt of summer is in a good place, hopefully even a better place later this week, for finishing by the time school starts. I have other stuff to work on too, but I might actually get some time to do that this week.

So I started evaluating the calls for entry that are out there, and I tell you…I was just filling out my entry document (I keep a Word doc, a table actually, of everything I want to enter, have entered, and have gotten into, so I can keep track of where everything is or might be or would like to be), and I’m reading through all these requirements for SIZE and THEME and ENTRY and PREVIOUSLY SHOWN and did I mention SIZE and I got a Massive Headache.

Gone are the days of a simple, wide-ranging theme that could be interpreted in many ways, with a simple size range for height and width (bigger than this, smaller than that), and a restriction about how old the quilt might be…a huge number of them are asking for specific heights and widths, or the themes are so tightly reined in that I can’t even get my head around them (yet another reason never to make art for a theme), or the entry process itself was going to require my firstborn to recite the first 100 decimals of pi (I think he can get pretty far, but not THAT far), and the headache got bigger.

I want to make art. I want to show my art. I don’t want to think about how big (or small) my art is and I don’t want to figure out how to squish my art’s theme to fit some weird idea of theme-itude or theme-ness. I don’t want to try to figure out how to make my art/ideas/existence fit somebody else’s idea for an exhibit. I don’t want to worry about whether venues will pitch a fit about nudity (and by the way, curators should be figuring THAT out before the show prospectus goes out, so people like me don’t enter garish work or nude work in exhibits where the venue or the juror will reject them outright…otherwise, y’all are fraudulently taking my big bucks).

See. Headaches make me cranky. They make me rail at the system.

Here’s another rail at the system. I didn’t have anything in any exhibit at IQF this year. I was OK with that…until I went to the show yesterday and realized I didn’t have anything in it. It didn’t REALLY matter, because one of the things I hate is exhibits that are only up for 3 or 4 days, but I would have liked to have seen something of mine there. I don’t know why. That part of my brain is currently dealing with the headache. I’m sure it’s a very immature and childish part of my brain.

I’ll have to write more about IQF later, with pictures. There was some very cool stuff there. My headache is too large to deal with it right this minute.

So I’m back to that endless argument I always have with myself about where to show art and how to show art and how to stop caring about themes, even though I want my pieces in exhibits that travel for a long time all over the place. I can’t do the art that gets into those exhibits unless the exhibit itself talks to me. I had this dilemma last summer with one of the traveling exhibits, and I debated it in my head until the last minute, deciding then not to enter, because it would have placed undue stress on my ability to make the stuff I cared about. I may decide the same thing this year. But I read about other people working on work for this exhibit all year, and then that made me pissy, because I wasn’t going to be in that exhibit, and you can see how I get headaches. I need that lame part of my brain that whines about stuff to wander off for a swim and never come back. I need the confident artmaking part of my brain to take over and Just Do It and ignore where it might be shown. Make the art for art’s sake and the exhibits will come. (Whiny brain is commenting that my big quilt from last summer that I absolutely love has not made it into any shows at all and that’s what artmaking brain gets for its stupid attitude.)

Obviously the logical thing to do right now is to take pain meds and fondle some fabric, because none of my brain is really listening to reason. Later I’ll figure out if I really want to enter any shows in the next three months. The answer might just be no…not right now…maybe later.

7 Responses to Entering Shows…The Headache

  1. marblers76 says:

    triple ditto


  2. Tanya Brown says:

    Yep, what you said.

    I figure that unless a show is very prestigious, the theme really speaks to me, or the size is very common (12 x 12″), tight restrictions are a sign that I should direct my energies elsewhere.

    I think of this as the “hibachi landlord” rule, after a former landlord whose lease agreement included a lengthy list of ever-more-outlandish “thou shalt nots,” concluding with “tenants shall not use a hibachi in the bathtub”.


  3. Julie says:

    Let’s see, this isn’t FB, is it… Well, anyway, I “Like” Tanya’s comment.


  4. Marijke says:

    I have similar feelings all THE time! About once à month I check out Calls for entry until it gives me à headache. When it involves making à Cd of pictures I’m out. When à theme is involved I only do THE ones that inspire me right away, and give me at least 8 months to complete THE work. Besides that I also make art for art’s sake, but then it’s not easy to find venues to show.
    In THE Netherlands there are Hardly any opportunities at all
    I think it’s interesting we’re both teachers, i certainly need my art to balance my life!


  5. Yes, to everything. I wanted to enter a show this summer. The width requirement was 40″ max – I have a quilt that fit the theme perfectly (a small miracle in itself) but it’s 53″ wide. I could have turned it sideways, but then it’s not the quilt I made. Some people would do that, but that’s BS. Another show of small quilts had a 17″ requirement – I have a new small piece that’s 18″, so no go. That’s enough for me to take the same approach you speak of – make my own art, and so be it. I actually wrote a blog post about themed quilts and groups that do themes. It got lots of varied responses. I guess if you are in a successful group like that it’s all working for you, but I would be too distracted from my own ideas. There is only so much time…..


  6. Interesting about the size restrictions. I am making my first competition quilt at the moment and I nearly decided not to enter because the size is smaller than I wanted to make the quilt.
    What I ended up doing is making a test-version of the quilt I really want which will go into the competition and then once I have the techniques sorted out with that I’ll make larger ones that I’ll keep with some gorgeous Leesa Chandler fabrics.

    Seems like the size restrictions drive some odd behaviour and maybe the rule makers need to consult with their community as well as their tape measures 🙂


  7. Martha says:

    I sure hope I get to enjoy your work at Quilts=Art=Quilts this year!!!


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