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Juror Joseph Cavalieri talks “Superstition & Belief”

For October’s group exhibit, “Superstition & Belief,” our juror is the New York-based stained glass artist Joseph Cavalieri. He wrote this guest post for artists to read ahead of the exhibit.

The deadline to enter this exhibit is Friday, September 4! Enter here.

Juror Joseph Cavalieri at work.
Juror Joseph Cavalieri at work.

With a title like “Superstition & Belief,” this exhibition has the possibility of being mistaken for a house of worship or even a haunted house — it could go either direction. I am hoping to get plenty of entries from beginners to seasoned artist, and expect to be surprised.

When selecting entries for any exhibition, first on my list is the concept behind the work. Before I look at the title and any description, I seek intriguing art, that is distinct and fresh. I particularly feel work that shows emotion, and creates a strong mood, will result in a powerful group show. I also study the fabrication of the work, and compare it to other similar work. Quality of workmanship and production value is important.

As I view the entries I first make a working list of my top selections, and see how they complement each other. Often I draw out the exhibition space and see the best arrangement, choosing what piece should open the show, and which should close it. I decide how best to arrange the art to create a storyline to entertain, surprise and possibly educate the viewer.

About entering exhibits: Submissions, delivery, promoting and attending the exhibition all take plenty of energy and time away from the artists’ production schedule. Before entering an exhibition, one should research the gallery to see the location, photos of the gallery space, past shows, hours the gallery is open to the public and how much work normally sells. In my experience, every show you get your work into is worth the exposure and connections it brings. I have two rules for artists: you must attend the opening, and you must meet at least three strangers during that opening.

Artist have many challenges in life. When I teach I have a very popular worksheet to help students focus. It includes questions on their favorite work in the past, and a “Five Year Plan.” I ask the students to discuss a fantasy job five years from now. It helps direct the path of their careers. Some students only want to make work as gifts to friends, some want to have a great work studio, while others want a solo show in an important gallery or museum in five years. If you are reaching for a solo show in the future, you have to take the proper steps, starting with group shows like this one at The Art League.

— Joseph Cavalieri

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