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How and where to show off your art

By Julia Chiapella

SANTA CRUZ masquerades as a haven for artists, although it has very few independent art galleries. Faced with this lamentable disconnect, our artists have precious few venues in which to display their art. On the other hand, we've got a top-notch museum downtown as well as galleries at UCSC and Cabrillo College that regularly display outstanding work and also showcase student work yearly.

Outside of these academic institutions, the Pajaro Valley Gallery in Watsonville, the Santa Cruz Art League in Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center all regularly display the work of local artists, as do Many Hands Gallery and Atelier Gallery, both in Santa Cruz.

There are also a few cafes and public agencies that display artwork. For artists frustrated at the dearth of bona-fide galleries, these are excellent alternatives and great places to get experience hanging a show. Alternatively, by becoming a member of the Art League or the Pajaro Valley Gallery, artists can exhibit their work in the yearly members' shows.

The County Government Building, Metro Transit Center, Louden Nelson Center and Health Services Agency are all receptive to both new and established artists and prefer county residents. The County Building and Metro Transit will only take work from Santa Cruz County artists, with the stipulation that an artist be a county resident for at least six months.

Serena Scott, exhibits coordinator for the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, handles the County Building exhibitions. "You have to have a strong body of work, a style," Scott says about how artists are selected. "But other than that, if you have high-quality slides that you can submit to a panel and you get selected, that's pretty much it. As far as exhibits go, it's pretty low-key."

Low-key is a byword in Santa Cruz, but don't get too lax. Hannah Cramer of L. Kershner Interior Design, which handles the exhibitions at Lulu Carpenter's coffee bar, says a lot of potential exhibitors are weeded out because of inferior presentation. "They need to be pretty together," Cramer says of potential exhibitors. "We get a lot of scanning done that way. It does play a big part, but ultimately it's the artwork."

That artwork, though, may not be accepted in one venue while another will be happy to have it. Most public arenas--like Louden Nelson Center and the Metro Transit Center--will not take work that contains incendiary images related to violence, nudity or political themes. Those kinds of works may have a better chance at an independent gallery or cafe.

But it's always a good idea to get a feel for the exhibition space and the clientele before submitting work. And when submitting work, make sure any slides or photos are high quality and include a résumé and artist's statement. Beyond that, considering the high cost of framing, you might want to make a framer your next best friend.

(Julia Chiapella writes about art and dance for Metro Santa Cruz.)

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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