Greenwich Art Society, Greenwich CT

Interview with Karen Heffner, artist and our newly appointed Vice President in charge of Juried Exhibitions

This month, Greenwich Art Society President, Shauna Holiman, talks with Karen Heffner, artist and our newly appointed Vice President in charge of Juried Exhibitions, about new policies concerning our juried exhibitions.

Shauna: Welcome, Karen! First, I’d like to explain to our membership the new structure we have adopted for managing the many exhibitions the Greenwich Art Society undertakes. We have created a five-person committee to evaluate work submitted during our screenings and to award exhibitions in our various venues. Rosemary Webber is in charge of Community Exhibitions, managing shows at the Nathaniel Witherell House, The Barnum Financial Group and Greenwich Hospital. Karen Heffner manages large and juried exhibitions: The Bendheim, Flinn, and White shows. Bill Grant and Penny Putnam manage the Greenwich Art Society Gallery and the entire committee will help with our annual members’ non-juried show at the Art and Nature Center. Our hard working photographer, Lucia Ravens, also part of the exhibition committee, will manage all the photographing for the website and publicity. As you might imagine, this represents a tremendous amount of volunteer work.

Karen: Yes and we are so grateful to the many volunteers who help with the shows in so many ways. I think some members do not realize how unique an art organization the Greenwich Art Society is in Fairfield County.
It provides local artists (whether they are budding, emerging or professional artists) extraordinary opportunities to show what they are capable of in a variety of venues. Some artists are competitive and looking to make their mark. Our juried shows allow them to have their work judged by jurors of regional, national, and international reputation. Our non-juried shows are a chance for all members to show their work. Emerging and professional artists have an opportunity to hone their exhibition skills and show a body of work in a solo or small group show in highly visible and attractive venues such as the GAS gallery, Nathaniel Witherell or the Garden Café.

Shauna: One thing that is easy to forget in the midst of all this plenty is that these exhibitions are not guaranteed annual events. Each year new local art groups ask the Flinn, Bendheim and White Galleries to be included in their mandate to support local artists. The same goes for our community venues. We earn our place by giving them the best show we can and respecting their rules. Karen, what guidelines can you offer us when submitting work to our juried shows?

Karen: Well, the first thing is always to enter your best work. The second is to beautifully present the work with clean mats and appropriate, quality frames and pedestals. I have often walked with the jurist during the judging of a show. Some judges reject work they like because of the shabbiness or inappropriateness of the mats used or the manner in which it is framed. Judges are aware that the quality of the show reflects not only on the artists and the GAS, but on them as well.

Shauna: The Greenwich Art Society has put together some new policies to prevent such problems and to comply with new policies mandated by the galleries in which we show. Things are becoming quite a bit stricter in this regard. Let’s continue talking about the issues. We’ll outline our new policies at the end of the interview. (Note: these policies will also be included in the prospectus for each show.)

Karen: Good idea. The next thing is to recognize that, although the Greenwich Art Society rents the galleries for a reasonable fee, the host gallery needs to make money to keep going through the sale of art works. Gallery managers are understandably upset when they see a lovely work of art hanging in their gallery that is either not for sale (nfs) or priced so highly that that the artist is obviously discouraging its sale (which is very unprofessional). Gallery managers are now enforcing their right to exclude any work that they think is ridiculously overpriced. The good news is that the Greenwich Art Society offers, in our non-juried exhibitions, opportunities to show work that an artist does not want to sell. Such opportunities are an important part of our mission and a service to the artistic community. So, show your not-for-sale works at these exhibitions (we all want to see them!) rather than trying to enter them in a juried show.

Shauna:  I was talking with Frank Juliano of the Bendheim Gallery who had a some particular points about work exhibited in their gallery. The Bendheim will no longer accept or allow to be judged any work of art that has hung in the Bendheim or Greenwich Art Society Galleries in the last 24 months. If they determine they have seen it recently, they will reject it and theirs is the last word. Although this has been their policy for some time, they have decided to strictly enforce it, effective immediately. Also, all works MUST be for sale and they cannot be taken down before the finish of the show.

Karen: We would not want anyone to be hurt or offended if their work is rejected because of these policies. It is painful to drive to the gallery to submit work, only to be reminded that you have not followed the requirements of the gallery and/or prospectus. It is the artist’s responsibility to know where a work of art has been exhibited. If you think your work might have been exhibited in either the Bendheim or the GAS gallery we recommend you not submit it to the Bendheim show. Also, the Greenwich Art Society will not refund the entry fee for a rejected work, no matter what the reason, so please choose the art submitted carefully.

Shauna: We have an exciting reason to put our best foot forward in every way for the Bendheim show in that our corporate sponsor, Credit-Suisse, is partially underwriting a full color catalogue with photographs of all the works in the show. Our official photographer, Lucia Ravens, will be (frantically) taking all the photographs the weekend following the judging on March 7th. She cannot photograph works under glass so, if you get into the show and want your work that is under glass included in the catalogue, PLEASE have a high quality, digital photograph available for us to use and email it to us as soon as you hear you have been accepted into the show. If you need help in preparing a photo of your work before you submit it, call Lucia, (212-388-2822, mobile: 908-239-0073) and, for a very small fee, she will help you get something together.

Karen: This sponsorship of the catalogue is very exciting! When showing your work to prospective buyers or galleries, inclusion in such a catalogue is a wonderful credential. Naturally, the catalogue will be copyrighted to protect artist’s work and the usual release form will be required.

Shauna: That brings up something else: the Greenwich Art Society’s agreement with our official photographer about the use of her photographs. She has generously given GAS permission to use, without remuneration, her photographs for our website, publicity and catalogues. This right does not extend to the artists whose work she photographs. If you like a photo she has taken of your work and want to, say, post it on your website or use it in your personal publicity materials, please contact Lucia directly and arrange to buy the image from her. This is standard in the world of photography and we count on all Greenwich Art Society members to honor this agreement.

Karen: One last note: neither the Greenwich Art Society nor the galleries in which we show have space for artwork that is left either after judging or after a show. Please make it a point to note the pick-up dates and times. Recent problems have made it necessary that we begin enforcing the $25 per day late fee for pieces not picked up on time. Please make arrangements with someone else if you cannot pick up your work yourself on the day specified in the prospectus. If this is impossible, we recommend you wait for another show.

Shauna: Well, that’s lots of policy. But, rules exist to limit conflict and we have enough conflict in this world already without letting it sneak into our art society! So, let’s sum it up. For juried exhibitions:

  1. The Greenwich Art Society and/or the curators of the galleries in which we exhibit, have the right to reject work of art if:

    a) It is poorly or inappropriately presented
    b) It is inappropriately priced
    c) It has been exhibited in that gallery before.

    Entry fees for rejected works will not be refunded.
  2. For inclusion in catalogues, accepted artists whose work is under glass must provide us a high-quality, digital image of the work immediately upon learning that they have been accepted into a show. All artists must sign a release allowing images of their work to be used for publicity purposes, on the GAS website and in our show catalogues. All artists must also agree to refrain from using images provided by our official photographer for their own use without making an arrangement with her.
  3. All artwork left after pick-up deadlines will be subject to a fine of $25 per day, per work. Fines must be paid prior to release of the work. Work cannot be taken down until the show closes.
  4. All work must be for sale.

Karen: Seems easy enough! Next time we’ll talk about the Greenwich Art Society Gallery…. what we hope to do there and the several services we can provide to exhibitors. In the mean time, enjoy creating your art and we look forward to seeing you all at the Bendheim show!


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