Art Show Themes

Art shows often come together better if there are parameters. These might be subject matter, concept, color palette, size, medium, or some combination of these things. There are no guarantees that artists will respond to a call for art by submitting strong artwork. A theme that you thought was wonderful, might be greeted by a small pool of tepid art. You really can’t know in advance, and over the years I’ve been surprised many times.

What do Dynamic Women, the Preponderance of Purple, Haunted, and Mimic the Masters have in common? The planets were in good alignment, and each of these shows was very successful! Below are my pieces for two of those shows. The top one is Women of Color Rise, part of the Dynamic Women show. The second one is Flowers and Rain (in the style of Klimt), part of the Mimic the Masters show.

I am on the committee at AVA, my local art center- that dreams up some of the themes for the coming years. I am also the Exhibits chair for Front Range Contemporary Quilters ( So, I am thinking about possible theme ideas, and noticing what has been, and what is coming.

Many recent calls for art have been related to the pandemic, and are being presented as a virtual show. The focus on the pandemic is not surprising, and I myself have created many pieces that are about current events: climate change, the pandemic, racial injustice, and political divides.

In-person shows are coming back. Most brick-and-mortar shows must be booked over a year in advance. What will artists be wanting to ‘talk about’ 18 months from now? Because I don’t know, I rely on the directions that I want to take, and the ideas that I find compelling. I write them down, and sometimes persuade the committee.

Chasing Light is the theme of a juried show happening at AVA in August. We hope to get a good response, in part because it is a juried show with nice cash awards. The following is what the artist sees for this call:

The subject of this show is light and shadow, and the interplay of the two. A plein air painter or photographer records the light as quickly as possible, before it changes. The still life painter is often focused on capturing reflected light. The 3-D artist (clay, metal, fiber, etc.) sees relationships in forms, a variety of textures, contrasts of dark and light values, and repetition in shadows cast. How can your medium and your choice of subject, best express the theme of Chasing Light? There is no minimum size. Maximum size in any direction is 48 inches. You must be 18 years or older to enter this show.

I hope to create some artwork to enter in the Chasing Light show. Here are three reference photos taken early in the morning, as I was exercising. I may or may not use them, but I like them enough to share them with my blog readers. Light and shadow are on my brain.

It has been a very cold month. I have loved cooking and eating hearty Chicken Masala: I use already cooked, diced, leftover chicken. For this recipe use the equivalent of 2 thighs’ worth. Saute 1/2 yellow onion diced and 1/2 red bell pepper diced in olive oil or chicken fat. If you have 2 handfuls of snow peas, saute them as well. If not throw in a little chopped cabbage, or use thawed frozen peas later in the recipe. Add spices: 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. red pepper flakes, 1/4 t. each ground cumin and coriander, 1 t. Moroccan seasoning, 2 diced cloves garlic, and 1 t. fresh ginger diced. Add 16 oz. tomato sauce or crushed tomato, and diced cooked chicken (and frozen thawed peas). You may wish to add a little chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil, then simmer a few minutes. Serve over cooked quinoa, brown rice, or Banza noodles. Top with a drizzle of coconut milk or dollop of yogurt.

3 Responses to Art Show Themes

Lyn Velle

Thanks, Joan. Your blogs are so fun to read. Want to try the Chicken Marsala.

Christy Gerrits

Interesting to read what goes into planning an exhibition. You do a beautiful job of displaying the art,work

Patty Hawkins

Fascinating and breath of fresh air
Talking of exhibit themes!so awesome you are doing FRCQ exhibits!!!
Your shadows are intriguing too!
Love that your noggin is reaching out, that Klimt piece over the top great!
Hugs! Patty


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