Central theme of ArtSites program is benefit for all

June 01, 1996|By John Dorsey

About four years ago, Samuel Hoi, dean of Washington's Corcoran School of Art, and the heads of five Washington-area arts centers decided to inaugurate a regional juried show, held at all six sites in 1994. This year, ArtSites expanded to 11 sites, including Baltimore's Maryland Art Place and School 33.

There are organizational advantages. One call for entry was sent out to 10,000 addresses in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, resulting in 850 responses. Curators from the sites viewed the slides together over a three-day period and chose a total of 86 artists for their separate shows. It would seem that such a system might produce rival curators for the same artist, but according to School 33 director Claudia Amory, that wasn't a problem.

"Everything just fell into place," she says.

All the shows run concurrently, from May 29 through July 27, with bus tours visiting various sites on each of the next four Saturdays.

According to Hoi, the system has advantages for artists, curators and the public. "When a curator curates from a particular community, he or she knows a scope of choices, and the audience may be exposed to similar people over the years. We bring together 11 curators to look at a selection of work from the entire scope of artists and their work in this region.

"And each art center has its own curation process. For artists to access all these art centers, they'd ordinarily have to do it 11 times. Here, they're exposed to 11 curators at once, and even if the curators don't select them this time, they notice them."

Although there was no directive to the curators to pick artists from outside their communities, it often worked that way. Nine of the 13 artists in the two Baltimore shows are from the Washington or Richmond areas.

Hoi says three more sites are interested in joining the 1998 biennial, including the fine arts gallery of the University of Maryland at College Park.

Note: At 9: 30 a.m. June 8, a bus tour will leave Maryland Art Place, 218 W. Saratoga St., for a tour of the shows at the Corcoran and the District of Columbia Arts Center, returning to Baltimore at 3 p.m. Cost is $10 per person (lunch not included). For information and reservations, call the Corcoran School of Art at (202) 628-9484.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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