Information For Artists

Exhibit and Art Program Proposals

Got an idea for an exhibit-related program or educational opportunity, or are you an artist looking to exhibit, or would like to suggest a traveling exhibit for us to host, please review the information below.

Biennial Competitions

The Sabatini Gallery hosts a national, biennial, juried competition every year, alternating between The Topeka Competition (odd years) and The Printed Image (even years). Both competitions are sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Cash and purchase awards are announced at the reception.

  • The Topeka Competition celebrates national artists working in three-dimensional media, and offers visitors an opportunity to view the newest, most innovative work in contemporary arts and crafts. Past jurors have included L. Brent Kington, Richard Notkin and Robert Ebendorf. Email us at gallery@tscpl.org if you would like to receive a prospectus (entry form) for this exhibit. Please indicate Topeka Competition Prospectus in the subject line. Check out past Topeka Competitions on our Flickr page: TC30, TC29
  • The Printed Image supports national artists working in hand-pulled print media, and offers visitors an opportunity to view the latest trends in printmaking. Past jurors have included Endi Poskovic, Roger Shimomura and Karen Kunc. Email us at gallery@tscpl.org if you would like to receive a prospectus (entry form) for this exhibit. Please indicate Printed Image Prospectus in the subject line. Check out past Printed Image Competitions on our Flickr page: PI3, PI2

Inspiration & Motivation

Looking for an extra push in the right direction? In August 2011, we asked some of Kansas’ best artists what advice they have for artists just starting out. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, you’ll be surprised how much these words can apply to any passion, be it cooking, dancing, singing, writing, teaching—the list is endless.

Eric Abraham, Ceramist

Eric Abraham, Ceramist

DO and keep DOing. Don’t be afraid.

Learn all you can about art—all art. Check out art books from the Library. Read about Art.

Go to museums, galleries, art shows as inspiration. Look and Look!

If you find a medium that you feel comfortable with, pursue it with a passion. Art is Passion.

Go to art openings and art shows—talk with the artists. Ask questions—there are no dumb questions.

Simply put: IMMERSE YOURSELF IN ART!

Rita Blitt, Sculptor & Painter

Rita Blitt, Sculptor & Painter

Have the courage to create and listen to your inner self.

Vernon Brejcha, Sculptor

Vernon Brejcha, Sculptor

Practical and philosophical advice? That’s a tough one. When I had students for four or more years and saw where they were in development it was possible to give some of this advice. Myself, I was stubborn and rejected a lot of advice because most of the time I knew what I wanted my art to say and where I wanted it to go. What to avoid or getting on the right is about making mistakes and learning from them. Being a loner in my own dream world, networking has always been a bit of a mystery. Again, I did pass on to students what I observed other artists doing. Keep searching your own heart and soul. Keep pushing your skills and ideas. Trying to go along with trends will forever keep you trying to catch up. Safe art is like a slick wire fence—it’s the barbs that get attention.

The small town schools I went to had no art programs. I’m thankful for that because nobody tried to tell me what art was. I saw that happen to my own children. Thankfully out of three universities and ten years of formal art education, I did have two professors (artists) who spoke intelligently about art, life and respected their students’ aesthetics and vision. They also gave advice about the art world of galleries, publicity, and self support. Important information but again knowing an individual’s personality and goals depends on how the advice should be given.

Chris Wolf Edmonds, Mixed Media

Chris Wolf Edmonds, Mixed Media

Pursue your passion.
Keep learning, practicing, exploring, experimenting, doing, making!

On a more specifically practical note: If your art is important to you, then make it your priority. Set aside time to work, then work when it is time. The dishes in the sink will still be there when you get back to them. Set up a place to work, whether it is a spare bedroom, a basement, or the dining room table, it is your studio. Once you have a time and a place, you can PURSUE YOUR PASSION.

And on a very specifically practical note: Just don’t let those dishes pile up in the sink too long or they’ll start to encroach on your art time and space!

Tim Forcade, Photographer

Tim Forcade, Photographer

My best work appears when self concepts—preconceptions about what I’ve done, what I think I know or who I think I may be—dissolve into the pure experience of doing. Much of what the work consists of is connected to letting go and connecting with process, media, phenomena—the moment. Forget aperture or focus, forget which combinations of color produce other colors, forget surface, space, composition, texture, timbre, pitch and plie. Drop them all and realize them all completely.

Survival as an artist is connected to the acceptance of never knowing—a commitment to being clueless. It’s useful to find a balance between living analytically and living intuitively, between thinking your life versus simply living it. Remaining as open and flexible as possible leaves space enough for the unpredictable—the magic—to appear. Try everything. As you sort through options consider those you would least entertain right along with those you most desire. Along with my work as an artist, I’ve worked as a dental technician, laborer, blues band member, author, teacher, software developer, commercial artist and more.

Along with all my study of the visual arts, I’ve skydived, scuba dived, studied classic opera, experimented with electronic circuitry, computer programming and so on. I’m frequently fascinated at how traces of these experiences continue to show up in my work providing wider perspective and influencing everything from small details of technique to my overall approach to a given series of pictures. Pauses are fine however, remember … never stop.

Linda Ganstrom, Sculptor

Linda Ganstrom, Sculptor

Be persistent. Imagine your best possible life, outline the steps needed to get there, then make it happen one step at a time.

Avoid people who destroy your dreams with "practical" advice. Creating art rarely seems a practical choice to those who know nothing of the profession and practice.

Avoid making excuses for yourself. Find a way to make your art.

Find a teacher and environment that nourishes you and nurtures your skills.

To network, get out there and get involved in the arts community. It is amazing what can be accomplished if you don’t worry about who receives the credit or getting rich. A "can do" attitude attracts others.

You should feel energized and fully alive if you are on the right track. An artist sees deeply, feels deeply and has deep insight. Deep studio time is a timeless place of great peace and satisfaction. If you hate going to the studio, find another job. Balance your art and life. It is more important to be a good person than a good artist.

Think about how your work contributes to culture and life. Be aware of what you are putting out there. Make sure your life and art are part of creating a better world.

Lisa Grossman, Painter

Lisa Grossman, Painter

I can appreciate that artists or craftspersons might have a masterful way with their materials or techniques. But again, it’s usually stated that one has mastery "over" their medium. I wouldn’t want to think that I had mastered oils or watercolors, for example, as that indicates that I’ve got it all figured out and there is nothing left to discover, nothing that might pleasantly surprise me while I’m working. Of course if you work with your materials long enough you develop a certain confidence and facility that should inspire you to risk more, discover more, push the limits of the media, but hopefully never to feel as if you’d "mastered" it.

My greatest fear as an artist would be that I’d taken something to it’s highest level, or "mastered" it. Where do you go from there?

If I’m not discovering something new in every painting I feel like I’m repeating myself and the work is probably lifeless. In fact, when I do feel like I’m in a rut, I’ve discovered that often the best way out of it is to switch my medium or subject to jar myself out of feeling too adept. I much prefer the notion of "beginner mind" and seeing things in a new and playful way no matter how skilled you might be with your materials.

That said, the more skilled you become using your materials the more clearly you can express your ideas, the more you can step back and let the material be what it is. It is wonderful to be proficient with materials but to think of yourself as being co-creators with them. I’ve called this controlled spontaneity, and you bounce back and forth between control and playfulness in the creative process so that you don’t smother the work with your "mastery."

Anthony Benton Gude, Painter

Anthony Benton Gude, Painter

I still struggle and work hard at what I do. I think there are very few artists who are ever completely satisfied with their work. If painting was that easy, there would be no challenge in it. So I am always reaching for what I feel could be better in my work.

I always say to young artists, don’t get discouraged and don’t be disappointed if you feel you failed in what you wanted to create. Each attempt brings you closer to what you want to achieve. Most of the time, we are our own harshest critic and what we want to toss out, someone else wants to buy … keep working.

Cally Krallman, Painter

Cally Krallman, Painter

Gather other artists around you. Seek out people with similar art aspirations and various skill levels to use as "barometer" for your skill level. Enter local, then regional, then national shows to also help you determine your art skill level. Not everyone is cut out for a career in art … it can be a lonely life. Not only do you have to paint well, but you have to be knowledgeable of many other fields: accounting, marketing, advertising, negotiating, etc.

But the beauty of art is that even if it is not your career, it can bring life long joy of creating!

Kathleen Kuchar, Painter

Kathleen Kuchar, Painter

Personally, I find it necessary to go a little “crazy” from time to time and take the paintings into stages that are not necessarily “comfortable.” By doing so, I force myself to look at things a little differently and to push the work into a new direction or perhaps, make the artwork tell me where it wants to go. I find myself in continuous conversation with my art. It is a tug-of-war at times, but for me this is what makes it all worthwhile. I would never be happy making art that didn’t stretch my own being.

Keep working no matter if you feel like it or not. Don’t worry about being rejected or accepted. Believe in yourself. Become adept in the techniques and skills in making your art as this gives you the freedom to express yourself. Connect with other artists by attending art openings. Sign up for free newsletters on the internet where you’ll find advice, inspiration, information, etc. Sign up for free daily art magazines and you will be kept up-to-date on what is going on in the art world.

Avoid negative people. You don’t need to hear that you can’t do something. You need positive feedback—helpful criticism.

Some of the best places to get your first show: in a bank lobby or library gallery. The main thing is to have a body of work that might have a theme. This causes you to focus your attention on a certain thing and then expand by going deeper into the subject. Subject matter should not be the end product but should be the doorway to further exploration. By doing something over and over in a series, you are bound to develop a body of work that is more creative, imaginative, expressive than if you just did a superficial study of the subject. Get inside your own self and be a little crazy at times. You will be surprised at the results. The goal here is to find your own spirit within the work and only you can find that. It is by hard work, patience, and being trained in the techniques of art that you can let your spirit “fly.”

Barbara Waterman-Peters, Painter

Barbara Waterman-Peters, Painter

 Strategies for Success: TAM by Barbara Waterman-Peters (PDF)

One of my pieces of advice to young artists is to work hard, learning everything you can from other artists and teachers. Even if it seems strange or not what you want to do, you never know when that knowledge will come in handy!

Look at art in galleries, museums, magazines, books and on the Internet. Read about art. MAKE ART!!! Meet other artists and talk to them. Show your art every chance you have! Join or form a group of artists. Art is more than just making the work—it is involvement in the world around you, communicating what you feel.