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2021 Athenaeum Open
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Entry Deadline: 8/25/21
Application Closed

Entry Fee (Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association): $40.00
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 4
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 4
Call Type: Exhibitions
Eligibility: Unspecified
State: Virginia

The 2021 Athenaeum Open
Focus on Climate Change/Sustainability

The Athenaeum Gallery invites DC, Virginia, and Maryland artists to explore concepts related to climate change. We are looking for a wide variety of topics and perspectives, but all work accepted into the exhibition will have a common leitmotif: optimism for improving our footprint on the planet. Works will inspire rather than threaten, celebrate rather than scare, and explore new materials and techniques that help present a positive message about climate change and productive ways we can meet the associated challenges.

 $3,750 will be given in prizes, through four awards: Best in Show, Honorable Mention, Art Optimism, and Popular Choice.

 Artists are encouraged to consider the theme broadly and creatively. Some of the works accepted into the show might:

  • Reflect today’s opportunities to have a beneficial impact on the future.
  • Inspire, motivate, or educate people to take action in response to climate change.
  • Comment on the fragility or our world.
  • Feature sustainable or repurposed materials, methods, or practices.
  • Identify threats and propose solutions.
  • Explore the philosophical, cultural, and ecological implications of our impact on the environment.

Artists who live or work in Virginia, Maryland, or the District of Columbia may submit work. Artists who do not live or work in Virginia, Maryland, or the District of Columbia are not eligible.

Selection Criteria
Works for inclusion in the Athenaeum Open will be selected from an open call by Athenaeum Gallery Director, Twig Murray.  Works will be chosen that show aesthetic excellence, mastery of media, creativity and thoughtfulness. All submissions must include a statement that explains how the work fits the theme: Art Optimism.

The  $1,500 First and $750 Honorable Mention prizes will be determined by a well-known gallerist based on their personal and professional opinion of the best or most outstanding work in the show and a runner-up. 

 A $1,000 prize will be awarded to the artist with the most effective climate change/sustainability message or thematic response to Art Optimism, as determined by Fran Dubrowski, director and co-founder of Honoring the Future.  

 A $500 award will be awarded to the work with the most Popular Choice votes at the close of the show.

Artwork Specifications

  • Work must be available from September 23 - October 31, 2021.
  • All visual media is welcome, but every work must be wall-mounted. 
  • All works must arrive fully finished or framed, wired, and ready to be hung with picture hooks.
  • Work must be less than 9 inches deep and lighter than 30 pounds.
  • Works that require electricity will not be accepted.
  • Entries that do not comply with the rules will be disqualified.

The artist is responsible for getting, or arranging to have their work delivered, to the Athenaeum on Sunday, September 19  between 10 and 4, or Monday September 20 between 10 and 2, or by special arrangement.

The artist is responsible for picking up, or arranging to have unsold works picked up, on Sunday, October 31, between 4 – 6, or by special arrangement.

The Athenaeum is not responsible for works left in the gallery after the close of the show.

The Athenaeum Gallery will retain a 40% commission on works sold, and will issue a check for 60% of the sales price to the artist no longer than thirty days after the show has closed. Sold work remains in the gallery until the last day of the show. Work does not have to be for sale to be included in the show.


Applications must be submitted online by Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Artists will be notified by Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Work must be delivered to the gallery on September 19  between 10 and 4, or Monday September 20 between 10 and 2, or by special arrangement.

Unsold works need to be picked up, on Sunday, October 31, between 4 – 6, or by special arrangement.

All works in the show will be insured by the Athenaeum Gallery for 100% of the retail price from September 19 through October 31, 2021.

About the Athenaeum
The Athenaeum Gallery is the headquarters of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA).  Founded in 1964, the NVFAA is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in all forms of art, and to establishing programs that will enrich the cultural life of Northern Virginia and the surrounding metropolitan area. The Athenaeum Gallery exhibits work created solely by artists living or working the region and strives to present visitors with a wide variety of excellent work and unique experiences.

Application Requirements

Eligibility Criteria