Mayor’s Art Show Returns

The city is bringing back the popular juried show of local art

When the Jacobs Gallery closed in 2016, it meant the end for the Mayor’s Art Show, leaving Eugene without a popular art celebration that had spanned decades.

This summer, the Mayor’s Art Show — which had its last run in 2015 — will come back, in a smaller form, as a part of a week-long summer art festival showcasing the area’s many galleries as well as recognizing talented contemporary and street artists.

Isaac Marquez, the director of the city’s Cultural Services Division, says he sees the importance of visual art in Eugene. 

“When the Jacobs Gallery closed, we heard loud and clear that the visual arts were a priority for this community,” Marquez says. 

The Mayor’s Art Show, which dates back to the 1980s, was a juried exhibition to which Lane County residents were encouraged to submit their art. A jury chose works to be featured in the private non-profit Jacobs Gallery in the lower level of the Hult Center. 

Art rejected by the Mayor’s Art Show jury could be exhibited at the Salon des Refusés at the New Zone Gallery.

The new mayor’s show, open only to Eugene artists, will be held in the now-smaller Jacobs Community Room at the Hult. Rejected works can still be shown at the New Zone’s salon.

“The salon is such a spirited part and a complement to the Mayor’s Art Show. It seems like one should go with the other,” Marquez says.

So far, the mayor’s art show has received 40 submissions, although Marquez says he is hoping for 100. 

“Right now we have more opportunities for artists and the arts than ever before, especially with the visual arts,” Marquez says. “We can help create a catalyst that leads to more support for the visual arts.”

The new Eugene Biennial will also be back this year.

Karin Clarke created the biennial in 2016 as an every-other-year event serving as a stand-in for the Mayor’s Art Show. The juried show, hosted at her downtown gallery, invited artists from Lane and neighboring counties to submit their work; a jury has already picked the 31 works for this year’s show.

In the off year, Clarke hosts a separate art show for the seven winners of the biennial from the previous year. 

“I knew it wouldn’t be a replacement for the Mayor’s Art Show, but I wanted it to be something,” she says. 

Clarke hopes the city festival will create excitement for the biennial, which will run from July 25 to August 25. In the future, she sees a possibility of involving more galleries and venues to create the energy of the old Eugene Celebration, which jacked off each year with the Mayor’s Art Show opening.

“It will be really interesting to see how the energy is with the two exhibits — if people will be comparing them or if we will get more traffic,” she says.

Marquez is hopeful that those who submit work and attend the shows are inspired and surprised by the arts, especially local art. 

“I think events like this are worth investing in because it gives us an opportunity as a community a chance to invest in each other,” Marquez says. 

To enter the Mayor’s Art Show, participants must pay an entry fee of $15 and submit their art by June 17 at callforentry.org. The show will run July 27 to Aug. 25.