Call for curatorial proposals

Call for curatorial proposals

Descanso Gardens

© Descanso Gardens Foundation.

April 11, 2023
Call for curatorial proposals

Application deadline: May 15, 2023

Invitation to submit a curatorial proposal: Descanso Gardens invites California and USA-based curators, artists, collectives, and cultural producers to submit preliminary proposals for exhibitions and programs. Descanso Gardens is committed to giving emerging, mid-career, and established curators and artists the opportunity to expand their portfolios. The Gardens present a variety of exhibitions and programs each year including solo, group, traveling, and guest-curated displays. These are intended to broaden the education programs by presenting art, science, and relevant historical material to support the mission of Descanso Gardens “connecting people with nature and one another.” Through our exhibitions and programs, we strive to deepen our impact in our community, strengthen engagement with members and visitors, and create experiences of discovery and connection. Descanso seeks curatorial proposals for the 2024–26 calendar to be presented at the Sturt Haaga Gallery, the Boddy House, and/or satellite locations throughout the botanical gardens. Applicants must review the requirements and submit their preliminary proposal by May 15, 2023.

Curatorial proposal guidelines
Theme: Trees. Trees form the backbone of Descanso’s botanical collections and are key to the garden’s character.  From the canopy above, to the roots underground, trees provide beauty, shade, shelter, habitat, food, connectivity, and movement at the Gardens.  Around the world, trees are symbols, metaphors, landmarks, elders, part of legends, and people’s daily lives.  What can we learn from trees?  How can we celebrate them?  How do they connect and protect us?  What stories are revealed by careful study of trees?  

Curatorial concept: The exhibition/ program concept must closely align with the mission of Descanso Gardens to connect people with nature and one another, reflect the latest knowledge on the subject matter, foster innovation, as well as inspire discoveries and creative contributions that respond to Descanso Gardens’ botanic collections. As an organization located in Los Angeles County, Descanso Gardens prioritizes the inclusion of diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, experiences, and community connections;

Interdisciplinary approach: Descanso Gardens seeks proposals that utilize a creative blending of disciplines, media, and diverse points of view;

Media: The proposal may use any media type (artworks, installations, performances, projections, virtual reality, text, etc.). The exhibitions and programs must be appropriate in scale material, form, and content for the cultural and physical environment in which they are to be presented. The proposed works, displays, and programs don’t need to be new and may have been presented before;

Please review the complete list of the Call’s requirements and selection criteria on the website.


How to apply
Please submit your preliminary curatorial proposal to Descanso Gardens by May 15, 2023, by including the following information:
–The completed preliminary curatorial proposal form on Descanso’s website
–Curatorial statement
–Your Resume and CVs of curators, artists, and other key collaborators
–Five to ten images with captions (no more than ten MB)
–Any other information that may be relevant to your proposal (essays, articles, etc.)

Application schedule
The call for curatorial proposals has the following schedule*:

April 27, 2023 9am: Open Information Session – applicants have an opportunity to have a Zoom conversation with Descanso Gardens about the Call for Proposals and ask questions. To join the Zoom meeting, please use this link and the following meeting ID: 898 9930 7370).

May 15, 2023: Preliminary submissions are due.

May 30, 2023: Descanso Gardens will review preliminary proposals and invite the shortlisted candidates to proceed with the full application.

August 1, 2023: Completed Curatorial Proposals are due.

October 5, 2023: Descanso Gardens will inform applicants what proposals have been selected for exhibition in 2024–26.

*Please note that the above schedule is subject to change and applicants may be asked to submit additional materials during the evaluation process. Curatorial proposals are reviewed by Descanso Gardens leadership and the Exhibitions and Engagement Roundtable.

If you have any questions about the Descanso Gardens Call for Curatorial Proposals, please contact Cristeen Martinez, Gallery Director, at cmartinez [​at​] Call for proposals website here.

Thank you for your interest in Descanso Gardens!

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April 11, 2023

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