Call for Artists

Current Calls for Artists

Call for Artists and Poets: Taking Care: Celebrating the Earth

Artist Credit: Jack Fancher, Chester River Spring










Registration deadline extended to March 3, 2020!

Earth day will celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 22, 2020, and Chestertown RiverArts is joining in the festivities. The global mission of Earth Day Network is “to diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide.” We believe that one fo the best ways to highlight this mission is through the creative arts.

Each April, Chestertown RiverArts celebrates our community’s long history of living close to the Earth by hosting an Earth-themed exhibit. Artists and poets are invited to submit works that reflect their concept of our beautiful Earth and what is happening to it. The theme this year is Taking Care: Celebrating the Earth. A portion of the proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to the Sassafrass Environmental Education Center at Turner’s Creek.

Visual Art curators Jack & Barbara Fancher encourage artists to submit work that explores the wonder of our environment and the awesome responsibility of caring for it. Visual Art awards, presented in partnership with LaMotte Company, a committed leader in providing quality equipment and guidance for water analysis since 1919, The Environmental Interest Group of Heron Point, The Mill in Kingstown and Fresh Start Food and Garden in Rock Hall. All varieties of two- and three-dimensional works relevant to the theme are welcome.

Andrew McCown, this year’s Poetry curator, encourages all poets to submit and share their perspective on
the state of the earth. Submitted poems will be considered for The Pat Herold Nielsen Poetry Award, presented in partnership with ShoreRivers, a nonprofit organization working to improve the health of Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education and Echo Hill Outdoor School, whose mission is teaching though immersive experience in the Chesapeake environment.

This award was initiated in 2010 as a tribute to the late Pat Herold Nielsen, a founding member of the Chester River Association, one of ShoreRivers’ legacy organizations. An accomplished poet and an award-winning filmmaker, Pat unceasingly directed her many talents toward engagement with protecting our environment. Poets agree to allow ShoreRivers permission to reproduce their poetry for online or print publications, upon request.

This year, the competition is open to all aspiring young poets. Students from elementary and middle school are invited to submit poetry with the same theme as the adults. One poem from this age group, will be selected to receive our new Aspiring Poets Award and will be on display at the RiverArts Gallery during April’s exhibit “Taking Care: Celebrating the Earth.” In addition, the recipient will have the opportunity to read their poem at poetry reading in the gallery on April 16th. (Submission fees will be waived for aspiring poets).

Visual Art Curators: Jack and Barbara Fancher, Past RiverArts Board Members
Visual Art Judge: Ben Simons, Executive Director of Academy Art Museum in Easton

Pat Herold Nielsen Poetry Prize Curator: Andrew McCown, Associate Director, Echo Hill Outdoor School
Pat Herold Nielsen Poetry Prize Judge: Dennis Forney, Journalist and Publisher Emeritus for the Cape Gazette

Jack and Barbara Fancher have curated several other exhibits together. Jack has pursued both art and science all his life. While enjoying a very interesting and satisfying career in oceanography, he also studied drawing, painting and photography. After 35 years as an Oceanographer, Jack has become a full-time artist and continues to study with regionally and nationally known artists. He has exhibited his paintings regionally, and they are in private collections from East to West, even in Australia and Europe. His photographs have been included in college yearbooks and science CDs. Jack is a juried member of the Working Artists Forum, past president of the Chestertown Arts League and he is a founding Board member of Chestertown RiverArts.

Barbara Fancher pursued a career in Diagnostic Imaging, from X-ray imaging to Administrative management. Once retired, she became a Board member of the Mainstay from 2006 to 2015. There, she held various positions including treasurer, Vice President, and President between 2006 and 2012. At RiverArts she was a Board member from 2015 to 2018. She has ventured to Europe with two groups of artists, and while she does not paint, she was scout for sites to paint and provided general support. She has co-curated exhibitions with Jack, and for more than five years, Jack and Barbara were judges of the Annual 4H Exhibit of schoolchildren’s art at the Kent County Fair.

Andrew R. McCown (Captain Andy) is Associate Director and Director of Summer Programs and the Historic Chesapeake Boat Fleet at Echo Hill Outdoor School. A licensed USCG captain, he relishes teaching participants Bay Studies, aquatic ecology, and the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay. Captain Andy worked as an oysterman for eight winters as he captained the Skipjack Elsworth, one of the last of the great dredge boats of the Chesapeake. In 2008 the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) awarded him the Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award. Andrew is a current board member of ShoreRivers, and was a founding board member of the Chester River Association. He also served on the board of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for twelve years. Andrew performs as a spoken word artist with the critically acclaimed folk group Chesapeake Scenes.

Dennis Forney is a journalist and publisher who has been practicing his profession on the Delmarva Peninsula since 1972 when he graduated from Oberlin College. There, he majored in American Literature and studied poetry with poet Stuart Friebert. He is publisher emeritus for the Cape Gazette, a twice-weekly newspaper serving Delaware’s Cape Region. He and Trish Vernon founded the paper in 1993. Forney grew up in Chestertown and lived there until migrating to the coast in 1975. He continues to live in Lewes with his wife, Becky.

Submission Deadline: March 3, 2020
Juror decisions notification: March 15, 2020. All entrants will be notified. Artists and poets selected for the show will be listed on the RiverArts website

2D and 3D Visual work drop-off: Sunday, March 29, 1 – 3pm
Monday, March 30, 10am – 1pm

Opening Reception: Friday, April 3, 5 – 8pm

Gallery Talk, presentation of prizes for Visual Art, and presentation of donation to Sassafrass Environmental Education Center: Thursday, April 9, 6pm

Poetry Reading  and presentation of Pat Herold Nielsen Prize for poetry: Thursday, April 16, 6pm

2D and 3D Visual work pick-up: Friday, April 24, 10am – 1pm
Saturday, April 25, 10am – 1pm

Submission guidelines for visual artwork:

  • Completed entry form with limit of 2 works per artist
  • Upload image of each piece to Dropbox using the link provided after submitting payment
  • This is a blind juried show: image file names should include only the title of the work, and not the artist’s name
  • Fees: $20 per entry for non-members, $10 per entry for members and students

Submission guidelines for poetry: 

  • Complete entry form below. Each poet submits one entry with a maximum of three poems
  • Submit poems as PDF files via the Dropbox link provided after submitting payment
  • This is a blind juried show: PDF file names should include only the title of the poem and not the artist’s name
    • The artist’s name should also not appear in the body of the PDF
  • Fees: $20 per entry (up to three poems) for non-members, $10 per entry (up to three poems) for members and students
  • Poets agree to allow ShoreRivers permission to reproduce their poetry for online or print publications, upon request
  • 10 poems will be selected as finalists and will hang in the RiverArts Gallery for the duration of the exhibit. These poems along with other poetry submissions fitting the theme will be available for viewing online at the Chestertown RiverArts website.

Requirements for visual art:

  • Art to be hung on walls should be dry and securely wired for hanging. Works on paper should be framed behind glass or plexiglass. Unframed works of fine art, e.g. paintings on canvas, are accepted if appropriately wired for hanging
  • Reproductions such as giclees are not accepted
  • Lithographs, etchings and other printmaking works of art should be created by the artist, numbered and signed
  • Photographic prints, digital and film, should be printed from the artists’ negative or digital file, ideally by or under the direction of the artist, and signed
  • Works of art requiring special or unusual display structures should be submitted along with the structure for display
  • Work should not have been previously shown in Chestertown
  • Artists submitting work will sign a contract at the time of submission giving permission for the work to remain at the gallery until the end of the show unless special circumstances warrant otherwise
  • All work must be for sale. RiverArts receives a 35% commission on all sales
  • Art must be picked up art at the end of the show during the checkout dates and times. RiverArts does not have adequate storage space to protect art
  • All work sent to RiverArts via USPS, UPS or another carrier must include a prepaid return label

The Art of Stewardship Project ( led by Greg Mort ( was the inspiration for this exhibit. 

Please email or call 410-778-6300 with any questions.