As a gallery operator, Elizabeth Moss knows how hard it is for artists to get their work shown in public. Many more artists come calling in search of display space than she could ever accommodate.

So it came as little surprise that Moss and two colleagues faced an overwhelming task when selecting work for the third annual Yarmouth Art Festival, continuing through Saturday at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. A reception will be held from 5:30 to 8 tonight.

“The caliber of the art was really wide-ranging,” said Moss, who operates Elizabeth Moss gallery in Falmouth. “We saw a lot of pieces from experienced artists to the just-starting artists. The outpouring of interest in the fairly young event is really remarkable. Because of the economy and the need to show your work and get your work out there, a show like this can be a real success.”

In all, 75 Maine artists are displaying their work. The show features painting, sculpture, photography, prints and works in digital media. The submission call drew more than 330 entries from 100 artists; jurors chose 159 for display.

In addition to Moss, other jurors were Anne Haas, art librarian at Bowdoin College in Brunswick; and Suzanne Harden, a Yarmouth artist represented at Bayview Gallery in Brunswick.

Joe Michaud, festival co-chair, said the event began as a way to highlight the community mission of the church.

“We have a lot of artists in the congregation,” he said. “About two years ago, we started asking if there was something we could do for the artists in the community. There are a lot of art types in these north suburbs.

“We are a community-service organization, and we take a broad view of creation. We look at art and nature as part of our world. So this art show felt like a natural extension of our community work.”

Michaud is not an artist, nor does he consider himself “an art person. But I appreciate art, and I understand how hard it is for an artist to be represented by a gallery. You can put up a show at a coffee shop or library, but that’s a lot of work, and that space is limited. Or you can set up at a show like the (Yarmouth) Clam Festival, but you have to stay there all weekend. It’s a major commitment.”

The Yarmouth Art Festival is designed to be simple. Artists can enter online, and they do not have to attend the festival beyond dropping off their work for display.

Proceeds from sales go to the artist and to various community causes that the church supports, including local food pantries. Last year, art show patrons purchased 45 pieces, with prices ranging from $75 to $700.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: [email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes