Friend and fellow artist Michael Sheng invited me to the reception and awards ceremony for the American Artists Professional League's 83rd Annual Grand National Exhibition at the legendary Salmagundi Arts Club. I've always wanted an excuse to get inside the Salmagundi club, founded in 1871 is one of the oldest artist clubs in the city, older even than The National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. Both are clubs I'd like to be a part of one day, so getting a free tour of the place seemed well worth the trip.
The beautiful brownstone from the outside might not look so big.
It isn't until you get inside and arch your neck to get a look up the staircase that you realize there are 4 floors that are equally as massive.
A sitting room off the main entrance has paintings dating back to the 1800s.
Down the main hallway into the first large gallery, paintings were lining every wall, all vying for awards. So many paintings there was hardly room for any to stand alone and breathe. 99 percent of the work was painted photorealistic depictions of people, places, or things. The show could have been called "Check out how well I can recreate photo I took, but with paint!".
In the back of the main room there was wine and hors d'oeuvres. They were selling catalogues of the pieces. It turns out the pieces were all numbered instead of having their name printed on the wall nearby each work, which made it hard to keep track of, and since I didn't buy a catalogue I was pretty much just looking at anonymous stuff.
Not the best way to present a show this large, as it was quite overwhelming, to the point of the pieces blurring together.
When the presenters finally took the mic, the list of winners was never-ending. I would understand if there was a first second and third place, but there were dozens of categories to win first, second, and third in.
Artist Michael Sheng and his lovely wife, make-up artist Jitka Kluglova.
Michael and myself talking shop.
Michael's work in the show: Zlata Praha 5 , Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 30 inches. One of the few pieces in the show that wasn't trying to be dead on photorealistic.
I wandered downstairs and there was a whole second half of the exhibition I didn't even realize was down there. Past a dining room, and a wooden bar room that resembled a German beer hall was a separate gallery with long ancient snooker tables. The history in this place and the architecture of the building is amazing.
This might have been the one piece in the show that was closest to being a line art painting. It didn't win anything.
The colors in this piece were beautiful, and if you look closely you can see that the clouds are made-up of cowboys leading cattle into the great beyond. This is the closest thing to illustration I saw in the show, the closest thing to not being a portrait, landscape, or still life. This is why I had to point it out.
Not in the show, but part of the club's permanent collection Slipping A Mickey by Del-Bourree Bach was the only painting in the entire club to have any true line art in it, and it could be considered an illustration. It made me smile, there is hope for me to get into this club yet!
ART SUCKS ARCHIVES
NOVEMBER 2011 - BY MONTH & YEAR:
SEARCH ART SUCKS BY KEYWORD(S)