Toledo Area Artists exhibition, Salon des Refusés offer face time with local artWritten by Dave Willinger | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you have recognized the genius of Vincen Van Gogh if you had been living in the south of France during the late 1880s? Maybe you were a Bohemian in Greenwich Village in the 1960s; did you suspect Andy Warhol’s soup cans would define pop art?
There are exhibitions on view in Toledo where visitors can decide for themselves which contemporary local artists may have what it takes to one day join the ranks of the immortals.
The granddaddy of local art shows is at the Toledo Museum of Art. Featuring works by 76 locals, the longstanding annual Toledo Area Artists (TAA) exhibition is free and runs through April 14. This year’s exhibition has been called diverse and “very exciting” by the museum’s Mellon Fellow Kate Nesin, a contemporary art historian who juried the exhibition together with Connecticut-based artist Joe Fig.
Besides paintings and sculpture, the exhibition includes jewelry, fabric and ceramic art. Nesin said the submissions were “mostly representational,” including “a great deal of portraiture,” which seemed to buck a recent trend toward purely formal abstract art that Nesin had observed around the country.
Fig said he and Nesin went through the submissions “many, many times” before making their selections. Fig called this year’s exhibition “a rounded show,” because of the assortment of media it features. He acknowledged the selection process is subjective but when it comes to making art Fig said, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”
As for detecting any discernible trend from the hundreds of submissions, Fig said, “The trend is that there is no trend.” He said there are “little pockets of different [art] genres” around the nation. Instead of any particular genre of art, people are trying to chase subgenres.”
The jurors based their selections for the exhibition on electronic images of the artwork submitted to the museum, standard practice for this type of show. Those images were passed along to the jurors without the names of the artists.
Salon des Refusés
With nearly 600 artworks rejected by TAA, there is plenty of work to hang at the Parkwood Gallery at the Arts Commission’s offices, 1838 Parkwood Ave., across from the museum. That is the location of the Salon des Refusés, which takes its name from a 19th-century French forum for Impressionism, which at the time had not yet been accepted by the art establishment.
PRIZM, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the artistic community, has been sponsoring Toledo’s Salon des Refusés for four years. But the salon has a tradition in Toledo that goes back 20 years, said Annette Jensen, the founder of PRIZM, which is a member of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies. In its early days, Salon promoters might lurk near the museum steps on the lookout for local artists with that hangdog look to ask for submissions. This year the Toledo Museum of Art included submission information for the Salon des Refusés in its emails to artists whose work was not chosen for the TAA show, Jensen said.
Bowling Green State University School of Art professors Tom Muir and Dennis Wojtkiewicz juried the Salon. Muir said he was surprised there were not more entries but called the work “overall quite good.” Wojtkiewicz, who said BGSU art profs regularly serve as jurors both regionally and nationally, said the submissions reflected “quite a range in technical quality, content and creativity.” But in an email to Toledo Free Press Star, Wojtkiewicz said “the beauty of the Salon show” is “artists receiving an opportunity to exhibit their work in a quality venue and being treated in a respectful and professional manner.”
Muir, who said he has been submitting work to the TAA show for about 20 years, was himself rejected this year, although his art has been selected for inclusion in the past. He said he is a fan of the Salon des Refusés because the annual show means artists “working outside of tradition or acceptable art forms can still exhibit their work.” Muir said one of his favorite things about the TAA exhibition has always been going across the street to the Parkwood Gallery to “see the works that did not get in.”
The Salon des Refusés gives “people in the art community a chance to see works that might be outside standard practice,” Muir said.
How does a juror select a Best of Show? Muir said he and Wojtkiewicz looked for pieces that were “the most inventive and well-resolved in the craft and artistic content of the work.”
The professors chose artist Randy Bennett’s mixed media work “Faded Not Forgotten” for Best of Show. Wojtkiewicz said the overall quality of the three pieces Bennett entered played a role in his decision. Both jurors agreed that Bennett’s “work stood out in a way that made him a deserving candidate for the award,” Wojtkiewicz said.
Jensen noted that mixed media artwork has gained in popularity lately. The collage-like technique can be used as a way of “capturing memories,” said Jensen, who believes people are “hungry for some kind of connection” to their own past and to others, as evidenced, for example, by the popularity of social media.
A tip for submitting artists
As someone whose art has been both accepted and rejected many times over the years, Muir had a tip for artists who submit work: provide good quality photographs. While Muir acknowledged that a photo does not always give “the full sense of the work,” he said jurors may see the quality of the photo itself as a test of professionalism. In his juror’s statement, Muir wrote, “I continue to urge artists to invest in the highest quality photography that they can, for the sake of their work’s best representation.”
In addition to the TAA and the Salon des Refusés, art lovers can also view the University of Toledo’s juried student exhibition through March 15 at the UT Center for the Visual Arts, adjacent to the Toledo Museum of Art.