By Kristin Hoerth
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to San Antonio, TX, for the opening-weekend festivities of Greenhouse Gallery’s annual Salon International show. At the Friday-night awards banquet, judge Edward Minoff presented a slew of awards: first, second, and third place, which went to Justin Hess, Mica Pillemer, and Robert Spooner, respectively; five merit awards based on subject matter; and five awards of excellence sponsored by vendors and publishers, including Southwest Art and its sister publication, The Artist’s Magazine. Minoff also bestowed 30 Honorable Mention ribbons, and the owners of Greenhouse Gallery, Jim Janes and Mark Smith, awarded the Jury’s Top 50 ribbons.
In all, that’s 93 paintings singled out for honors. Which makes sense in a show where there were 434 accepted entries—a rather staggering number. Greenhouse is a large, gracious gallery with multiple generously sized rooms, but even with the works hung from floor to ceiling, it was packed to nearly overflowing. I visited the show a second time on Saturday evening and still would have liked to return again to spend even more time examining the works.
Another reason I imagine there were so many awards presented was simply that the level of quality was so uniformly high. Whether landscape, still life, or figurative, the paintings impressed me with the solid composition and drawing skills they exhibited. Many of them had special qualities of color, light, or “paint handling” (as Minoff put it) that turned common representational subject matter into something special and memorable.
Perhaps most notable was the fact that I “met” so many new artists by browsing through the gallery. Of the approximately 300 artists whose works were juried into the show, a large majority were unfamiliar to me. That confirms the prevailing wisdom in the art community that there are more talented, well-trained artists working today than perhaps at any time in recent memory, and their ranks continue to grow. Shows like Salon International—as well as Legacy Gallery’s Scottsdale Salon, the Oil Painters of America national show, and others—are doing an important service to the market by providing a launch pad of sorts for emerging artists across the country.
Still, there were some familiar names in the mix, too. Among them: Jonathan Ahn, who won the merit award for figurative work and who was featured in these pages two months ago; Elizabeth Robbins, who is featured this month on page 106; and Robert Spooner, the third-place winner for a piece called RED STUDIO SINK, which seems to be from the same series that is featured this month in a Show Preview on page 62. I’m impressed by the work Spooner is doing lately, just as I was impressed by my whole experience of the Salon International event.
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