NEW YORK—Some of the best and greatest American living artists, both known and up-and-coming, are showing their work at the American Masters annual exhibition until Oct. 21 at the Salmagundi Club, one of the oldest art organizations in the country. A gala will be held on Friday, Oct. 14, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
More than 60 artists are participating, including returning artists Joseph McGurl, Burton Silverman, Christopher Blossom, Quang Ho, Curt Walters, C. W. Mundy, Sherrie McGraw, Carole Cooke, Nancy Tankersley, Patrick Saunders, and Michael Klein, as well as those new to the event, including Joshua LaRock, Joel Carson Jones, and Roger Dale Brown.
An art collector for over 25 years and chairman of the board for Salmagundi, Tim Newton started the annual exhibition eight years ago—tightly curating it, every year. “This put us back on the map. It’s a gallery equal to any venue further north on Fifth Avenue,” Newton said at a preview.
The exhibition is a fairly eclectic mix, with mostly landscapes or seascapes, about a dozen figure paintings, and another dozen still-life paintings. “If there’s a theme of the show, I would say it is quality. It needs to be a high level of craft and skill,” Newton said.
He gestured toward a Joseph McGurl painting that had a Hudson River School feel to it, still awaiting its frame. “His use of light is beyond belief. This is on a par with Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), one of the great painters of the American West, and beyond,” Newton said.
The exhibition also includes a painting by one of the greatest American landscape painters, Curt Walters. “His Grand Canyon pieces are just blockbusters,” Newton said.
Newton showed just as much excitement about the newcomers to American Masters. “It’s a thrill to have Joshua LaRock in the show,” Newton said. LaRock also had his work shown recently at the prestigious National Portrait Gallery in London.
Looking at a still life by another young artist, Michael Klein, Newton just shook his head in admiration. “He’s just got it, he’s just got it, a real young master,” he said.
While American Masters is a non-members exhibition, many artists who participate become Salmagundi Club members.
“The impact on the club has been wonderful,” Newton said. Since he started the exhibition, membership at Salmagundi has nearly doubled.
Newton’s original purpose was to have a show of American Masters not usually exhibiting in New York and to use the proceeds to begin a renovation fund to restore and renovate the main gallery—complete with state-of-the-art lighting, walls, and climate control. The Gala on Oct. 14 will help raise funds for further restoration of the Salmagundi’s historic 1853 brownstone mansion.
The first year of the show, in May 2008, the club sold $412,000 in art—prior to the financial crisis. “Now I can hardly contain my joy when I stand inside the Gallery … It has put the club back on the national map in the minds of artists and collectors,” Newton said.