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Pop Up’s brilliant ‘Salon Show’ is no simple rehash

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The Salon Show is no simple rehashing of styles that now rest comfortably in the analogs of art history, no mere nod to yesteryear.
Photo: Shannon McMackin

The Details

The Salon Show
Through March 24; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; free.
Pop Up Art House, 730 W. Sunset Road.

There was a moment during the crowded opening of The Salon Show at Pop Up Art House when a guest mentioned that some of the works seemed “derivative.” Sure, anyone could find references to Edward Hopper’s realism, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s primitive style, Ed Ruscha’s minimal renderings, early Spanish Christian art and crazy, crazy Fauvism.

Mark Brandvik

But that was sort of the point. In fact, artists were encouraged to submit contemporized “takes on landscape, portraiture, still life and other traditional subject matter.” Not all the works fit the adjective “derivative,” but as a whole, it looked almost like a throwback show, which seemed a bold move for a gallery praised unabashedly for mounting supremely contemporary exhibits and installations.

"The Meddlers" by Jason Adkins

But this was no simple rehashing of styles that now rest comfortably in the analogs of art history, no mere nod to yesteryear. That’s hardly the M.O. of Shannon McMackin, the Martha Stewart of gallerists. By design, The Salon Show celebrates traditional art forms that McMackin says are shunned in today’s contemporary art world. But these artists took it to another level, and the exhibit itself seemed an artwork of its own—a contemporary installation (or semi-historical re-enactment) of the centuries-old salon-style exhibit, complete with traditions that accompanied the old exhibit form, including a gazette of prose and articles by local and national writers.

Jevijoe Vitug

Then there was the diversity of the art: works by 24 local and national artists—students, emerging and established—mixed together to incite discussion on traditional vs. avant-garde. For fun, a gift shop played on the branding of today’s large museums by selling stylish merchandise with the gallery’s acronym. Whether an exhibit or a work of art in itself, The Salon Show was perfectly executed.

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