Nineteenth-century Parisian art exhibitions were tightly controlled by the Academie des Peinture et Sculpture, and if an artist didnt agree with that institutions principles they werent permitted to show.
In opposition to that censorship, the Societé des Artistes Indépendants was formed in 1884 with a policy that did away with jury requirements and awards of any kind. Among others, artists such as Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac took part in the Societés first show, and in years to follow the list of exhibiting independent artists grew to include Braque, Buffet, Chagall, de Chirico, Giacometti, Kandinsky, Matisse, Miró, Modigliani and Mondrian an impressive list to say the least. Where would art be today if these pioneers didnt have a chance to show their work, inspire other artists and generate new movements?
In the spirit of those iconoclasts and as part of the Durango Showcase of the Arts taking place Sept. 10-19, the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery will play host to a Salon des Indépendants featuring 23 artists who currently are not represented at galleries in La Plata County: not because their work isnt good enough, but because they dont meet the local market profile.
Galleries in a tourist town such as Durango and most ski resort communities almost never show things they cant sell, which from a business standpoint makes perfect sense. From an artistic perspective that means unless the subject of the work is a southwestern landscape, tribal or western themed or wildlife, it will have only a limited opportunity to be shown or sold.
On Sept. 10, an artist reception will be held to inaugurate our version of the Salon des Indépendants, a broad-range exhibition of mixed-media work by local artists. Sculpture, pottery, painting and textile pieces will fill the FLC art gallery, giving people the opportunity to meet the creators of, and be exposed to, an array of art ranging from figurative and realistic to abstract and expressionistic.
These exhibiting artists were chosen by a committee of peers and then invited to participate in the show. Not unlike the original Salon, the show provides artists who are not seen locally with the chance to present their work and stimulate the sensibility of everyone interested in art.
All the work will be for sale, and the show will be on view Sept. 6-27. The opening reception promises to be an exciting opportunity for art lovers to meet the artists and discuss their work and perhaps even discover the next breakthrough artist. Many creative people in the Four Corners work in semi-obscurity; some explore controversial issues and new techniques, while others are more traditional, but few have gained the exposure or the recognition needed to make them a star.
Lets hope the Salon becomes a tradition in Durango and that well-executed artwork, no matter the subject, is given a chance to be seen and collected.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and nationally. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.