REVIEW: WSG Autumn Salon

On a mildly dismal Friday afternoon in Ann Arbor, I braved the bitingly cold winter currents to trek over to the Autumn Salon exhibition presented by the WSG Gallery on S Main. The idea behind Autumn Salon‘s clustered arrangement originates from the famed Salon de Paris, in which artwork is hung from every available space in the gallery, pinched together in forced dialogue in their nearly floor-to-ceiling occupancies. Not only was the Salon de Paris considered the greatest Western art event of its time, during 1748 to 1890 France, its signature method of exhibition was also adopted as the focus of many painted works of the century.  As I wandered through the WSG modern-day interpretation, a visual mingling of color, medium, and style, I could sense a similar cohesion of artistic energy that flowed throughout the gallery space.

I had the chance to speak with Adrienne Kaplan, a WSG member known for her large and expressive painted portraits of human faces – she informed me that there was no intentional ‘theme’ to Autumn Salon besides that of the mode of exhibition resembling the original Salon de Paris. Nevertheless, as I made my way around the maze of closely hung artworks, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern between the selected works – many depicted the essences of nature, the human figure, or both, with some utilizing the repetition of organic forms found in the natural world as motifs and/or inspiration.

Among those that I found myself most drawn to were two works by WSG Visiting Artist Helen Gotlib: Water Garden V and Water Garden VII. Both pieces consisted of woodblock prints accented with gold leaf and presented on hand-dyed paper. Compared to the boisterous energy emanating from neighboring exhibition walls, these two pieces instilled within me a sense of peace and calm. As I observed the endless ellipses and fingerprint-like patterns formed by the woodblock prints, my eyes naturally began to travel, almost in a hypnotized state, up and around each aged tree ring until they were almost oscillating in rhythm to the tree’s ‘story’.

WSG member Lynda Cole is another artist whose work seems to explore organic forms and their repetition, almost through a hypnotic lens. Pictured here are images of her original digital drawing, Nautilus Ghost, and their placement in the exhibition – this piece immediately caught my attention for how well it epitomizes the, personally ephemeral, sensation of ‘floating’ – the mesh-like form seems to both cascade and twist into itself before disappearing into a flat void.Nautilus Ghost : original digital drawing printed with pigment ink on archival paper : various sizes : open edition

I left these two artists’ works and the beautifully overwhelming Autumn Salon with a vaguely fulfilled sense of loneliness – the exhibition made me feel swallowed in various different artistic voices for its clustered arrangement of works, and both Cole’s and Gotlib’s pieces visually engaged me much like an optical illusion would.


WSG Autumn Salon will be on view until November 23, 2019, so be sure to stop by the WSG Gallery to see these works and more in person!

Shannon Z

Shannon is a sophomore studying Art and Design and Philosophy. She routinely stalks various Instagram cat accounts, so stalk her back by checking out her work here:

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