REVIEW: WSG Gallery Autumn Salon

The WSG Gallery is currently running their Autumn Salon, a show true to the salon spirit with works stacked up to its ceilings. It’s a format I don’t see as much in museums and galleries, but one I think should still have its place in art display. While one doesn’t meditate quite as much on singular pieces, the collage of work displays both the variety and also the more general themes and techniques used by these local artists. This makes for a rich display of individual and community artistic sensibilities.


There was an interesting mix of art forms, especially seen in the abstract sculptures found in the window. In a gallery where two dimensional works tower over you, finding common ground with some three dimensional forms creates a more dynamic, engaging experience as one has moments to appreciate the translation of different artistic principles and elements (like color, shape, and form) to a completely different manifestation of creativity.


As I have a personal history of learning and preferring figure drawing and painting, the figural work on display consistently stood out to me. One artist that stands out is Nora Venturelli, a professor at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Their rhythmic, daring compositions and color schemes attracted my eye, and I found their work to be really engaging. I never get tired of playing with human contours and movement in my own work, so to see a take using bolder color and thoughtful paint application was really enjoyable for me.

pictured: Nora Venturelli, Vice Versa, no. 48


Lastly, Maria Ruggiero’s Hillside Houses, Tuscany stood out to me. What’s so interesting about this piece is the layering of different paint strokes and application patterns, and the way Ruggiero does so in a way that is evidently done with considerations to atmospheric perspective inso that these different techniques work together to create unity rather than falling apart. I’m not really a landscape person, but this work definitely takes the concept to a different place, offering playful technique and lively color that convinces viewers to linger just a little bit longer.


pictured: Maria Ruggiero, Hillside Houses, Tuscany


I encourage students and community members alike to go take a look at what’s being offered at the WSG Gallery and get a feel for some of the art being produced out of Ann Arbor and the surrounding area. The show closes November 23rd; go enjoy the last remnants of fall while you can!

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!