The annual South Shore Arts Salon show is a creative display tradition that has continued for decades.
This weekend, the event reaches a milestone, unveiling the 70th annual Salon Show starting Sunday.
The show is a tradition dating back to the 1930s, when 10 local artists gathered and showcased an exhibit in the Minas Department Store in downtown Hammond. After a brief hiatus during World War II, the exhibit resumed, and became known as "the Salon Show."
"For a not-for-profit arts organization, to be doing something that's gone on for 70 years, I think is a testament to the organization. There are a lot of businesses that haven't survived 70 years," said Mary McClelland, gallery manager of South Shore Arts.
The Salon Show is having its reception and award ceremony, free and open to the public, at 1 p.m. Sunday. This year's juror, Paul Klein, who was the Art Consultant/Curator for the McCormick Place West expansion in Chicago, not only decided what pieces would be displayed, but also the artists who would earn their share of $10,000 in cash awards. Among the prizes given is the Surovek Award of Excellence, which is the $2,000 prize given annually in memory of Helen V. Surovek.
McClelland said many of the artists come to the annual award ceremony and it serves as an incentive for others to make the trek.
"Let's say this gentleman comes [who made a particular piece of art], and you want to know about it," McClelland said.
"You can actually talk to the artist about their work. Ask, 'Why did you do this? What does it mean?' This show, in particular, provides a tremendous opportunity to the public because they can come in here and see everything from a metal sculpture to a bronze sculpture to paintings to drawings, photography and the variety and the diversity is just huge."
The diversity McClelland speaks of is partially evident in the large number of entries for this year's exhibit. More than 400 pieces of art by 160 different artists were submitted for the show, and 69 pieces by 64 artists are being presented.
The demographics of the artists represented are diverse as well, with the age of artists ranging from a gentleman in his 80s who made a bronze sculpture to individuals in their 20s who submitted paintings and drawings. The entrants are from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan areas, with most entrants from Northwest Indiana; however, other pieces are from artists farther away, including pieces from West Lafayette, Ind. and Champaign, Ill.
With this diversity, McClelland said she believes the show has something for everybody.
"I can't imagine that anyone would walk in here and say, 'I hate it all'," she said.
"They may not like every piece, but I can bet they are going to come in here and find at least one or two that they like."
McClelland said she felt each piece in the gallery was the product of a lot of hard work, and she enjoyed learning about the meaning behind some of the works.
"To sit and do this [art], I can't even fathom," she said. "So, I give a lot of credit to people who are very thoughtful in regards to their work."