Mary McClelland, gallery manager at South Shore Arts, is impressed by the diversity of material in Salon Show this year.
"It's a good balance of realism and abstract art," she said. "I can look at two pieces that are very abstract and very contemporary, then I look across the room in the gallery and see a primitive figure. I definitely like this balance between the two, and I don't know that I've seen a balance like this before."
This year marks the 69th annual South Shore Arts' Salon Show. South Shore celebrates its opening with a reception and awards ceremony at the Munster gallery Sunday.
The origins of the show can be traced back to the 1930s, when nearly a dozen area artists came together and showcased an exhibit at Hammond's Minas Department Store. In 1944, the show was recrafted as a Salon Show and has been an annual tradition for South Shore Arts, as well as for artists in and beyond the region, since.
To be eligible for inclusion, artists must be at least 18 years of age, born in or a current resident of Indiana, born in or work in Cook County or a member of South Shore Arts.
This year saw South Shore Arts receive original two- and three-dimensional works, crossing a myriad of medium and styles, by 127 artists. Of those, works by 42 artists were selected.
The juror of South Shore's 2012 Salon Show is Daniel Schulman. Reared in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, Schulman received his bachelor's degree in art from Columbia University in New York and his master's degree from the New York University Institute of Fine Arts.
Over the years, Schulman has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at the School of the Art Institute, and has served as curator for exhibits at esteemed venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York. He currently serves as the program director for visual art for the City of Chicago's department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
"I think what he's brought to the show this year is a really broad spectrum," McClelland said. "Knowing contemporary art and having a wide range of exposure to different art forms from outsider art to high art, as some people would like to call it, he really dug deep and put together a real interesting show.
"From what he explained to me, he's interested in seeing somebody whose doing something that everybody else isn't doing."
Schulman said he was impressed by the art selected for this year's South Shore show.
"One is never completely sure what the backgrounds of the artists are. In most cases, you don't know the names of the artists," he said. "But there is a lot of wonderful work in this exhibition, I think. (The art) is very diverse, and I think what I chose probably reflects a bit of my own sensibilities. That's inevitable, and that's why you get a different judge every year. "
Of the pieces submitted, Schulman noted a heavy presence of two–dimensional pieces over three–dimensional pieces. In terms of subject matter, he saw a running theme through many of the works.
"A lot of the artists came to address issues of the environment and landscape and observing daily life," he said. "There were wonderful pieces that looked at the environment and not in any kind of preachy way, which I thought was affirmable and interesting.
Schulman also admitted to getting a chuckle out of some of the works presented to him.
"There was a lot of irony and humor in people's works which does something to me," he said. "I think it's a quality in artwork that's maybe not given enough weight or value. Humor can be used to make serious points. Comedy is a high art."
The awards ceremony for this year's show is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday. A total of 21 awards will be given this year — including $10,000 in cash prizes.
"I think the reason we get the pool of interest that we get is because of our donors and the monetary support that we get from our sponsors and individual donors," McClelland said. "We have a wonderful prize purse, and we wouldn't have that if it weren't for the support we receive. The bottom line is that's going to attract anybody."