Of Salons, Napoleons and Art in Sarasota

Todays News


In 1667, the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris hosted its first official exhibition, establishing what would become known simply as The Salon. As the arrogance of the name suggests, organizers and overdressed attendees quickly established themselves as the premier art snobs of the European world, and, for near 200 years, entry into The Salon became a sign of royal favor and a necessary step to having any sort of artistic career in France.

This is exactly the attitude that Marianne Chapel, founder of M Chapel Projects/SPAACES, a community-minded art center, wants to destroy with her latest exhibition La Salon Tout Inclus, or “The All-Inclusive Exhibition.” Opening November 2 at 6pm at M Chapel Projects on Princeton Street, the show features 53 local and regional artists of varying experience and medium, each submitting one work for consideration.

Because though the Academie served to promote certain artists, tastes in the institution quickly became harshly conservative, rejecting works even from the likes of Cezanne, Manet and Whistler. Guardians became gatekeepers, stifling artistic evolution instead of nurturing it. And in 1863, the Academie turned away all avante garde work entirely.

“And we still have a similar bent in the art world,” says Chapel. Galleries and museums can also have a gatekeeping effect, she says, and don’t always reflect the full artistic and cultural diversity that can be found in the communities they inhabit. But with La Salon Tout Inclus, Chapel brings artists from all walks together for one show that aims to reflect all these different angles. Attendees will find established mid-career artists like Tim Jaeger next to a name they may never have heard of—an emerging artist or just a hobbyist who wants to share their work. A few artists rejected the call, she says, worried about the fallout from showing with amateurs, but more enthusiastically agreed. "The show's purpose is to speak to the community about inclusivity in the art world," says Chapel. "To make art be for all."

It’s a page out of Napoleon—the third, to be exact (a lesser Napoleon, perhaps, but a Napoleon nonetheless). Reacting to popular protest following the Academie’s decision in 1863, Napoleon III offered a solution in a separate exhibition—the Salon des Refuses—an alternative space for alternative art. Crowds came from far and wide to mock the rejected work, but it ultimately became a freeing event, elevating and unleashing avant garde sensibilities upon the world.

Chapel hopes there will be no mockery when visitors come to La Salon Tout Inclus, however. Presented salon-style within the industrial space, all 53 works dominate one wall of the gallery, displayed as part of a great group, as opposed to individually demarcated creations. “So at first it’s like one unified experience, which is what I’m hoping for—one arts community,” says Chapel. “But then you get closer, and you see Rob Tarbell, Grace Howl and you can find these treasures. All of these individuals make up one community.”

Opening November 2, 6pm with a reception at M Chapel Projects at 2087 Princeton Street, Sarasota, La Salon Tout Inclus will be on display for roughly one week, closing down on the following Saturday.

Pictured: Installation in progress for "La Salon Tout Inclus." Photo courtesy of M Chapel Projects/SPAACES.

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