Wild gift

Miles Hermann, “Gift Box,” charcoal and gesso on paper, 2002.

Miles Hermann, “Gift Box,” charcoal and gesso on paper, 2002.

Long ago and far away (think late 19th-century Paris), there was the salon. This was where you needed to be if you wanted to acquire good art. The French took the best pieces from the world’s greatest artists and hung the stuff in a way that’s now referred to as, well, salon style. This meant cramming walls with paintings, leaving little space between— canvases above and below as well as side by side.

Somehow, this approach worked. For the most part, though, contemporary galleries have gotten away from showing work this way and have opted for giving art a little room to breathe. Paintings are now hung in smaller galleries with sufficient surrounding room to take in the work. Although this is a fresh shift, there is still a time and a place for using the tried-and-true salon style.

Art Foundry Gallery has turned to this method for its December exhibit, probably because it would be hard to do this show any other way. “Hundreds of miniatures and masterpieces for under $700,” states the postcard advertisement. It’s quite an undertaking, so readers may think that it’s the usual jargon designed to entice customers.

Surprisingly, there’s no catch. Fifty artists, including such well-known ones as Miles Hermann, Mel Smothers, Paula Wenzl and Lareen Landau, have submitted pieces for this show. Many artists have several works on display. And, though one might worry that the pieces do not represent the strength of each artist because of the scope of the exhibit, it’s just the contrary. The work is remarkably good.