A trip through the back rooms of the Benjaman Gallery on Elmwood Avenue, where paintings and other prized objects from its extensive collection crowd almost every inch of available floor and wall space, is enough to make any art lover swoon. Ordinarily, the relative tidiness of the gallery’s main exhibition space belies the disarray of its back rooms.
But in “Salon: An Exhibition of Everything,” opening Friday and running through Jan. 18, that charmingly overcrowded vibe will seep into the gallery proper. The show will feature an immense trove of paintings and antiques from the gallery’s nearly half-century of collecting installed salon-style, cramming every available spot. The art ranges from prints and originals by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Charles Burchfield and Salvador Dali to fresh pieces by local contemporary artists Felice Koenig and Shasti O’Leary Soudant.
The gallery’s hope is to use proceeds from the exhibition, for which the bulk of works are priced between $50 and $500, to fund the renovation of its second-floor gallery space, which will eventually host contemporary art shows. The exhibition also is a launching pad for a new monthly series of events in the style of classic French salons, for which artists will gather to talk about new or dreamed-of projects. The first of the events – called “Salons Nuit” – will be announced during Friday’s opening from 6 to 9 p.m. as part of the Holiday Open Studios and Galleries event. Call 886-0898 or visit www.thebenjamangallery.com.
– Colin Dabkowski