It was a Friday night. The museum was hopping. It felt like it was the number one night club of Barcelona by the time the award ceremonies commenced at the official opening of the exhibition this past November 20th. This elegant museum, the renovated 18th Castle Gomis, was converted into a museum by the founder and director of the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art), José Manuel Infiesta, who is also a famous architect with 300 buildings to his credit. The museum is a glorious building in which to display the art. Located in the fashionable Old Town District of El Borne, in Barcelona, just a few steps away from the Picasso Museum, (whose attendance was empty in comparison) in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the location could not be better. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 attended the official opening. The rooms were so crowded at one point, that if you were an art lover, you had some trouble seeing the paintings and it felt like you were at the cocktail party of the season. However, if you listened to what was being said, everyone was talking about the art; this new and revolutionary movement of Contemporary Realism that is taking the art world by storm. These contemporary depictions of our shared humanity executed with an uncompromisingly high level of skill, combined with ground breaking subject matter and composition, is evidence of a major shift taking place in the art world. People are responsive and falling in love once again with realism, a very contemporary realism. These are paintings that could only be painted now, and the "newness" of seeing so many contemporary works painted realistically, by modern artists, had a surprising and inspiring impact on the crowd. The rooms were electric with energy; the place sizzled.
"This exhibition is a major historical event between Europe and the United States, the first collaboration of Contemporary Realist Art to be had between the continents and the largest exhibition of its kind taken from the best of nearly 5,000 entries in the two competitions," said the ARC Chairman, Fred Ross, in his address at the start of the awards ceremony.
The two exhibitions comprise over 150 paintings and sculptures. Seventy-six works make up the Art Renewal Center's portion of the show and these were displayed on the glamorous walls and halls of the formal first floor. The MEAM's Figurativas exhibition was held on the second floor. The lighting and hanging of the works was exceptional and well thought out by Lucas Arce and José Manuel Infiesta.
We must give a huge thanks to Kara Lysandra Ross, ARC's Chief Operating Officer, to whom most of the credit goes for making this exhibition possible. Wearing many hats, she curated and secured the 76 works from the ARC 2014/2015 ARC Salon, organizing collaborations with the artists, the MEAM, and the Salmagundi Club where the works will be exhibited in January. Another huge thanks goes to José Manuel Infiesta, who hosted the show in his MEAM museum in Barcelona. Mr. Infiesta, like our own Chairman of ARC, Fred Ross, is a leader in the realist movement, devoted to realism and a collector of Contemporary Realism as well, adding between 50 and 60 works to their permanent collection each year. He founded his own organization in 2005, The Foundation of Art and Artists, which led to the Figurativas Competition and to the acquiring of the building which became the MEAM Museum in 2011. The Figurativas Competition, like the Art Renewal Center's Competition, is international. Kara Ross and José Infiesta, who both realized the common ground and goals of our two organizations, began a dialogue and over a year later, after much hard work, this first exhibition came into being. It will not be the last.
Fred Ross dedicated the full cooperation of his organization (ARC) and was 100% behind this collaboration of making the show a reality. At the outset of the award ceremony, Ross delivered perhaps his most inspiring and important speech to date, reflecting 40 years of research, thought and analysis "What is Fine Art and Why Realism" which was extremely well received by the audience. The core of his thesis is that Fine Art as a form of human communication is best understood as a visual language which can only be successful if the vocabulary and grammar of that language is understood by those who view the work. Therefore only realism, which is made up of objects and figures from the real world, is capable of communicating our shared humanity. Most of his words are published in this year's ARC Salon catalog and the speech itself will be soon posted on the ARC website www.artrenewal.org along with a full video of the award ceremony. You can find Mr. Ross's most popular addresses, which makes up the core of the ARC philosophy by clicking here: www.artrenewal.org/articles/Philosophy/Why_Realism/why_realism.php. His words set the mood for handing out the awards to our ARC winners. The award officials on the dais for the ceremony were José Manuel Infiesta, Fred Ross, Tim Newton from the Salmagundi Club, Best in Show winning artist, Arantzazu Martinez and art scholar/author, ARC Judge, and museum director Dr. Vern Swanson.
At one point during the ceremony, Dan Graves, owner and Director of the Florence Academy, asked to stop the proceedings to specifically thank "...the two men more than any others who are responsible for how successful the new realist art movement has become, José Infiesta and Frederick Ross. We are ten to twenty years ahead of where we would have been without their help and committed and dedicated involvement..."
After the ARC Award Ceremony, the MEAM held their award ceremony. By 10:00 pm (early by European standards) the pianist arrived, the cocktails kept circulating and, yes, it had become a party!
The next morning, the 21st of November, the MEAM held the Joint Forum of Artists, to an audience of over 100 artists with a panel group in place to help answer and stimulate questions. The panel was made up of, José Manuel Infiesta, Frederick Ross, Arantzazu Martinez, Danial Graves and Dr. Vern Swanson. The forum commenced with an informative 40 minute film that revealed the process of how the Figurativas Competition is judged. The judges included well-known artists such as Odd Nerdrum and Lita Cabellut. Infiesta then handed Fred Ross the microphone and Fred posed an open discussion to the audience. The dialogue between panelists and audience went on for nearly two hours and you could tell it could have continued longer from the excitement in the room. Much was discussed, everything from the place of spirituality in art, art's purpose, authenticity to one's art and how to make use of new technologies to get the word out...its pros and cons.
We must also take a moment to thank the staffs of both our organizations for the work and help they put into making this project so successful. Special thanks go on ARC's side to Kara Lysandra Ross, Frank Gatti, Michele Carnevale, Yvette Lytle, and Sabrina Foland. And from the MEAM museum we at ARC give additional thanks to Lucas Arce and Maria Budó Miró. We also want to remind everyone that the show will continue in Barcelona until the 28th of December and that 40 of the 76 winning works in the ARC show are for sale. You can see which works are for sale by clicking here: www.artrenewal.org/articles/MEAM_sale.php and can write to Michele Carnevale at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and questions about purchasing. Price lists are also available at the MEAM museum. The 2014/2015 ARC Salon Catalog, which is 264 pages and includes images of all 789 finalists as well as Fine Art Defined written by Fred Ross, which covers most of the important points he gave at the TRAC convention in CA and at the MEAM/ARC award ceremony, is also available in our ARC store by clicking here: www.arc-store.com/11in20arcsac.html. This catalogue is also available at the MEAM Museum bookstore and will be available at the Salmagundi Club in January.
With the mention of the Salmagundi Club, we can tell you there is so much more to look forward to here in the US. The ARC portion of the show, currently exhibiting in Barcelona, will be packed up and sent to the Salmagundi Club in New York City for a three week exhibition that will include seven additional events to be held at the show over its three week run. The Salmagundi Club is one of the oldest artist clubs in America with a rich history that includes such noteworthy names such as John Singer Sargent, Edmund Tarbell and Wm Merritt Chase among many others. So for those who were not able to attend the exhibition in Barcelona and who will be in the tristate area between January 18 and February 4th, you will be able to see the exhibition and participate in one or more the 7 planned events. The Salmagundi Club is located at 47 Fifth Avenue, NYC, New York, 10003. Phone #: 212-255-7740, website: www.salmagundi.org.
ARC will be offering several lectures and educational events during the time the ARC exhibition will be at the Salmagundi Club. As stated, the show will leave Barcelona the end of December and be opened to the public at Salmagundi from January 18th until February 4th. ARC Chairman, Frederick Ross, will give a lecture on The Visual Language of Realism on January 20th, and there will be a collaboration and presentation by the Da Vinci Initiative, whose mission is to bring skill-based techniques, like those embodied in the works on display at the ARC Salon, to art teachers and students in K-12 classrooms across the country. They have already had amazing success in the two short years since it was started by Kara Lysandra Ross and Amanda Hallenius. The Da Vinci Initiative is planning a special forum for high-school teachers and students on the atelier training method and its benefits for those interested in a professional career in art. The famous artists and illustrators Julie Bell, and David Palumbo, will give a joint talk on what it's like working as successful artists in the fine art world as well as in the gaming industry and in book illustration. Amanda Hallenius, artist, art educator and co-founder of the Da Vinci Initiative with Kara Lysandra Ross and the President of the Da Vinci Initiative, will give a 2 hour painting demonstration on January 31. Tickets will be on sale/ RSVP through the ARC website and all proceeds will help fund ARC and help pay for the costs of running the show. Again, many of the works of art on display at the Salmagundi Club will be for sale. A price list will be available at the show and you can see the list of works of art available at: www.artrenewal.org/articles/MEAM_sale.php or you can write to Michele Carnevale at email@example.com for pricing and any questions about purchasing.
Below is a list of the dates and costs of tickets and a full list of lectures and demonstrations taking place during the ARC Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club. Click on the titles for further information on each category and check in at ARC, www.artrenewal.org, for continual updates.
ARC Chairman Fred Ross: The Visual Language of Realism - January 20, 2016
Public Opening Artist Meet and Greet - January 23, 2016
The Da Vinci Initiative (DVI) - January 26, 2016
DVI Presents Atelier Training as a College Alternative - January 28, 2016
Wine and Art - January 30, 2016
Artist demo by Amanda Hallenius, President of the DVI -January 31, 2016
Julie Bell and David Palumbo: Fine art, Illustration and the Gaming Industry - February 1, 2016
Donate to the Art Renewal Center