Virtuosos of the OPA in New York
I returned from New York on Monday after attending the opening of the Virtuosos of the OPA (Oil Painters of America) held at the Salmagundi Club. This was an invitational show for OPA Signature and Master Signature artists. I was one of the artists included in the show, but I was also there in my capacity as Treasurer and Executive Board member of the OPA, arriving on Tuesday so that I could assist my colleagues Kathryn Beligratis (Executive Director) and Ken Cadwalleder (President) in hanging the show, and in any other arrangements necessary before the opening on Thursday evening.
It was held at the Salmagundi Club, the oldest arts club in the nation located in an historic 1853 brownstone building on Fifth Avenue near Washington Square. Ken, Kathryn and I were there on Wednesday morning to meet the truck that was delivering the paintings from a warehouse in Brooklyn, where they had been received and assembled from around the country. It took the entire day to arrange and hang the show. One new feature we added for this exhibit was a biography and photo of each artist on plastic laminate that was placed next to each painting.
On Thursday we made final arrangements in preparation for the opening that evening, then Ken and I took the subway to the Hispanic Society on the far north side. This stunning neoclassical building houses a collection of Spanish masterpieces, but is best known for the many paintings of Jaquin Sorolla. I consider him one of the three greatest masters of naturalistic/impressionistic painting, along with John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn. A trip to the Hispanic Society is an essential pilgrimage for artists like Ken and me, and we were duly overwhelmed by the brilliance and monumental ambition of Sorolla's work.
We were very pleased with the turnout for the reception. It was in the hundreds and included many of the exhibiting artists from out of town. The show had been well publicized in New York art publications and even on the giant Jumbotron in Times Square.
Tim Newton, Chairman of the Samagundi Club, served as the juror of awards for the show. I was happy to see some of the winners receive well deserved recognition, such as Michele Usibelli with the silver medal and Albin Velselka with the bronze. Albin was there to receive the medal and joined us for dinner that night.
Other events over the weekend included a plein air paint out. Artists gathered
at Washington Square Friday morning, and at Central Park on Saturday. Friday evening OPA Master Signature artist Everett Raymond Kinstler gave a presentation on his long and illustrious career as a portrait painter. He has painted innumerable celebrities and every president of the United States from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. He had many stories and insights about these individuals, almost all of whom had been painted from live sittings. His painting in the show was a wonderful full length portrait of the author Tom Wolf.
On Saturday evening we had dinner at the White Oaks Tavern followed by the Broadway show The Lion King. Afterwards we were given a backstage tour arranged by one of the artists in the OPA show, Ellen Buselli. She lives in New York and has a generous friend who is the keyboard musician for The Lion King.
On Sunday we organized a group outing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the John Singer Sargent exhibition. This is one of the artists I most admire and the show did not disappoint, especially since it contained paintings I had never seen before either in person or in print. I than took in as much of the museum as I could in the time that remained before I had to head to the airport. It left me, as always, inspired, humbled……and itching to paint.