At The Salmagundi Club

by Robert Sievert

 
  Last summer I visited my sister in a hospital. Her roommate was an artist and very enthused to meet me, another artist. We chatted about this and that. There was a computer in the common area and I showed her my paintings that were on Etaoin.com.

She asked me why wasn't I a member of the Salmagundi Club?

My image of the Salmagundi Club was that of a building on fifth Avenue That was had something to do with watercolors. I thought it was founded by an Italian watercolorist, you know, Sal Magundi. My charming new acquaintance gave a Billie Burke giggle and said "Oh no, Everyone thinks that."

Actually the term SALMAGUNDI goes back to the American Tranendentialist, perhaps Emerson. The term means "a little some thing of everything." The club was started in the Nineteenth century when A group of Artists and bohemians began to meet every Friday. From there sprang an ongoing association that professed high minded projects.

Amongst the early members was Stanford White whose libidinous rampages have never ceased to be written about and detailed. A fabulous film "The Girl On The Red Velvet Swing" detailed his affair with beauty and artist model Evelyn Nesbitt. (circa 1950) starring Farely Granger and Joan Collins Do you think they met at the club?

At the urging of my new friend I applied . I had to send a $100. Application Fee. I had to be endorsed by three members. The club Fees were about $700.a year and you would get to be exhibited with their membership.

I waited and waited. I found out that I was accepted when my $100 check was cashed. Three weeks later I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview" We like to meet our new members"

I was greatly enthused when I first visited the club. There was an exhibition of some privately owned Constables.(see artezine#4) The gallery was large and covered with gray carpet, floors and walls. The art was inspiring and I looked forward to seeing more art.

The building itself was quite old. A brownstone mansion with four floors nestled around a swooping stair that snaked up through the building. Each floor had a grand landing that opened into surrounding rooms.It definitely had a feeling of an older era when things were different. Dark woodwork and light walls that now wore a dinge of age. The paintings on the wall were quite good; previous members work that seemed to come out of the ashcan era. .

However the next show I saw there was unbelievably inept. It was a show of a special section of the club COGAP which had a special relationship with the Coast Guard. The paintings were mostly copies of photographs of the Coast Guard in action. So poor were these paintings my head spun. There were absolutely no signs of skill or imagination in this work.

The night of my appointment to meet the interviewing committee came and I carefully composed myself with relevant facts about my professional career. I arrived twenty minutes before my appointment. I sat in the main hall with other applica