An art salon was held on Sunday, October 20, in a private home in northwest Washington, D.C., for the works of visual artist, Edward McCluney. Below, Edward shares his favorite memories from this recent special event.
I removed sixty-four framed pieces from the walls of a collection numbering many more, and hung sixty-four pieces on the existing hooks. The hanging was a challenge with regards to spacing, grouping, and verticality, but I got it done nicely. There were also 34 matted works in two bins to complete the show.
In the spacious foyer of the home there were eight pieces showcasing the variety of medium and style in the show, which consisted of charcoals, pastels, and graphite drawings, some with mixed medium. There also were watercolors, oils, linocuts, woodcuts, and etchings. Easily seen while looking from the foyer to the far end of the hallway into the den hung a dominating 24×36 black-and-white linocut portrait of Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the close of the salon, two lawyers left, each having happily purchased a Marshall.
Along the upper hallway, before reaching the living or dining room doors, there were oil paintings, graphite drawings, and mixed-medium pieces. Together on one wall there were eight graphite renderings of trees that closely resembled human forms. On the opposite wall hung two oil paintings of dignified, engaging older woman, with Woman in Red Hat especially demanding and getting guests’ attention. The middle and lower sections of the extensive hallway contained 18 hanging pieces. Nudes on one wall faced even more graceful, fully dressed women on the move. There, a couple debated the merits of Patience and Meditation; the latter prevailed.
In the large living room on the right wall, there were two 26×20 charcoal drawings: The Reverend Wellons and Sister Elizabeth. The reverend’s eyes followed you wherever you were in the room, which proved to be irresistible to a couple who left with him and a Katrina drawing. Beyond the reverend on the same wall above the sofa hung the 30×18 linocut, Below the old Same place (yes, the old Same place), which was purchased by a guest who is originally from Vermont and felt that the old place was too familiar to pass up.
There were several other pieces in the living room, but none rivaled the nine 24×36 relief images in my Masters Suite. Nine American Masters is a portfolio of nine artists whom I consider to be absolute masters of their disciplines: James Baldwin, poet; Lena Horne, singer; Bill Cosby, actor; Toni Morrison, writer; James Earl Jones, actor; Benny Andrews, artist; Romare Bearden, artist; Alice Walker, writer; and Ella Fitzgerald, singer. They sat on the ledge of a wall-length, ceiling-high bookcase. The Ford Foundation; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and The National Center of the Museum of African American Art commissioned the portfolio for the Museum of African American Arts, Boston.
The theme in the dining room was Hurricane Katrina with two oils, two pastels, a watercolor, and a graphite drawing, all showing the power and effects of that storm. A guest, who had been intimately involved officially with the Katrina aftermath, purchased the Katrina watercolor. Also in the dining room, a graphite drawing titled, Tears for the Big Easy sold immediately, much to the chagrin of several guests.
Other hallways and rooms held images of buildings, machinery, dancers, and croquet players. There were interesting images of nudes in each of two bathrooms — one casually dressing behind a silk screen, another shyly embracing herself, and another joyously romping.
WC Fields was absolutely correct when he said, “Never work with a kid or a dog.” At the salon, the art was well received and appreciated. The company was excellent, the food superb, and the wine flowed, but it all paled in the glow of Benny, my five-year-old great nephew. Upon his arrival, Benny gave me a big hug and tagged along with me, greeting guests, giving opinions, and speculating. He shared the stage during my artist’s talk, and more than one person asked me if they might adopt him. Get in line on that. Benny topped off the afternoon by requesting a 3×2 etching on the living room wall. I asked him if he knew what the subject was. “A lady in a window,” he answered correctly. Why do you want that one, I asked him? “It’s pretty and little, like me,” he answered. I took the Mini Victorian off the wall, and Benny left the salon with his first art acquisition.