XOXO rediscovers the salon in the age of crowdsourcing

Salon-style exhibitions — in which artworks are hung very close together, covering walls from floor to ceiling — fell out of favor 100 years ago. Contemporary viewers are accustomed to seeing art surrounded by plenty of blankness. So XOXO Salon Show requires observational stamina. The Spray Booth Gallery’s aptly named installation of 118 pieces closes in on you, each one competing for attention. Really taking in an individual work means blocking out the others, which isn’t easy because gallery owner Andrew Lyles has placed everything just inches apart.

The emphasis on quantity mostly works, with the outdated salon style forming a kind of comment on the post-Web 2.0 era’s relentless sensory stimulation and unyielding data currents. The installation also feels democratic, with works by Charlotte Street awardees hanging next to student art, and a painting that sold for $5 (Abbe Findley’s 2-inch-square “Woman”) sharing a wall with one going for $1,000 (James Woodfill’s 24-inch-square “Salon Crop”).

Among the individual gems and inspired combinations of works here are Christina D. Prestidge’s “System Down,” a wall-hanging bundle of mylar and monofilament, and the visual echo it finds in Kate Smithson’s “Clump Spirit,” an abstract painting on paper. As at any other exhibition, then, patience is rewarded. And ocular fortitude, in this case, more so.

Categories: A&E