The storied New York City club is branching out to California and elsewhere, with a new push for plein air work. What’s new with the Salmagundi Club?
The art club, headquartered in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, is hosting plein air paint-outs in Southern California and the New York City area, and the organization is looking to expand even further, with offshoots in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. “We need to start off with at least one person from the club in each area,” says Roger Rossi, an official with the Salmagundi Club. “We’re spreading out beyond New York City. We need members to host these, but their friends who want to participate don’t have to be Salmagundi Club members.”

Salmagundi members tour the Old Holland paint factory.

Indeed, the paint-outs have been called “Salmagundians and Their Friends,” and the concept has even made its way across the Atlantic Ocean. “Three of us were on the Rhine Art Cruise recently that was organized by Fine Art Connoisseur,” says Rossi. “And we’re planning a Bordeaux trip in the fall with Fine Art Connoisseur, sailing the Rhone River and flying to London to tour galleries and museums. We’ll paint throughout the wine region, down through the Loire Valley, hitting some of the large chateaus. It’s a fun group to go out painting with, and why not go out with a group with such a strong name associated with them, like Salmagundi?”
The expansion of activities seems to serve three main purposes: to spread the name of the Salmagundi Club, to dispel the notion that it is exclusively a New York institution, and to find new members. “Some of the people who have been participating in the paint-outs go on to become members, so we are building membership,” says Rossi. “Artists realize that being a member helps to promote their work. They can put the Salmagundi name on their resume, exhibit at the club, occasionally win an award, and be able to approach a gallery with a little more confidence from knowing that they are part of a juried organization with a long history. It is a step forward. It can help build their careers.”

Roger Rossi painting en plein air along the Rhine

Evidently some modern masters and Salmagundi Club members, among them Richard Schmid, Don Demers, and Joseph McGurl, decided that being associated with the club is worth their while. And why not? This is the art club where folks such as William Merritt Chase, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Childe Hassam, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell, and Sanford White talked shop, played pool, and dined together.

A recent location for the California branch of the Salmagundi Club, the Lily Pond at Balboa Park in San Diego

Meanwhile, in California, Salmagundi Club member Grace Schlesier has already hosted several paint-outs and has a schedule shaping up for January and beyond. “Everyone is excited, and we had an awesome day with some awesome painters in the very first paint-out,” she reports. “We gathered at the Lily Pond in Balboa Park in San Diego.”

Salmagundi members and their friends at a recent California paint-out

The word “salmagundi” refers to a dish with disparate ingredients, and it’s derived from a French word meaning “hodgepodge.” The founding members of the Salmagundi Club may have been expressing pride at their diverse membership when they gave the organization its name. Today’s Salmagundi Club seems to embrace this same spirit, and is pursuing it in active fashion.


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