Behind the Art: Salon XLIII Artwork & Posters
Learn More About the Inspiration & Design of Each Poster for New London's Highly-Anticipated Annual Art Exhibition
By Bridney C.
The Salon des Independants show is a well-known annual exhibition in New London, Connecticut that features original art ranging from the sublime to the outrageous. Over its 40 year history, the annual art extravaganza has grown from an anti-establishment visual art show to a multi-media arts festival. The Salon show, as it is popularly called is entering its 43rd year in 2022.
The annual art exhibition, established in 1979, allowed local artists to exhibit their work without fear of censorship or judgment. The original owners of the former Hygienic Restaurant allowed local artists to showcase their art.
The New London art show borrows its namesake and motto from the original Salon des Independants, established in 1884 by impressionist artists in France. Those artists were excluded from the Royal Academy art exhibitions because their style was not accepted by society.
Three artists submitted posters to be used for marketing the showcase. Kim Abraham, Jacqueline Phillips, and Lynda McLaughlin created the posters featuring the iconic Hygienic lobster. The lobster is a popular logo and mascot for Hygienic Art, and the original sign for the Hygienic restaurant featured a lobster.
Jacqueline Phillips, an artist out of Norwich, Connecticut, has been making and donating her art for the Salon des Independants poster for thirty years. Her painting for this year’s Salon show took more than 10 hours to complete and was created with pastel paint.
The piece is based on an original painting titled At the Theater by Mary Cassatt, an American artist who spent most of her adult years in France and was a figure in the impressionist movement. “Her painting of a woman, attentive at the theater, was created in 1879. Of course, she is wearing her finest clothes for the event,” says Jacqueline.
Jacqueline takes a well-known impressionist painting and “adapts” it to fit the Hygienic Art theme, often incorporating one or more lobsters. Most impressionist pieces direct the viewer’s attention by focusing on abstract subjects that otherwise would not be seen at first glance.
“I find it to be evocative of the feelings one has the first time they see a play on Broadway or their first opera. The anticipation of the lady in the painting parallels the anticipation that we all have for the Salon des Independants,” says Jacqueline.
The second poster, illustrated by Kim Abraham depicts two dancing lobsters celebrating life and not being boiled. Utilizing the iconic lobster mascot, she considers the Salon de Independants show as an art holiday.
“The title, ‘say no to pot’ is a Gen X reference to my childhood, Nancy Regan, and not getting boiled. Who knows about the future, the temperature is rising. Today, we dance,” says Kim.
Each lobster took an hour to finish, while the art piece took a few weeks to complete. The inspiration behind the painting was the desire to slather different colors next to each other. For Kim, it is a sensual experience.
“I make a background by layering colors… I want eyeballs to dance. Then I sit and think about the creature that would enjoy that place.”
The third art piece, by Lynda McLaughlin, features a lobster constellation with a Van Gough-like night sky in the background. McLaughlin’s work is eye-catching and vibrant - proving that less is indeed more. The name, Vinnie is located in the lower-left corner in honor of one of the founders and president of Hygienic Art.
And will each artist enter in a piece for this year’s show? Yes!
Each artist plans on participating and is excited to showcase their work. “I enjoy being able to create a more edgy piece of art, incorporating a sense of humor,” says Jacqueline.