Hygienic fest: Not new, but surely improved

Much like the Hygienic opening weekend last winter, this year's Ice Carnival in the Hygienic Art Park next to the gallery ought to be appropriately wintry.
Much like the Hygienic opening weekend last winter, this year's Ice Carnival in the Hygienic Art Park next to the gallery ought to be appropriately wintry.

O hallowed Hygienic Art Festival - thank you for taking the sting out of winter! And we'll need it more than ever now that the Blizzard of 2015 - known in some circles as "Juno" and others as "Colbie" and by me personally as "Big Duncan" - was even stronger than anticipated.

That light at the end of the tunnel is indeed Hygienic XXXVI, launching Friday and continuing with a variety of new and old events through Feb. 14.

Rich Martin, the managing director of Hygienic Art, Inc., and a long-time insider of the art show and its myriad tangential offerings, says part of the greatness of the Hygienic is that it's constantly evolving.

"Honestly, the whole process of this annual festival is always an inspiration and revealing in many ways," Martin says. "All sorts of things have arisen to support the many modes of expression we find in our community of artists. The last several years, Amy Hannum has run the Ice Carnival in the Art Park with friends that are part of the Burning Man community. It's an incredible new addition to the proceedings and we're never sure what they'll have up their sleeves."

Ditto for all of the other things going on - including poetry readings and fashion shows, a young artists' exhibit, a fashion show, indie film screenings, a hootenanny and a photography contest.

One of the bonus aspects of the festival's longevity is that, over time, a lot of participants and supporters have relocated - and make sure to highlight their calendars for this must-return weekend. Plus, they tell others about it.

"Yeah, a lot of Hygienic ambassadors have in fact moved away and spread the gospel, and so we do see many artists traveling from a distance to take part in the annual art show. As Hygienic Art as an organization has become a part of the family of arts leaders at the state level, too, we've seen a greater awareness and participation from all over Connecticut," Martin says.

One of the most popular Hygienic happenings has become the Saturday night Rock Fix, a several-band showcase whose year-in/year-out diversity does a spectacular job of demonstrating the array of styles in the much-heralded local music scene. This year's lineup is perhaps the strongest yet - something Martin is proud of. On the bill are much-heralded new acts WolfGhost, The 3-Pack and Marvelous Liars. They'll share the evening with old faves The Rivergods and The Can Kickers - with Philadelphia touring band The Lawsuits also onboard.

"You never know when it could be the last go around, so as a promoter you strive to make the best possible show given the current state of the scene," he says. "The karma is definitely with us this time."

One recent addition to the Hygienic events is the fashion show of creations by local and regional designers in Crocker House Ballroom in New London.
One recent addition to the Hygienic events is the fashion show of creations by local and regional designers in Crocker House Ballroom in New London.

Hygienic at a glance

Salon des Independants
Opens 7 p.m. Saturday,
runs through Feb. 14
Hygienic Galleries, 79 Bank St.

Hygienic Young Artists Expo
Saturday and Sunday,
noon-4 p.m.
Garde Art Gallery, 305 State St.

The Hygienic Hootenanny
Friday, 7-10 p.m.
Hygienic Galleries, 79 Bank St.

The Rock Fix
Saturday, 7 p.m.-midnight
Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union St.

Cabaret Extraordinaire
Saturday, 8 p.m.-midnight
33 Golden St.

Hygienic Photo-gienic: Fairytales
Feb. 6, 6-8 p.m.
Expressiones, 84 Bank St.

Fashion in the Ballroom
Feb. 6, 8 p.m.
Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union St.

Mayfly Playhouse 24
Feb. 7, 8 p.m.
Crocker House Ballroom,
35 Union St.

First Word/Last Word
First Word: Saturday, 4-6 p.m., The Telegraph, 19 Golden St.
Last Word: Feb. 9, 7 p.m.,
Hygienic Galleries, 79 Bank St.

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