Even after three decades, the Hygienic crew comes up with something new

You know how those Stock Market-y People are fiendishly using computers to evolve algorithms that generate ever more and more creative trading options at speeds and formulae beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals?

That's the financial equivalent of the Hygienic Art Show - Salon des Indépendants. The Hygienic fest is already great and proven as it is, but the visionary folks behind the whole concept keep coming up with new events or clever twists on old ones. As such, when volume XXXIII of this midwinter bacchanal kicks off this weekend in New London, you'll have the usual array of Creativity In Motion. There's the titular art show in the Hygienic Galleries, of course - no judges, no jury, no censorship, all-are-welcome - and the Rock Fix and the Hootenanny and all sorts of film, video, theater and fashion.

Debuting, though, is one truly great idea and a fun addendum to another. And lest ye think the whole Hygienic concept is steamrolling out of hand, well, maybe that's the idea.

"Out of hand? I think that's part of the plan," says Hygienic manager Rich Martin. "We love the idea of the unexpected bubbling up to the surface at these events since that's in keeping with the original idea of the show itself. Ultimately, the goal is to have everyone celebrate their freedom of expression in their own personal way."

The very cool latest Hygienic newbie is the Rock Lobster Band-o-Matic - a sort of musical lottery where interested musicians register in one of five instrumental/vocal categories. A drawing is then held during Saturday's Rock Fix, and five new bands of five players each are randomly formed - and who knows what combination of musical styles and talent level may be fused together? Each group then has two weeks to arrange one cover tune and write one original tune - and they'll all perform Saturday, Feb. 11, at New London's Oasis Pub for the official closing party for Hygienic XXXIII.

A similar construct started a few years back at New Haven's Ideat Village, and Martin says the results were spectacular; one band even showed up with their own merchandise.

"With a scene as varied and deep with players as we have in the New London area, we really think there's opportunity for some random magic to happen," Martin says. "Who knows? Maybe one of these bands will keep going. You never know what the outcome will be."

Another innovation is this spin on Hygienic Photo-gienic. The visual scavenger hunt traditionally assigns teams of photographers topics and gives them 24 hours to deliver images illustrating same. This year, poets are getting into the act as members of the photo teams. The squads will be given respective lists of words they will then translate into images and poems that will be exhibited the weekend of Feb. 3 at the Expressiones Gallery on Bank Street.

With so much happening - and so many opportunities - Martin despairs the idea that first time, would-be participants in any field of expression or endeavor might be shy about jumping in and taking part.

"It's like with the art show itself," he says. "Get there early, grab a space and, certainly, don't be intimidated. The beauty of the whole idea is that all are welcome to show their work. It's a real opportunity to network with other artists. Whether it's hanging a piece on the wall, playing an instrument, manning a puppet, sharing a film or whatever else comes to mind, then it fits in with our plans perfectly."

Hygienic Art XXXIII, Salon des Indépendants, 8 p.m. Saturday, art drop-off 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Hygienic Art Galleries, 79 Bank St., New London; free; (860) 443-8001, hygienic.org.

Other Hygienic XXXIII events

The Hootenanny
6-9:30 p.m. Friday, Muddy Waters, 42 Bank St.

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

Young Artists
Opening celebration noon-4 p.m. Saturday, The Garde Gallery, 305 State St.; runs through Feb. 11

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

The Screening Room
4-9 p.m. Saturday, The Exchange, 74 Bank St.

Children of the Wall
8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union St.

Hygienic Photo-gienic
Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, Expressiones, 84 Bank St.
The Visual Scavenger Hunt: Sign-up at the Hygienic Art Galleries during the art hang on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Fashion in the Ballroom
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union St.

Mayfly Playhouse 24
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union St.

Hygienic Poets
7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, Hygienic Art Galleries, 79 Bank St.

Rock Lobster Band-O-Matic
10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, Oasis Pub, 16 Bank St.


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