Hygienic festival sparks passion for the arts

New London — The Hygienic Art Galleries overflowed with attendees who enjoyed an array of artwork, from serious to irreverent, Saturday evening at the opening night of the annual arts show.  

Friends and families filed through galleries featuring hundreds of paintings, sculptures and photographs at the show, the Salon des Indépendants, with the rules of "No Judge, No Jury, No Censorship, No Fees."

They stopped to view each artwork, at times quietly admiring the pieces or chuckling at them.

Nearby at the Ice Carnival at the Hygienic Art Park, festival-goers, bundled in coats and hats, roasted marshmallows, played games, watched ice sculptors and braved the haunted house.

A surprise came earlier in the carnival — before spectators were inside the park — when two trees accidentally caught on fire during one of the games. The fire quickly was extinguished by staff.

The show and carnival were among several events at the Hygienic Art XXXVII creative arts festival, which drew crowds of spectators and artists, both newcomers and professionals.

Shannon Funk, 18, of New London, who plans to study jewelry design, said the gallery is an opportunity for her to start displaying her work. She contributed "The Star," a blue-and-gold beaded mosaic inspired by Tarot cards.

"I'm so glad the Hygienic is here," she said Saturday afternoon. "Other places, it's intimidating to go up and say 'can I hang my art here?' This place is welcoming." 

As Funk got ready to bring her work over to the gallery on Saturday, she inspired her father, Rob Funk, to enter his own piece — an acrylic painting that he said portrays a cat through its outer layers into its soul.

Rob Funk said he had tried his hand at acrylic painting after his son asked everyone in the family over Christmas to draw pictures of cats.

"It's exciting that my daughter is able to put in such a nice piece, and it's nice that I can have a little bit of fun with mine," he said, laughing.

The annual show features about 400 pieces, from creative "one-shot wonders" to fine art, and gives artists an opportunity to exhibit their work, said Vincent Scarano, president of Hygienic Art. 

The artwork will be on display through Feb. 13.

Meanwhile, the youngest generation of artists got an opportunity to work on their craft during the festival.

At the Hygienic Young Artists Expo on Saturday afternoon, children painted and drew at tables while listening to live music at the Garde Art Gallery.

The gallery's bright yellow walls displayed art contributed by local schools, community groups and individuals age 14 and under.

The artwork spanned from miniature doors created through the Hearts, Hands and Homes Community Collaborative for Foster Care & Adoption, to one-line drawings made by students at the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication in New London.

Lorain Ohio Simister, coordinator and co-curator of the expo with Bob Farace, said all children start out as artists, and only stop once someone tells them over their life that they can't do it.

She said the event brings together adults and children of all ages to work on the same art projects.

"It's encouraging for the kids, it's also encouraging for the adults," she said.

Adam Foss of Waterford looked on as his two daughters, Cecilia, 5, and Lucille, 4, painted seashells at a table alongside artists Sean Kane of Quaker Hill and Eleanor Tamsky of Mystic.

He said Cecilia was excited to display her artwork, which featured a leaf that she painted as a rainbow.

"I think it gives them an appreciation of all the kinds of artwork out there," Foss said about the young artists expo.

More information is available at http://hygienic.ning.com.


Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich


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