by Michael Anderson
International examples of decorative painting, a broad category encompassing numerous techniques, were exhibited at the 2021 Salon, the 25th annual gathering of muralists, artisan painters and finish specialists held April 29 – May 2, 2021 at the St. Louis Artists Guild in Clayton, MO. Due to pandemic travel restrictions, many European and Asian professionals could not attend but many sent examples of their work on the theme of regionalism for a gallery exhibition. Their large hand-painted canvas panels were sent rolled up in mailing tubes and displayed unframed.
French artist, Pascal Amblard, describes his approximately 5’ x 6’ panel as an oversized “study of a yet to come real painting. It shows a young cowboy of our area with the landscape I see from my studio. Most of what I paint, as a fine artist, could be labeled as Regionalism.”
Japanese artist Yaeko Kurimata’s panel depicts several Missouri endangered species including an Ozark Hell Bender and a Pallid Sturgeon. The painting incorporates gold-leaf and Japanese design motifs.
A carnival poster painted in regionalist style by American artist Hugh Luck shows a Ferris wheel and joyful dancing figures under an approaching thunderstorm. The ominous carnival of souls suggests how the pandemic has affected groups of people unevenly; some tragically while others seem to be able to fly over its reach unscathed.
The event, also called Salon Forever, blended a trade show-like atmosphere with continuous live studio painting. Pamela Hernandez of Golden Paintworks managed a long table of the firm’s products including Golden Acrylic paints, Williamsburg Oil Paints and Qor watercolors. Artists charged their brushes from opened samples of acrylic colors. A commercial painter from New York created flitches of faux wood finishes using glazes and specialty brushes from Faux Brushes.com. The vendors, as well as the Painters and Allied Trades Union, were among the thirty event sponsors and donors.
Sean Crosby, a New York painter, explained that he attends the annual salon to not only demonstrate his painting techniques but to share information and for the camaraderie of fellow artisans. One of his panels in the exhibition combines a baroque-style portrait of an elaborately costumed figure within a trompe-l’oeil wood and gilded frame.
In a live-streamed presentation, decorative painter Arlene McLoughlin spoke about how she maintained her business during the pandemic by literally taking her work outside by creating specialty finishes for the exteriors of brick homes. She describes the technique as brick white washing, giving a standard suburban house the patina of an historic home. McLoughlin also outlined her marketing efforts using specific strategies on her social media accounts.
In another example of outdoor decorative art, Eric Schlake completed an elongated sidewalk portrait of a lion. The piece is designed to be viewed from a single angle to perceive the effect of forced perspective.
St. Louis artist Margaret Von Kanel, the event host and a sponsor, spearheaded the effort to bring Salon Forever to the St. Louis Artists Guild because of the guild’s exhibition space, its proximity to hotels and its history. The St. Louis Artists Guild is the oldest American visual arts organization west of the Mississippi River. Her artwork depicts the iconic statue of King Louis, the city’s namesake, superimposed over the Gateway Arch. Von Kanel said she only regrets that all the international members were unable to attend in person. The event’s presentations were live streamed for internet viewing. Many of the participants said they look forward to the return of international travel and reuniting with the entire membership of Salon Forever.
Gesso Contributing Writer Michael Anderson:
St. Louis Artists Guild
Salon Saint Louis 2021