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Salon 2002

San Antonio, USA

Hosted by Vigini Studios, Inc.

After what seemed a decade of organizing, the dates of Salon 2002 approached quickly. The organization of Salon 2002 began in 1999 at the Swedish Salon after a whirlwind request and acceptance on our part. It was an exciting and daunting task and all those who have hosted feel the sense of relief once the date arrives. 

 The preparation began 10 days before with so many new and old friends coming to San Antonio to help organize the studio. Nicola and I were overwhelmed and are deeply thankful for all the help and support that we received from Salon members, new and old, and a committee of our students. Our floors were painted, doors wood grained (special thanks to Cathy Conner, Inge Andres Visnes, and Benny Carlsson), demonstration areas were prepared and donated materials laid out in orderly fashion. We began the set up of the Southwest School of Art and Craft on Wednesday.

Several days before the Salon, a large beer truck came to donate Belgian beer in honor of next year's host, Curd Vercruysse. Twenty cases in total and we later found that these cases each had 24 bottles of Leffe inside.  480 bottles of beer! 

Most members had arrived by Thursday and were greeted by a snake in our courtyard.  That of course caused a stir but we convinced them that it was non-venomous. The Craft Center came to life that day. Each country chose an area to represent their work. Lucretia Moroni's beautiful exhibit of a Persian carpet held center stage. That evening, we enjoyed an informal opening cocktail where everyone relaxed, introduced themselves or caught up on old friendships. Afterward, dinner was held at one of our favorite restaurants on the river, "Dolores del Rio", where belly dancing was the highlight.

Friday began early with members and participants in both locations, our studio for private events and the Craft Center for the public exhibition.  Yannick Guegan, on his premier visit to the United States, worked at the Southwest School of Art and Craft during the entire show. Benny Carlsson and Susan Arnild assisted him on his magnificent wood grain panel. Benny, the host of Salon 2004 in Oslo, Norway is a great friend and wonderfully talented artist. He is a master in the old fashion sense. Susan, from Denmark, a gifted artist on her own, completed the fabulous Delft style tiles on the panel.

Scottish calligrapher, Ron Gordon, set up a great exhibition area in the central hall. He presented us with an ornamental illustration of the doors of the Alamo surrounded by his masterful calligraphy highlighting the Salon. 

Pierre Finkelstein, in his usual charismatic way, held court not only with Salon members but the fascinated public as well. His section was packed with on lookers watching his demonstrations of trompe l'oeil ornamentation and purchasing brushes. 

We were thrilled to have Jean-Luc Sable and Michel Nadai both winners of the Best Craftsman of the Year Award in France attend our Salon. Jean-Luc, the most recent recipient, demonstrated a perfect arabesque, trompe l'oeil panel in the public area. Michel and his beautiful wife Kyoko exhibited a range of works from a trompe l'oeil wood graining to a lifelike grisaille panel.

Valerie Naulleau demonstrated her unique talent and whimsical style in a panel entitled "Les Cloches". Vincent, her father, rented a Harley to cruise around San Antonio and the Hill Country.

Grottesca seemed to be the common motif in allot of the works. Laura Lester and Annabelle Armstrong both exhibited the finest samples which included some decorative themes from Texas. The theme of the Salon was the Alamo and San Antonio missions which each artist used in their panels. Annabelle creatively incorporated the river walk along with cactus, a longhorn, and an armadillo. Everyone loved both panels!


Paris host Pascal Amblard blew everyone away with his exhibition piece.  No one would disagree that he is an absolute genius. (We found out later that the little girl portrayed in his murals is his niece!) His demonstration piece (see above left) showed his mastery of perspective and architectural trompe l'oeil.

The formal opening began with mariachis and margaritas followed by dinner.  Michelle Santilli gave a moving speech in honor of her friend and partner, Keith Warwick, who passed away. Two memorial plaques were given out to Keith and our young friend Lars Grano, to whom the Salon was dedicated. Patrick Kirwin gave the highest honor of all to Lars by his drapery rendering.  The concept, colors, and generally everything about the panel shows Patrick's passion and gift for trompe l'oeil. The evening ended with a cascarone fight (to the horror of the hotel) and music supplied by fresco master and harmonica expert, Michael Hearn.


Saturday was by far the most busy day. We opened the studio for the general public to get a glimpse of what has going on in the private area. Sean Crosby showed his mastery of the human figure by working on a Michelangelo inspired fresco panel. A mural completed in our 10 day workshop decorated our studio walls.(see part of the 24 foot x 14 foot mural below with the humorous addition of our pug "Blue") Laura Lester and Cathy Conner completed a magnificent grottesca that was featured in the Faux Finisher Magazine article by Rebecca Parsons. Almost everyone worked on the common projects. One of which is a panel of many types of marbles.  The other, a marquetry panel was worked on by Mats Carlsson and Lotta Olsen. The Swedish contingency was huge this year. Their force, including Tommy Orbing, was ever present at the public area where their work ranged from trompe l'oeil to their unique marbles. 

Talent for art is hereditary in Benny Carlsson's family as his son Thomas demonstrated his talent for airbrushing. Everyone was amazed at the speed an intricacy of his work.  Frenchmen Christian Martincourt, Pascal Rodriguez, and Patrice Krietz kept us all entertained with their humor and fantastic panels of marble and wood. 

Saturday evening began with a tour of the historic river walk on a barges.  Sunday, the last day, was a more quiet day. The lectures were enjoyed by all. George Zaffle gave a hilarious and very informative lecture on his earlier days as a decorative artist biking through America. Doreen Sharabati spoke of Syria and her experiences working there. Ina and Allen Marx gave a wonderful lecture on a series of restoration projects. Some of the items were in such disrepair that all were amazed at the final outcome. Robert Woodland gave a stirring presentation on his projects in London, mainly the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben.

The closing evening was by  far the most fun of all.  Guests were greeted with a replica of the the famous fountain in Brussels, the manequin pis.  Dinner was delicious at Club Giraud, a private dinner club along the banks of the sleepy San Antonio River. Ina and Allen Marx were this years recipients of the Achievement Awards for their tremendous contribution to American decorative painting and restoration. Two mementos were also give to Nicola's teachers from the IPEDEC, Christian Martincourt and Yannick Guegan. We were honored to have a group from the Worshipful Company of the Painters and Stainers as well as the American consulate to England and his wife who now reside in San Antonio. Robert Woodland  auctioned a 19th century London Times with an article on San Antonio to Pierre Finkelstein, raising money for our friend Lars Grano's family. Andre Ritin paid hommage to this years Salon with a poem to the tune of a famous western ballad. The Swedes presented us with Swedish marble shot glasses complete with a variety of Aquavit. 

The handoff to Curd was complete with the signing of the Salon Manifesto and a toast. Artists from 14 different countries attended the San Antonio Salon making it a great success. Over 1000 people came on Saturday alone for the public event which was made possible by sponsors, especially the International Painters and Allied Trades. For the next week, many participants stayed on for post Salon site seeing and relaxed get together.  We missed many friends this year who could not make it and thank all of those who attended.

Salon 2002 is dedicated to the memory of our  "Sincere Brother of the Brush'   Lars Grano

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