Alexandria VA - USA
Organizer - Patrick Kirwin-Ulrike
Click for Salon pictures
In March, 1998 the
international gathering was held in Alexandria (nearby
Washington) U.S.A. Salon 98 was organized by Patrick
Kirwin and Ulrike Vaerst,
who both took over the plan during the closing dinner in
Alexandria is a colonial
town with a rich history. It is glued to Washington, the
Paris of America. The Salon was held in the Art League
School, the place where Kirwin and Vaerst teach.
The number of visitors was
about 110. Again many nationalities were present. About 55
Europeans went to America, some countries with even more
participants as in Utrecht. Nine British, eight Swedish,
three Belgians, about nine from France. All together a very
convincing delegation. Also new nationalities showed up,
like Brazilians, Italians and Canadians. The program itself
was completely arranged in the tradition of the Utrecht
Salon 97. The reception and opening-dinner on Friday,
demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, closing-dinner on
Interesting part was that
most of them presented themselves on a very modern way.
Besides of a perfect port-folio and packages with samples
they all got their site on Internet fully equipped with
E-mail. From this we may conclude that the consumer may
obtain a new interior (painted) by a perfect sales-concept.
One could describe as selling a theme. Normally the various
disciplines within the craft are hard to explain to a
consumer, let alone to sell it. In all these different
presentations the techniques and craft SPECIALITIES have a
big part in the total, still they emphasize the complete
concept for interiors and furniture through a certain
general style. They integrate all disciplines, furniture and
ornaments. This is very clever, for, this way there will be
variety in the concept and the decorative artist will have
more space to execute the many techniques.
The Meals of
Kirwin and Vaerst did their
own demonstration opening dinner. An immense piece of canvas
was revealed which was painted together with students. The
central topic of the painting: Table of
Nations. It was a trompe l'oeil of a dining-room with a view on the next room.
The dining-table is set with the French cuisine (lobster and
fish from Bretagne, Quimiac, where the gathering was held in
1996) and the Dutch food from 1997 and some typical American
additions. Also there are a lot of symbolic things entwined
in the painting. A perfect piece of craftsmanship. Very interesting perspectives besides of the use of many
exquisite techniques. The typical Kirwin/Vaerst coloring and
forms are utmost charming and distinctively present. The
painting is very much alive and kicking, besides of the fact
that is a trompe l'oeil still-life. A new item was the Life
Achievement Award. Presented by Robert Woodland to honor two
grandmasters: Tom Valentine and Don Gray from Great-Britain.
A little bit of Art
The participating members were then treated
with two lectures complete with slides. The first was
William Cochran, who worked five years on a bridge in
Fredericksburg decorating the whole. The complete town was
involved on this project to obtain a better unity amongst
the population. All the techniques from the decorative arts
were used. And with a virtuosity and perfection never seen
before. Even an amamorphos picture has been woven into the
painted bricks. For more details visit his special web-site:
After this another
highlight followed. An Italian woman-painter Lucretia did a
small lecture. She painted with the help of a very special
technique. Through silk-screen and multiple brush retouching
she tromped/tricked complete floors with painted carpets and
marquetry. Not just one, but a vast amount of them. Very
impressive. Not only that , but also on walls and textiles.
And all that with a incredible speed. Again, the commercial
All kind of great talents
demonstrated for a full two days. This time the Swedish
delegation put on a impressive show. The realistic and
natural looking imitations were astounding. Most of them are
teachers or a have a business of their own. The British
again were the experts on classical an orthodox decorating.
Robert Woodland this time did a linnen-fold oak imitation, a
traditional English way of panel-decorating. Don Gray
surprised everyone with a mahogany imitation done on an
opelesque base (light reflecting paint). The New Yorker
Pierre Finkelstein presented his new second book, a very
complete, not-to-be-missed standard book. Also present was
the French school Ipedec with their teachers. Incredible
quality and first rate. The French were an eye-opener to
many. Unbelievable oak, mahogany and trompe l'Oeil combined.
Robert Woodland worked together with the French monsieur
Pierre, the director of the school, on oak and sienna
marble. On this level Europe and America taught each other a
lot. New trends and fashion styles in the interior design
world was another topic.
And also the theatre called
sales. Anyhow, all participants discussed crossover,
regardless where they were from. This is a very interesting
part of every Salon also. Besides of the demonstrations of
various decorators from all over the world who will share
their specialty and more so how it is done. Many new faces
and fresh, new ideas. Most of the participants came very
well prepared to the U.S.A. The French were in great
numbers, some of them from the Ipedec school from Paris. Mr.
Pascal Amblard did a sunny display of a country landscape.
Exact and swiftly painted with flair in two days. The
working area was different of course as in Holland, but all
in all very cozy and suitable for this event All the paint
and materials were provided. Demonstrations were done in two
study-rooms of the school. One corridor was used as an
exhibition space where new sensational sample and study
material was to be seen besides of numerous port-folios.
Feathered Mahogany and Portor marble by Patrice Krietz,
A perfect piece of
Pietra-Dura (marble inlay) on a side table done by the
American Jeanne White tempted many eyes. The American
interested visitors form the crafts movement were evidently
surprised by Salon phenomenon and the European solid works.
They tend to look upon the old world with a jealous eye.
Organizer Ulrike Vaerst states that commercial decorative
art in America is mostly based on European models. The
interaction between new and old participants was classical
friendly with an open view. Direct without feeling of
competition they communicated to each other bluntly about
techniques, new developments and achieved victories. Once
more it proofed that the Salon is of great use, without any
boundaries and irrelevant thresholds.
In the evenings during
dinners and pub meetings people of all nationalities
philosophized. Almost without any lingual problems. The
decorative art in 1998 is very much evolving. On this level
Europe and America taught each other a lot. Top decorative
artists from America (Nicola Vigini, Patrick Kirwin, Evan
Wilson, Patrick Cunningham, Pierre Finkelstein) discussed
with an open mind about their goals and commercial trade.
Not every decorative artist present on this salon is in such
a privileged position. It has a lot to do with the regional
culture and habits and smaller commissions.
We spoke about how to
participate with new trends and fashion in the interior
world. But also about the theatre called sales. Patrick
Kirwin and Ulrike Vaerst have on this particular field many
years of experience towards clients.
On Sunday evening there was
the closing dinner. The evening was hosted by Patrick Kirwin
and Ulrike Vaerst with the Swedish delegation completely in
their particular Swedish country costume. They did a short,
comical speech and both handed over the traditional map with
all the addresses to the Swedish delegation. Sweden will be
hosting Salon 1999. This time the organization will be done
by Mats Carlsson and Lotta Olsson form the Palm Group. They
did a video presentation of Norrkoping. After that Benny the
Viking did his traditional drinking song. This complete
Salon group was bonding more than previous times. They are
getting to know each other better. Don Gray was the man who
asked all of us to join the circle-dance. From that point
off the real atmosphere came to surface.
Some of the