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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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Artist Talk: Linda Salmon’s Cats – A Procession of Mirthful Mousers

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One of the paintings in the gallery s made of watercolor on paper. 

The art of Linda Salmon was on display at one of the most recent shows at Modesto Junior College (MJC) Art Gallery. The March 3 exhibit, named “Linda’s Cats – A Procession of Mirthful Mousers” was put together as “a celebration of fun” according to the artist.

Salmon was born in New York and traveled across the country with her family as a young child. Living briefly in several states, her family settled in Fairfield, California. This journey sparked her interest in the colors and shapes of the world around her. Throughout her school years, Linda’s affinity for the arts was uncovered and reinforced by her teachers. Her high school art teacher discovered and encouraged her talents, especially in color theory.

Salmon continued her studies at Solano Community College and earned an Associate of Arts Degree. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Summa Cum Laude, in Printmaking at San Jose State. She also received statewide recognition in printmaking while earning her master’s in fine arts, specializing in Pictorial Arts in San Jose, and was given the responsibility and privilege of printing for several visiting artists, namely Albert Paley, Gronk and Jun Kaneko.

Salmon is known for both her prints and her painting. She applies multiple layers of techniques, so each completed work presents several avenues of interpretation. She keeps her work current by exploring new techniques and styles, visiting museums, traveling whenever she can, and by “planting seeds for future artists.”

Her work has been in group exhibitions and juried shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Central Valley, and even on a national level. She is known throughout the community for her ability to inspire confidence and perseverance in new students, as well as her love of art. Salmon taught art to students as young as eight years and up to the university level, recently retiring from Merced Community College and Modesto Junior College.

Her work was affected by a point in her life where she was going through a lot. Going through a divorce, moving, and getting adjunct jobs, she explained, her work got smaller, but it also allowed her art to get a bit more colorful. 

Salmon shared that after retirement, she has more time to work on her paintings, spending up to 8 hours a day on some and making them bigger and bigger.

Salmon takes most of the photos herself. Since she was a part of the show called, “Topophilia- Love of Place” she decided to make these two pieces in the shape of houses.

“The reason behind this is that everyone has these things, such as a cup that they drink out of and live in some kind of house and everyone sees the sky no matter where they are in the world, so that’s love of community,” she said.

In the two art pieces, she had a problem to solve, she explained, which was to work red on red and in the other piece the teacup belongs to her aunt and the problem in this one is the gold around the cup.

“I always give myself problems to solve,” she said.

She was thinking of using the gold leaf for this painting, but she felt that would have made her painting flat, so she decided to use the colors instead.

“Colors affect the colors around them,” Salmon said.    

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, which involves using a heated encaustic medium to which colored pigments have been added to some of her pieces. Salmon explained that this is something she has always been fascinated with. She had done nine of these and every single painting was sold. For this show, she asked to borrow them back from the buyer so she could present three to the public. 

Salmon points out that she started working on small pieces of paper, but found it to be too confining. So, she decided to work on bigger canvases and found she could move more freely.

When it came to the cats, she began with Cleo and Charlie, cats that she had helped her daughter raise. The whole series of cats started 15 years ago when her daughter would send her photographs of the pair. At that time, Salmon kept the photos in a ziplock bag and thought that someday she would do something with them. She now has the opportunity to do just that.
 Salmon also shared a brief history of cats when talking about the purpose of her latest show, explaining that historically, cats formed a symbiotic relationship with humans who appreciated their help in controlling vermin.
“They were loved, and not just because they kept the mice away,” she said.
She added that they were gods in ancient Egypt and considered sacred by the Romans.
“They had a bumpy time in Europe, for a time considered evil and associated with witchcraft, but all that is behind them now,” she said. “They are the world’s second most popular pet, closing the gap on man’s best friend.”

Nearly every drawing in the gallery is a photograph she took herself. She also chooses frame color to match the painting so that it adds to the painting and brings it to life.

The gallery featured another cat, Leo, which was her friend Dolly’s orange cat. Salmon explained that her friend Dolly would send her photographs of Leo and she would draw them and explore them with different patterns and colors. She had used different patterns for every drawing to make interesting two-dimensional compositions, floating the subject in designs that amplified the emotions of each cat. She created complex color schemes which expanded to include the framing.

When asked about future shows, Salmon expressed her desire to add to the collection and create more drawings of cats, as she believes she found her purpose in this series: creating portraits of merriment, play, celebration and exasperation using pattern, color and cats. Her goal was to make them human, distilling the emotion she saw in their faces and body language into a design that brought a sense of fun.

“The point of all this? Fun! I wanted to create something in my social isolation that would bring fun back into life,” she said. “Fun is essential to health, success and happiness and I wish all those things for you too.”

For additional information on Linda Salmon and her art, email her at [email protected]

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Artist Talk: Linda Salmon’s Cats – A Procession of Mirthful Mousers