Just off the corner of College and Orange Street, “Architectural Abstractions,” the sculptural collection of Edwin “Ted” Salmon, is on display at the Reynolds Fine Art gallery.
An experiment in antitheses, the exhibition highlights the contrast between structural and decorative elements in architecture, color and unfinished materials as well as hard lines and smooth shapes. At the artist’s reception on Feb. 3, about 20 attendees engaged in lighthearted chatter and congratulated Salmon on his artwork.
Ben Parker, a Connecticut artist, said he found the collection fascinating and was especially moved by the acrylic bands on display. He said herecognized the difficulty of working with Salmon’s chosen materials.
The architectural elements have a clear root in Salmon’s life. Based in East Haven for the past 16 to 17 years, Salmon said he works full-time at his own business where he fabricates materials for clients from local architects to larger companies in New York City and New Haven.
“If I ask for it, anything, then he can make it,” said atendeePaul Fioretti, a long-time client and friend of the artist.
Sculpture, however, has been as constant in Salmon’s life as material fabrication. Salmon attended art school at the University of Kentucky and has continued creating since.
Fioretti said he sees an evolution in Salmon’s work and added that Salmon would often begin with an I-beam, as he has in this collection, and then would “bend and turn” it into his creation. The use of bright color and transparent materials in this specific display is a departure from Salmon’s typical work, and Fioretti said he finds the new pieces “breathtaking.”
Salmon’s experience with both building materials and architectural projects is clear in the exhibit. One piece called “High Rise,” for example, is a vertical I-beam painted white, rooted in a square cement base. The beam is surrounded by rectangular panels of orange and yellow neon plexiglass.
“Most of the sculptures start as an I-beam, and the I-beam is the inspiration. Plexiglass is just something I felt compelled to add some color to,” Salmon explained. “With the plexiglass, most buildings have a structural element on the inside and then you have a curtain basically on a skyscraper. It’s called a curtain wall; the glass. So on the center you have the rough, kind of raw steel, as you go towards the outside of the building you have more refined finishes. Structural on the inside, as you go out, it gets more refined and contemporary.”
Salmon credits his parents as the source of his artistry and said his exposure to architecture came from spending summers as an apprentice to his architect father. His mother, a painter, has been equally as influential.
Of his becoming a sculptor, Salmon said it was simply a “natural, organic kind of thing.”
“[It’s] the path of least resistance,” he said. “Sculpture is halfway between architecture and painting.”
Salmon’s fabrication business links directly to his art. He said most of the material he uses in his artwork is left over from the materials he fabricates.
“Architectural Abstractions” is on display until Feb. 25.