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Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 9:12 PM

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Painters from many nations transform Union Station

For the next few days 70-plus decorative painters are taking over Seattle’s Union Station to showcase their artistic technique in the 19th annual International Salon of Decorative Painting, Salon Seattle 2014.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Salon Seattle 2014: 19th annual International Salon of Decorative Painting

Demonstrations, exhibit hall, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Union Station Great Hall, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle; free and open to the public (

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Think Sistine contemporary. Now let's have some American bullet trains pull in here! Well, at least into King Street. ... MORE
@Shirley Qiu: In future, please use the correct name -- not 'Holland' but 'Netherlands' when you refer to the country.... MORE


Painters from all over the world are flocking to Seattle this week to transform Union Station’s Great Hall into a pop-up decorative art gallery.

Through Sunday, 70-plus decorative painters will showcase their artistic technique in Salon Seattle 2014, hosted by the International Salon of Decorative Painting, a nonprofit, international art conference.

Touching down in Seattle for the first time, this year’s event will bring together a variety of painting styles that play to the theme “Classic Meets Contemporary/Industrial Elegance.”

Decorative painters embellish walls to look like something they are not — using techniques like woodgraining, marbling or ornamentation.

A well-known type is trompe l‘oeil (literally, “deceive the eye”), in which an artist creates a three-dimensional image, such as a hallway or domed ceiling, on a flat surface.

Cathy Conner, a 15-time participant and this year’s host, said that while artists attend in order to showcase their own art, the goal of the event is to generate creative exchange and elevate the craft.

“It’s very intimidating to go and paint with these painters that are so good, but I’ve found that they’re very warm and very welcoming,” she said. “Everybody wants to see everybody succeed ... There’s so much support, and when you walk away, you’re so inspired you want to go and paint more.”

The international event, which began in Belgium, is also a venue for cultural exchange. Former Salon host Yaeko Kurimata, of Tokyo, who arrived in Seattle recently to participate in this year’s Salon, said each host typically introduces the visitors to a bit of local culture.

“(The visitors) enjoy the city, they learn the culture,” she said. “Our main thing is decorative paint, but also, it’s really exchang(ing) culture and learn(ing) culture.”

This year’s venue may be able to help with that. Conner believes the Great Hall in Union Station, chosen for its large, well-lit interior as well as its convenient position in Seattle’s hub, is the perfect location.

“When it’s in one room, everybody’s talking and painting, and it’s really magical, it’s very dynamic,” she said.

While the collaboration, camaraderie and cultural exchange among artists are an important part of Salon, another large proponent of the event is keeping it open to the public for a more intimate look at decorative painting and an opportunity to interact with the artists. Each Salon allows visitors to browse ongoing demonstrations and an exhibit hall.

Conner hopes this will raise awareness and support for decorative painting, which she feels is often overlooked by the general public.

“I don’t feel like it’s very well-known, although you do see quite a bit of it,” she said.

After months of planning, she’s excited to finally seeing the event unfold.

“I’m just so looking forward to getting it going,” she said. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing the reaction (from) the public, I just really hope that they come and see it because I just think it’s such a special gathering of people.”

Shirley Qiu: or on Twitter: @callmeshirleyq

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