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New York: Salt,
The Preserver of Life

Bettina Werner presents her newest salt crystal art collection to empower women in the eloquent Wall Street Down Town Association Club.

by Lorraine Farquharson

The Salt Queen
The Salt Queen

NEW YORK, marzo 24, 2014“Salt, in all its qualities, is a preserver, healer, symbol of purity, and undeniable necessity of life,” New York-based, Milan-born artist, Bettina Werner says.

“People are so fascinated with gold and diamonds and other stuff. Those are things man can live without, but salt is one thing man cannot live without.”

Her finger-constructed paintings and sculptures are all about spirituality, philosophy, healing, through the use of natural and vital minerals of the earth. This is why she chose something as simple as salt – which she imports from Italy – as the main component of her artistic creations. “Less is more,” she says.

The ‘Tibino’s Legs’ construction salt crystal artwork to view at the opening of Werner’s latest exhibition, as it was shown near the entrance of New York City’s eloquent Romanesque ‘The Down Town Association’ building – which hosted the art exhibition. The landmark building is New York’s first private club, which opened in 1887 and is located in the city’s financial district.

It immediately showed a stark contrast between decades-old artistry versus modern creativity which Werner says is a “perfect combination of the old and the new world of art.”

Of her many art collections, 102 Dalmatians, is Werner’s most special as it is a memorial to her now-passed-away Dalmatian friend – Tibino. It is also the preservation of the strong bond that the artist developed with her dog over a 13-year period.

Werner’s main theme in her work is always the preservation of love, life, the heart, soul and body. This idea permeates the walls of the ostentatious exhibition rooms and echoes loudly from the high-ceilings. Perusing the gallery with Werner and listening to her explanations of the meaning behind each piece, one can feel an emanating vibrancy and exuberance of positive energy – similar to the refreshing salty waters of the Italy's Mediterranean coastline.  

The Queen of Salt, as she is called, tells of her devotion to creating her salty art and that she has been doing her work for almost 30 years – which is not as apparent as the meanings behind each piece of art. But then 48-year-old Werner also has an explanation for her youthfulness. “Salt. It preserves everything,” she says with a sweet smile.

Names of some of her art collections are The Chakra, showing spiritual enlightenment; The Never Mind, showing that, in life, one needs to just let go sometimes; The Kiss collection was created for an Italian charity auction; The Ladybug collection, was meant to bring good luck. Werner's newest -- The Glowing Ever Essence pieces -- portray the light of the soul, “which no one can overshadow,” she explains.

Her We The People and Love Art collections were launched in 2010 when she became an American citizen and the Love collection symbolizes her love for many aspects of life. Some pieces portray the New York City logo, “I love NY,” which shows her love for the city.

“I’m a lover of New York City,” she said. “It is the one place that symbolizes the center of the world and it touches the heart of everybody. Many, many [people] across the world say they hate America, but you will never hear them say they hate New York,” she added.

Yet, wanting to strongly hold onto her Italian culture, Werner added one special piece to this collection with the reasoning that she is fascinated by the way Americans are fond of their flag – always carrying it or posting it in their front yards. “This is something we do not do in Italy as the flag is never celebrated there,” she says. This sparked her interest in creating her Italian flag artwork to remind her of her culture.

The more-than-a century old, men-only club building had many rooms, but a specific one called The Game Room  where members smoked cigars, dine, gamble, negotiate and show off their hunting trophies (heads of reindeers, moose, and other animals) that signify their success and power. Women were not allowed the building until 1985.

Two outstanding salt crystal works from Werner’s Dice Art collection – signifying  that humans should not be afraid of taking chances in life – are displayed in the tobacco-smelling Game Room, standing in sharp contrast to the stuffed animal heads, as well as examples of the bulls-and-bears icons of Wall Street.

Another exciting “salt crystal dice-sculpture” is exhibited in the Down Town Association’s most famous and historical men’s lavatory in the world, which is famous in that it is featured in scores of great movies and tv shows including Broadwalk Empire, Law & Order, 30 Rock, and Damages -- to name  a few.

For the Down Town Association ladies, the artist appropriately selected the “Ladybug” painting from her ladybug collection to be shown in the ladies room. Werner explains that since a female ladybug is bigger than the male and has more spots, the realization came to her that an empowered female taking a chance in life, and on Wall Street, was well worth the risk. 

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