Two lobsters facing each other off, claws out. In the real world, that might portray a crustacean showdown, but for artist Jean Kigel, these lobsters aren’t about to fight. They’re embracing in a “claw shake” of friendship!
Kigel is the artist for the 2023 Maine Lobster Festival poster. “I was asked to depict two red lobsters for this poster, so I decided to position them so that they were shaking hands, or shaking claws,” she said. “I see it as symbolic, sort of an interplay of mutual benefit of playing together, shaking hands, whether it’s different cultures, different countries, or different points of view. Maybe even an intersection between industry and environment.”
An artist for the past 40 years, Kigel grew up in Warren and now lives in Waldoboro on Muscongus Bay. Her husband has a recreational license and her father was part-time lobsterman with a full license. “We grew up eating lobsters and clams for every special occasion,” she recalled. “We didn’t have turkey for Thanksgiving or ham for Easter; it was always lobster. And when I was a kid, my parents would pack up the car with a bunch of live lobsters and a small gas boiler and we’d go out to the Pemaquid rocks and sit there all day eating lobster as our picnic.”
Her home and studio serves as inspiration to her work. “I watch lobstermen every day from my studio, churning away, hauling up lobsters — it’s great fun,” she said. “I’ve painted a lot of lobsters, some blue, some even cotton-candy-colored.”
She modeled her poster after an oversized lobster shell that she’d saved after it was consumed. “I looked at it very closely, and studied the red and mottled patterns on the shell,” she said. “I also looked at another cooked lobster for reference.”
Kigel has enjoyed going to the Maine Lobster Festival for many years and was pleasantly surprised to be chosen as this year’s poster artist. “My favorite genre is watercolor and that’s what this poster was painted in.”
Kigel’s poster, as well as a dozen others dating back to 2009, can be purchased via the Festival’s Poster Store for just $10 each. Her other work can be found at Archipelago in Rockland, River Arts Gallery in Damariscotta, and Boothbay Region Art Foundation Gallery in Boothbay Harbor. Find her work online at www.jeankigel.com.
The 76th annual Maine Lobster Festival is Aug. 2-6, 2023 in Rockland, Maine, with free admission once again! Get the jump on your travel plans and book accommodations early. For more information: mainelobsterfestival.com