Miek Boltjes’ Photographs Portray Street Art and Artists at Gallery 14
Hopewell’s Gallery 14 will showcase the work of the Dutch photographer Miek Boltjes in an exhibition opening next week. Ms. Boltjes is a relative newcomer to Princeton. Her “Street Art Portrait(s)” will be displayed in the main gallery alongside an exhibition of work, titled “Autumn’s Beauties,” by longtime Gallery 14 member Rhoda Kassof-Isaac in the Jay Goodkind Gallery.
Both shows will run from March 14 through April 13, with an opening reception on Friday, March 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. and a “meet the photographers” event on Sunday, March 16, from 1 to 3 p.m.
“Miek Boltjes presents eye-catching photographs that intrigue and make you smile,” said Gallery 14’s Martin Schwartz. Her 17 framed color prints record artwork as painted on buildings together with the artists who produce it; passersby and posing models are also shown in their environment. The end result is a portrait of contemporary street art painted within the past 18 months.
Taken together, Ms. Boltjes’ photographs form a contemporary portrait of street art culture. They also shine a spotlight on the significance of eyes in street art. “The focus of everybody’s immediate attention, well executed eyes are the artist’s signature and pride,” said Ms. Boltjes, for whom this work has become an ongoing exploration of the street art and graffiti writing of Wynwood, Miami. She plans to publish a book of her photographs in the near future.
Ms. Boltjes came to Princeton from the Netherlands two years ago when her husband took up a position at the Institute for Advanced Study. By profession, she is a mediator in intra-state conflicts and an editor of publications on that subject.
Her photograph “Ternura,” for example, was shot last December in Wynwood, a Miami neighborhood that Ms. Boltjes describes as “formerly a rough warehouse area that is being transformed into a hip and happening destination” primarily because of commissions to famous street artists who have been asked to express themselves on its walls.
Art Basel is the Miami event by which this transformation is being wrought and the two artists in Ms. Boltjes’s photograph, “Ternura,” are known jointly as EntesYPesimo. “They flew in from Peru for the week of Art Basel, which attracts visitors to the many galleries that have moved into the neighborhood,” said the photographer. “Ternura translates as ‘tenderness’ in English, and is both a reference to the expression of warm and affectionate feelings and to the quality or state of being vulnerable,” she explained. “It speaks to the gentleness and care with which the man holds the woman and the couple holds the bird, but it also hints at the relationship between the artists and their art, both imagined and real,” she said.
“At first sight we are taken by the contrast between the tough-looking tattooed man in the foreground and the soft loving scene in the background. A closer look at the tattoos on both establishes the man as one of the artists and reveals that he has put a part of himself into his art,” said Ms. Boltjes, whose photograph allows the viewer to see both graffiti writer and his work in a new way, not juxtaposed but connected. “Looking at the art is seeing part of the artists,” she said.
The images in her exhibition provided the photographer with a revelation of sorts. “After a week-long immersion in the street art and graffiti writing scene in Wynwood, I came away with the realization that the artists care intensely about their creations both in terms of the subject matter and the execution; they really put their heart into it, making themselves vulnerable to all of us.”
“The beauty of our brain is that it allows us to ‘see’ the woman in the mural looking affectionately at her creator, who is sweating in the midday heat. This touch, together with the reflection on the car and the way the temporary fence happens to complete the bird cage, both firmly placing the art in its environment, make this photograph stand out among others,” she acknowledged.
For more information on Ms. Boltjes’s work, visit: miek-boltjes.artistwebsites.com.
The images on show in “Autumn’s Beauties” were inspired by brilliantly colored autumnal leaves gathered by Ms. Kassof-Isaac, who is both photographer and painter. “These fallen leaves are jewels dropped,” said Ms. Kassof-Isaac in her artist’s statement. “The colors are blindingly beautiful. The reds run from blood red to glowing fire. Orange vies with red for superiority with yellow gold not far behind. The yellows move in, either turning to greens or brown.”
According to the artist, each leaf has its own finger print. She gathers and rearranges her finds into new patterns and combinations. “By turning a leaf over, we find colors faded, but still lined with delicate veins,” she said. “With light coming from above or below, the opaque or transparent quality is seen.”
The long-time resident of Princeton has been an artist for most of her life. Living in Switzerland and Italy for many years, taught her to “value the almost hidden secrets when looking at tiny veins, lines, cracks, breaks, textures and other messages in objects and things that surround us.”
While living in Europe, she graduated as a Jungian psychotherapist and is well versed in the healing values of the arts. She has worked as an art teacher, given seminars, and exhibited her art, and trained in art therapy. “Her photography is unique,” said Mr.Schwartz. “Since she paints on every photograph, each is a ‘one of a kind’ piece of art.”
“Autumn’s Beauties” is described as combining the art of the camera with the art of painting to make the lasting visions of the brilliant colors of fallen Autumn leaves.
Gallery 14 is at located at 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, N.J. 08525. Hours are Saturday, Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment. For an appointment, call (609) 333-8511.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.photogallery14.com.