September 17, 2014
GROVER’S CORNERS: Mary Barton, shown here with Richard Kondras in the 1995 production of Philip Jerry’s “Our Town” by American Repertory Ballet, coaches current dancers by relaying the late Mr. Jerry’s direction “almost word for word.” “Our Town” is being presented this weekend at Rider University.

GROVER’S CORNERS: Mary Barton, shown here with Richard Kondras in the 1995 production of Philip Jerry’s “Our Town” by American Repertory Ballet, coaches current dancers by relaying the late Mr. Jerry’s direction “almost word for word.” “Our Town” is being presented this weekend at Rider University.

Nineteen years ago, American Repertory Ballet (ARB) debuted the ballet Our Town, based on the play by Thornton Wilder that won the playwright a Pulitzer Prize in 1938. Choreographed by Philip Jerry, who was ballet master of the company while earning his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, the affecting drama was made all the more poignant by Mr. Jerry’s death from AIDS not long after the premiere. He was 41.

The fact that the ballet company has continued to perform Our Town over the ensuing two decades is testament to its dramatic power. This weekend, it is one of four works on a program ARB is presenting at Rider University’s Bart Luedeke Center. Coaching the dancers are artistic director Douglas Martin and the company’s ballet mistress Mary Barton, who starred in “Our Town” at its premiere. The two, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last week, knew Mr. Jerry from when they were all members of The Joffrey Ballet in the 1980s.

“He was very clear about what he wanted,” Ms. Barton said, recalling Mr. Jerry before a rehearsal of Our Town last week. “We only had a week to learn the ballet. But he was so articulate and such a good actor that he got me to fully understand what he wanted. And I relay that today, almost word for word.”

Ms. Barton played Emily Webb, a central character in the story of Grover’s Corners, an average, early 20th century New England town as depicted through the simplicity of everyday life. Emily’s childhood, her romance with George Gibbs (played by Mr. Martin), her death giving birth to her second child, and her wrenching return to Earth for just one day are the crux of the three-act play, which Mr. Jerry condensed into one act.

“Philip had done a first draft of it elsewhere, but not on professional dancers,” Ms. Barton continued. “When he set it on us, a professional company, it felt like it was real to him, I think. This was his first drama. He had done some ballets for Joffrey 2 [the Joffrey Ballet’s second company] that were strictly just movement. But this was what he was really great at, in my opinion. The music, by Aaron Copland, really sweeps you along. Philip arranged it beautifully and set it in such a way that it just flowed from your body.”

Mr. Jerry was first accepted at Princeton University in 1972, but he deferred to pursue a dance career in New York. He was a member of the Joffrey Ballet until 1991, when he left to enroll at the University. He graduated with honors in art history and a certificate in French.

“Philip was very well read and very intelligent,” said Mr. Martin, during a rehearsal break last week. “He understood what artists of the early 20th century did, and he was so smart at understanding character.” As a younger dancer with the Joffrey, Mr. Martin remembers following Mr. Jerry into several roles. “I spent a lot of time with him in the rehearsal hall,” he recalled. “I mean, he had learned the role of the Chinese Conjurer (in the revival of the historic 1917 ballet Parade by Leonide Massine) from Massine himself. He was my role model.”

The local connections with Our Town go back to Mr. Wilder’s day. He taught French at The Lawrenceville School between 1921 and 1928. While there, he earned a master’s degree in French from Princeton University. Mr. Wilder won his first Pulitzer, for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, before resigning from Lawrenceville in 1928. When Our Town premiered a decade later, it was at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre.

The ballet Our Town was also given its first viewing at McCarter. “We performed it with the scrim up, as the play had been done,” said Ms. Barton. “Then we did it again during Douglas’s first year as artistic director.”

Monica Giragosian and Cameron Auble Branigan play Emily and George in the current version of Our Town. Jumping up during rehearsal to demonstrate Emily and George’s loving glances at each other and the baby in Emily’s arms, Ms. Barton and Mr. Martin look completely believable as the young couple. “After I learned the ballet, I felt like I had become Emily,” Ms. Barton said. “It was very powerful.”

It’s all about simplicity, Mr. Martin tells the dancers. “When you do it right, you feel the righteousness of this New England town. It’s about community. It’s almost like a Capra film. It’s a day in the life of everybody, and people are doing so much. If the people in the background aren’t doing their job, it doesn’t work.”

The ballet “is more about the story than the steps,” Ms. Barton said. “The way Philip felt about it — and I’m sure he knew his situation — imbued you with how important a piece it was. You felt entrusted with something very precious.”

American Repertory Ballet performs Our Town, Confetti, Fantasy Baroque, and Dreams Interrupted Friday and Saturday, September 19 and 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Rider University’s Bart Luedeke Center. Tickets are $20; $10 for students and seniors. Call (609) 896-7775.

 

September 10, 2014
MURAL ART COMING TO PRINCETON: Shown here is a mural by artists of the S.A.G.E. Coalition that was created in Hopewell. This weekend S.A.G.E artists, Will “Kasso” Condry and James “Luv 1” Kelewae will create a mural for the Arts Council of Princeton. Inspired by the Underground Railroad, the mural will take shape behind the Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center throughout the day, beginning at noon, on Sunday, September 14. For more information, call (609) 924 8777, or visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

MURAL ART COMING TO PRINCETON: Shown here is a mural by artists of the S.A.G.E. Coalition that was created in Hopewell. This weekend S.A.G.E artists, Will “Kasso” Condry and James “Luv 1” Kelewae will create a mural for the Arts Council of Princeton. Inspired by the Underground Railroad, the mural will take shape behind the Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center throughout the day, beginning at noon, on Sunday, September 14. For more information, call (609) 924 8777, or visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

The walls may be small, but the subject of the mural that will cover them is large. And the artists who will carry it out are the larger than life Will “Kasso” Condry and James “Luv 1” Kelewae of Trenton’s S.A.G.E. Coalition, the Trenton-based nonprofit organization that was formed in 2012 to initiate, plan, and execute inner-city beautification projects.

The two artists will create a mural that will span two small brick walls behind the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) Paul Robeson Center for the Arts on Witherspoon Street. The work will be carried out and completed throughout the day on Sunday, September 14, beginning at noon.

The mural is inspired by the Underground Railroad and quilt-making tradition. The Underground Railroad was a web of routes covering thousands of miles, several of which ran through New Jersey. Sections were known as “stations,” and Station A ran through Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.

According to an ACP press release, “members of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, spoke out against slavery as early as the 1840s and assisted escaping slaves in their passage north.”

The father of Princeton’s Paul Robeson, after whom the ACP building is named, was a slave who escaped a Southern plantation and eventually settled in Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, where his son Paul was born. For a time, Paul Robeson’s father was minister of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church. Paul was born on April 9, 1898, in the church parsonage nearby. He graduated from Rutgers University and Columbia Law School and went on to international acclaim as an actor, singer, and humanitarian. He was an uncompromising champion of black civil rights.

Conceived by local curator, writer, teacher and photographer Ricardo Barros, the mural project will be one of several carried out by members of S.A.G.E., a diverse group of visual artists, engineers, fabricators, musicians and teachers, who create everything from murals to 3-D models.

“The mural will present a stylized, interpretive take on the Underground Railroad, reflecting the S.A.G.E. Coalition’s urban roots,” said Mr. Barros, a resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and ACP Exhibition Committee member. “The mural will not be visible from the street, but those viewers who choose to wander in and explore the “hidden” wall will experience the clandestine nature of the Underground Railroad as well as that of contemporary urban art.”

Kasso and Luv have already created a series of public art projects in Trenton, including a depiction of Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Barack Obama. The Gandhi mural in particular generated a surprisingly strong, positive, public response, which led to the transformation of a derelict, abandoned lot into a public urban garden, known as Gandhi’s Garden.

The artists are accustomed to completing their murals in one day and welcome a public audience. They also enjoy working to music, and live musicians and DJs will add to the festive occasion. It’s been rumored that a few break dancers may make an appearance as well.

“The ACP is proud to support the S.A.G.E. Coalition and bring their unique urban vision to Princeton,” said Executive Director Jeff Nathanson.

Founded in 1967, the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), is a non-profit organization with a mission of building community through the arts. Housed in the landmark Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, designed by architect Michael Graves, the ACP fulfills its mission by presenting a wide range of programs including exhibitions, performances, free community cultural events, and studio-based classes and workshops in a wide range of media. Arts Council of Princeton programs are designed to be high-quality, engaging, affordable, and accessible for the diverse population of the greater Princeton region.

The Arts Council of Princeton is located at 102 Witherspoon Street. The creation of the mural will coincide with the ACP’s Free Fall Open House, from noon to 3 p.m. and its annual Members’ Show, from 3 to 5 p.m. All events are open to the public and free of charge. Parking is available in the Spring and Hulfish Street Garages and at metered spots along Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson Place.

For additional information about the S.A.G.E. Coalition and to see photographs of previous work, visit http://sagecoalitionnj.com/. For more information about this event, please visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or contact Alyssa Gillon at agillon@artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777 x110.

 

September 3, 2014
FLIGHT PATTERNS: Work such as those shown above by award-winning artists Jennifer Cadoff (left) and Beatrice Bork (right) will be on display in an exhibition, titled “Flight Patterns,” at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville from September 4 through October 5. An opening reception will take place Saturday, September 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. and there will be Coffee and Conversation with the artists on Sunday, October 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. The gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and by appointment. For more information call (609) 397-4588, or visit: www.lambertvillearts.com. For more on the artists’s work, visit: www.beatricebork.artspan.com and www.jennifercadoff.com.

FLIGHT PATTERNS: Work such as those shown above by award-winning artists Jennifer Cadoff (left) and Beatrice Bork (right) will be on display in an exhibition, titled “Flight Patterns,” at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville from September 4 through October 5. An opening reception will take place Saturday, September 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. and there will be Coffee and Conversation with the artists on Sunday, October 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. The gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and by appointment. For more information call (609) 397-4588, or visit: www.lambertvillearts.com. For more on the artists’s work, visit: www.beatricebork.artspan.com and www.jennifercadoff.com.

Works by Beatrice Bork and Jennifer Cadoff will be showcased in an exhibition at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, from September 4 through October 5. Titled, “Flight/Patterns,” the exhibition explores rhythms, flight, textures, and patterns inspired by the natural world. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, September 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Coffee and Conversation with the artists on Sunday, October 5, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The show will include the latest paintings and drawings by these two award-winning artists and is their second collaboration in as many years.

Ms. Bork is an internationally-recognized wildlife artist whose watercolors capture animals, often, but not exclusively, birds, immersed in their natural habitat. The signature of Beatrice’s art is an ability to balance the intricate details of her animal subjects with loose brushwork, splashes of color, and unusual compositions that make her paintings thrum with life, said Ms. Cadoff.

Ms. Bork has won the prestigious Don Eckleberry Award for outstanding bird art from the Society of Animal Artists, of which she is a signature member. Her paintings have been published in a variety of books and magazines and acquired by collectors from around the world.

Ms. Cadoff makes intricate abstract ink drawings that suggest her close observation of natural patterns such as tree bark, rain, even cells under a microscope. She incorporates into some of her compositions the outlines of leaves, pine cones and other natural detritus that she collects on her walks, mesmerized by the infinite variations of their simple forms. Other work includes striking collages that play with dimension and form through combinations of patterns and textures.

“Jennifer creates thousands of small, simple marks that transform into wonderfully complex organic patterns that let your imagination take flight; they draw viewers in to discover and interpret — and each can see something totally different in her work,” said Ms. Bork.

The Artists’ Gallery has been a fixture in the Lambertville art scene for nearly 20 years, showcasing established local artists with regional and national reputations whose work is sought after by art lovers who visit the town from across the country and around the world. Each of the current gallery roster of 18 artists has work on display at all times. New work is hung every month, so there’s always something fresh and exciting for collectors to discover.

The gallery is located at 18 Bridge Street in the heart of historic Lambertville, and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and by appointment. For more information call (609) 397 4588, or visit: www.lambertvillearts.com. For more on the artists’s work, visit: www.beatricebork.artspan.com and www.jennifercadoff.com.

August 27, 2014
BROOM AND LUDLOW: That’s the title of this 18 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Hopewell artist Ken McIndoe, who will have a one-man show of his paintings in the Silva Gallery of Art at the Pennington school from September 3 through October 3. A reception with the artist will be held on Friday, September 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Pennington School is located at 112 W. Delaware Avenue in Pennington. For more information, call (609) 737-4133, or visit: www.pen nington.org/arts/silva-gallery-of-art.

BROOM AND LUDLOW: That’s the title of this 18 x 24 inch oil on canvas by Hopewell artist Ken McIndoe, who will have a one-man show of his paintings in the Silva Gallery of Art at the Pennington school from September 3 through October 3. A reception with the artist will be held on Friday, September 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Pennington School is located at 112 W. Delaware Avenue in Pennington. For more information, call (609) 737-4133, or visit: www.pen
nington.org/arts/silva-gallery-of-art.

Hopewell artist Ken McIndoe will exhibit his work, in a solo exhibition entitled “Paintings,” at The Pennington School’s Silva Gallery of Art. The exhibition opens on September 3 and continues through October 3. A reception with the artist will be held on Friday, September 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

An intense observer of life, Mr. McIndoe can capture and interpret an object, a scene, a person in a way that makes one pause with curiosity. In “Paintings,” Gallery Director Dolores Eaton has chosen to focus on Mr. McIndoe’s city scenes in an effort to highlight the enormous range found in the artist’s marks and use of color. The work ranges from painterly to almost completely abstract. Painted on-site in oils, the paintings capture what is happening in the moment. The artist has not reworked these paintings back in the studio.

Born in London, Mr. McIndoe lived his early childhood in Liberia and spent his schooling years in English boarding schools. Soon after his arrival in the United States in 1957 he enrolled at The Art Students League to study painting. In 1981 he became an instructor at The Arts Student League and continues to teach there today. He has conducted landscape workshops in Ireland, South Korea, Alaska, New York, and New Jersey.

Mr. McIndoe has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in New York and New Jersey, including the State Museum in Trenton. He is the recipient of two, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in 1987 and 2000.

The Silva Gallery of Art is the gallery of The Pennington School, 112 W. Delaware Avenue, Pennington, NJ 08534. Gallery Hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; or by appointment.

For more information, call (609) 737-4133, or visit: www.pennington.org/arts/silva-gallery-of-art.
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August 13, 2014
FACES OF THE NIGHT: This photograph by Wendy Paton will be part of an exhibition of 70 gelatin silver prints in the exhibition “Wendy Paton: Nuit Blanche” opening in the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown on Saturday, August 23. It is part of the artist’s “Visages de Nuit” series of 51 black and white candid night portraits, shot over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit: www.michenermuseum.org.(Image Courtesy of the Michener Art Museum).

FACES OF THE NIGHT: This photograph by Wendy Paton will be part of an exhibition of 70 gelatin silver prints in the exhibition “Wendy Paton: Nuit Blanche” opening in the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown on Saturday, August 23. It is part of the artist’s “Visages de Nuit” series of 51 black and white candid night portraits, shot over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit: www.michenermuseum.org. (Image Courtesy of the Michener Art Museum).

An installation of 70 gelatin silver prints by Wendy Paton are on view in “Wendy Paton: Nuit Blanche” at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown from Saturday, August 23 through December 7 in the Commonwealth and Pfundt Galleries.

An award winning fine art photographer, Wendy Paton was in the throes of a successful, ground breaking career training and driving Standardbred race horses in New York, when in 1981, her interest in photography emerged. She studied at the International Center of Photography in New York, learned the intricacies of night photography from Michael Kenna, and darkroom printing techniques from her mentor and collaborator, master printer Chuck Kelton.

The Michener exhibition consists of two bodies of work: “Nuit Blanche” comprises a premiere selection of Paton’s Visages de Nuit, complemented by a collection of her latest series, Reclaiming Dignity.

Visages de Nuit, is a collection of 51 black and white candid night portraits, shot over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012 in various international cities. The series of nocturnal images explores the mystery of the night and brings the viewer into her subject’s nighttime world. Ms. Paton’s dark and gritty images purposely convey her interpretation of the surreal quality of life at night, and what is hiding behind what we normally view as reality.

Reclaiming Dignity is a portfolio of the photographer’s vision of “abstract portraits,” faces and bodies of neglected cars, once coveted for their style, beauty, speed, and grace, left unattended and ignored for years, then given a chance to once again be admired and coveted; an opportunity to “reclaim their dignity.”

Both Visages de Nuit and Reclaiming Dignity share the common thread of a strong desire to visually document a contemporary vision of “portraits,” a creative portrayal of what the artist observes through her camera’s lens.

The execution of this work, size of prints, the choice to use black and white film, and the conscious style of printing in a traditional darkroom, were all vital in allowing Paton to produce this exhibition of gelatin silver photographs with the desired strong, emotional impact.

This exhibition is curated and organized by Lisa Tremper Hanover, Director and CEO of the Michener Art Museum and is supported by an anonymous friend of the Museum in honor of Padmini and Rajan as well as by Jay and Barbara Belding and Sandra and Conrad Leon. In-kind support is provided by Brilliant Graphics and Paris Framemakers.

Ms. Paton will speak about her work at the museum on September 16; she will conduct a weekend studio workshop, “Making Photograms/Darkroom & Cyanotype Technique,” from October 18 through October 19.

The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, Pa.

For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit: www.michenermuseum.org.

 

July 30, 2014
BYGONE BARBERS: This shot of the interior of Jack Honore’s Barbershop, which opened on Nassau Street around 1913, is among the 90 bringing the town’s past to life in the show currently on view at the Historical Society of Princeton’s two locations.      (Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Princeton)

BYGONE BARBERS: This shot of the interior of Jack Honore’s Barbershop, which opened on Nassau Street around 1913, is among the 90 bringing the town’s past to life in the show currently on view at the Historical Society of Princeton’s two locations. (Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Princeton)

Most towns the size of Princeton have collections of historical photographs that offer clear clues to the past. But few can claim treasure troves as extensive as that of the Historical Society of Princeton. Thanks to the town’s bygone and long-active Rose Photography Studio, as well as others adept with a camera, everyday life in 19th and early 20th century Princeton is especially well documented.

An exhibit currently on view in the Historical Society’s two locations, at Bainbridge House at 158 Nassau Street and Updike Farm on Quaker Road, shows an exceptional range. Many of the images in “Princeton’s Portrait: Vintage Photographs from the Historical Society of Princeton” have never been previously exhibited. The show divides 90 shots  between the two locations.

During a break in the installation process last week, guest curator Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier, who has developed past exhibitions at the Historical Society, reflected on its archives. “The breadth and diversity of the collection here is remarkable,” she said. “It’s especially strong for the late 1800s and early 1900s. I also appreciate it for its very rich collection reflecting the long-standing African-American community in Princeton. That, I think, is truly unusual.”

In a 1920 photo, Philip Diggs, Princeton Borough’s first African-American police officer, poses proudly in his uniform. Images run the gamut, showing many aspects of life in town and in rural settings. There is the interior of Hulit’s shoe store in the 1930s, a bit different from the way it looks today. A group of employees stand in front of 120 Nassau Street,  known then as Leggett’s City Market; another worker can be seen looking out of the window from within.

The show is divided into different categories, showing Princeton residents at home, at play, and at work. Dated 1911 is an exterior shot of the Central Hotel, which was later home to Lahiere’s restaurant and today houses the popular eatery Agricola. J. D. Lawrence’s ambulance, which doubled as a hearse, is shown in a 1923 photo. A group of salesmen inside Farr’s Hardware at Nassau and Mercer Street is dated 1900.

Among the photos depicting lighter moments is one from 1897 showing the Jared Wolfe family, clowning around with musical instruments on their porch at 19 Vandeventer Street. Another shot shows a potato sack race in Rocky Hill from 1908. In an image from around 1910, Princeton University students are dressed up for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A sign held by one student reads, “They furnish the beans, I spill the hot air.”

Princeton’s Rose Studio, which documented life in town and on the campus from the early 1870s to 1951, is the source for many, but not all, of the images in the show. “It was very hard to choose what to use,” said Daniel Schnur, the exhibition’s designer. “So we had our intern put them on a DVD that will run and show all the ones we couldn’t use.”

That intern, Princeton native and recent Princeton University graduate Isabel Kasdin, was struck by what she found when combing through the collection. “It was a true joy looking through every plate and print within our tens of thousands of photographs,” she wrote in an email. “I was struck with awe as I flipped over each new treasure. There were some wonderful surprises along the way, such as discovering an 1850s daguerrotype from the studio of Mathew Brady, one of the most famous early American photographers. I feel so  lucky to have access to so extensive a visual representation of the history of the town in which I grew up.”

Prints from the show are available for purchase, with proceeds going to help support the Historical Society. The organization will move all of its operations to Updike Farm in 2016. Bainbridge House is owned by Princeton University, which has yet to announce its plans for the building.

Admission to the show is $4. On Nassau Street, hours are Wednesday-Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The exhibit is on view at Updike Farm from 12-4 p.m. the first Saturday of every month. Visit www.princetonhistory.org for more information.

 

July 23, 2014
THE AWAKENING: Sited on the Meadow at Grounds for Sculpture, this 2014 cast aluminum work from J. Seward Johnson’s “Points of Departure” series is on display with 136 other works, large and small, in Seward Johnson: The Retrospective is on view through September 21. For extended summer hours and admission, visit: www.groundsforsculpture.org.(Photo by Jeff Tryon)

THE AWAKENING: Sited on the Meadow at Grounds for Sculpture, this 2014 cast aluminum work from J. Seward Johnson’s “Points of Departure” series is on display with 136 other works, large and small, in Seward Johnson: The Retrospective is on view through September 21. For extended summer hours and admission, visit: www.groundsforsculpture.org. (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

A retrospective of the work of sculptor J. Seward Johnson is currrently on view at Grounds for Sculpture (GFS), the sculpture park and arboretum founded by the philanthropic artist on the site of the old New Jersey Fairgrounds in Hamilton.

Known throughout the world for life-like bronze figures inspired by the everyday, Mr. Johnson is something of an institution in Princeton. Several of his pieces: the student with his books on Palmer Square, the gentleman reading a newspaper by Battle Monument, and the man taking a nap on one of Drumthwacket’s garden benches are familiar to all.

Similar works by Mr. Johnson can be see throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia; examples of the artist’s “Celebrating the Familiar” series depicting a trip to the grocery story, say, or arriving at a hospital, or a child enjoying an ice cream cone.

“My starting point was a wish to get people back out-of-doors in the early 70s when a crime wave had people avoiding public spaces,” said Johnson when interviewed for Princeton Magazine in 2012. “I wanted to put sculptures into parks to act like decoys and entice people back to parks.”

To date, “Seward Johnson: The Retrospective” is the largest exhibition mounted at the sculpture park, which is quite an achievement after its showcasing of the massive works of Steve Tobin in 2012. Not only are there 287 works by Mr. Johnson on display, some of his biggest pieces have been dismantled from elsewhere and brought here for the show.

The outsize exhibition is fitting for Mr. Johnson’s outsize personality. Some 150 pieces are installed indoors and outdoors at the 42-acre site and if you haven’t been there recently, make tracks; the show will only last through September 21.

Elements of surprise are characteristic of GFS. The park brings art and nature together. The winning combination drew some 160,000 visitors last year. “Each time you visit, you experience the park differently, the sequence is never the same and there’s a freshness that comes with that,” said Mr. Johnson in a recent interview.

As expected, the retrospective includes some of the 83-year-old artist’s most unforgettable works. His 26-foot-tall 34,000-pound steel-and-aluminum, Forever Marilyn, traveled all the way from Palm Springs back to New Jersey where it was constructed.

This iconic representation captures a moment from the 1955 Billy Wilder comedy The Seven Year Itch, in which Monroe luxuriates in an updraft from a subway air vent, her white skirt billowing around her legs. The sculpture was such a hit in Palm Springs that the town hopes to buy it from its owner, The Sculpture Foundation, and put it back on permanent display once the GFS show ends.

Mr. Johnson’s most famous work, Unconditional Surrender, is a must-see. It’s his 3-D version of the famous kiss between a sailor and a nurse in New York’s Times Square on V-J Day at the end of World War II and it is one of his most charismatic trompe l’oeil painted bronzes.

As anyone who has met the artist will tell you, Mr. Johnson loves to tell a story and relishes a battle. Unconditional Surrender, involved him in a battle of sorts when the owners of the copyright to LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s image, refused him permission to use it. With typical bravado, Mr. Johnson based his work on another photograph of the same kissing couple taken on the same day at the same time by another photographer, one whose work happened to be in public domain.

When the sculpture was finished it took pride of place in Times Square where a kissing fest was held and written up by The New York Times. Not only did Mr. Johnson write to TIME to tell them about it, he asked them to contribute $50K to the project!

Also on a grand scale at 25 feet in height, the kissing couple has traveled the world from Times Square to San Diego, from Sarasota to Rome.

Besides these massive pieces and the artist’s Beyond the Frame life-size three-dimensional homages to Claude Monet’s Garden at Sainte-Addresse and Edouard Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, smaller pieces from the artist’s five-decade career are on display in three indoor galleries.

“At GFS we try to break down barriers,” says Johnson, who believes in separating sculpture from the landscape so that one “discovers” what is to be found. The avuncular octogenarian enjoys having fun with visitors. The sculpture park has numerous hidden spaces tucked away for quiet reflection: behind doors, through corridors of trees, around corners, over hills, or behind walls.

Were You Invited?, his three-dimensional life-size version of Renoir’s, The Boating Party, playfully allows visitors to get up close and personal with the work.

Such explorations cultivate what Mr. Johnson describes as “the visceral moment,” when viewers engage with art to transcend their own place in space and time. He deliberately provokes engagement between artwork, artist, setting, and viewer. “The real moment of art is in the eye of the beholder,” he said, “that’s a moment of consecration; if the artwork has changed a life, then it has done its job.”

GFS has grown since Mr. Johnson led the team that transformed the once derelict site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. What began as an offshoot of the artist’s foundry, The Johnson Atelier, and the need for a place to show the work that artists were doing there to prospective clients, is now a showcase for prominent and emerging artists. It became a non-profit organization in 1992.

Mindful of his legacy, the artist asked Derek Gilman for advice on avoiding some of the mistakes made by Albert Barnes. “There is a need for some flexible thinking here,” he said. “I don’t want what happened to Barnes to happen here. Barnes fell out with everyone. I like a good fight too, but there’s a difference, Barnes had no sense of humor!”

A sense of humor Johnson has. And fun is a huge part of the GFS philosophy. “Let MOMA tell people what good art is, we will find out what people enjoy,” said the artist.

For more information on “Seward Johnson: The Retrospective,” including extended summer hours and admission, visit: www.groundsforsculpture.org.

 

July 16, 2014
DANCING SUNFLOWERS: Christine Ochab-DiCostanzo’s painting of this title will be among her works on display, along with photography by members of PEAC Health at Fitness, during the month of August at 1440 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing, Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the artist, visit www.artsbychristine fineart.com. For more information about the exhibition, visit www.peachealthfitness.com.

DANCING SUNFLOWERS: Christine Ochab-DiCostanzo’s painting of this title will be among her works on display, along with photography by members of PEAC Health at Fitness, during the month of August at 1440 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing, Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the artist, visit www.artsbychristine
fineart.com. For more information about the exhibition, visit www.peachealthfitness.com.

As part of its “Art on Display” program, PEAC Health & Fitness will showcase a combined artwork display of photography from PEAC members and paintings from local artist Christine Ochab-DiCostanzo during the month of August.

PEAC’s member photography exhibition will give PEAC members a chance to share their photography skills with others. “It’s a fun way to see the creativity and talents of our members,” said PEAC President, Michael Briehler.

In addition, Christine Ochab-DiCostanzo of Ringoes, will exhibit her paintings. Ms. Ochab-DiCostanzo has been interested in art since she was young, studied at the DuCret School of Art in Plainfield, N.J., and continually takes classes and workshops to develop her skills. She finds inspiration wherever she looks and believes that “art captures the love and feeling you put into it.”

She is a member of Artsbridge artist community. In April 2014, one of her pieces won the “People’s Choice Award” at the 28th Annual Byers Buck’s Fever Art Exhibition. She has also received Honorable Mention for the past two years at the Hunterdon County Library Art Show. This will be her first exhibit at PEAC Health & Fitness.

“Art on Display,” will run at PEAC Health and Fitness, 1440 Lower Ferry Road, Ewing, from August 1 through 31, during regular business hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the artist, visit www.artsbychristinefineart.com.
For more information about the PEAC Art on Display program, contact Christine Tentilucci, PEAC Health and Fitness, at (609) 883-2000, ctentilucci@peachealthfitness.com, or visit www.peachealthfitness.com.

 

 

July 9, 2014
(Image courtesy of The B Home Project)

(Image courtesy of The B Home Project)

An experimental project to design homes based on sustainable building practices is the focus of a gathering this Saturday, July 12, on the grounds of D&R Greenway Land Trust, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The B Home Project is described as “out-of-the box spaces made from reclaimed materials” as well as “a living arts installation.” These sculptural-architectural-communal dwellings are the brainchild of artist Pete Abrams and engineer Graham Apgar.

The structures are designed to provide low cost shelters with applications ranging from disaster relief, to eco-tourism, to alternative dwellings for under-served populations.

Built from shipping pallets and other post-industrial and natural materials such as steel pipes, recycled tires, and bamboo, examples are currently on display at D&R Greenway, including three single cells and one three-cell structure. At Saturday’s event, a transportable bakery and community gathering space, the mobile bread house, will also be on view.

The B Home modular shelter system was developed several years ago in collaboration with Princeton University professor Wole Soboyejo and the Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program. The idea is to provide a fast, cheap way to provide shelter and security for those in need. Unlike tents and trailers, the B Home is also designed to support a sustainable community.

As its name suggests, it was inspired by the geometric efficiency of honey bees.

“The display at the D&R Greenway is more of an art installation, although it was originally developed as an emergency shelter system,” said Mr. Abrams who lives in Princeton and works from a studio on North Clinton Street in Trenton. “I’ve been working on this since last August every month on the evening of the full moon. I’m a bit of a hippie, I guess, and the moon is a reminder of how much time I have left before my next effort.”

The installations can be explored outdoors at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place (off Rosedale Road), Princeton through August 15.

For more information about the B Home Project, visit: thebhome.wikispaces.com/. To follow the project’s progress, visit: thebhome.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/bhomenow.

 

June 25, 2014
MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE: From left: a detail from Steve Tobin’s “Steelroot” sculpture, his cast and welded bronze “Syntax,” and his “Earth Bronze.” All are on view in the exhibition “Out of This World: Works by Steve Tobin,” opening at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown this Saturday, June 28. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit michener artmuseum.org.(Photograph by Kenneth Ek)

MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE: From left: a detail from Steve Tobin’s “Steelroot” sculpture, his cast and welded bronze “Syntax,” and his “Earth Bronze.” All are on view in the exhibition “Out of This World: Works by Steve Tobin,” opening at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown this Saturday, June 28. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit michener
artmuseum.org. (Photograph by Kenneth Ek)

For anyone who missed the incredible New Jersey showing of Steve Tobin’s work at Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) in 2012, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown offers another chance to view art by this Bucks County native, including the massive Steelroots that dominated the GFS outdoor sculpture garden.

The Michener’s show opens this Saturday, June 28, and continues through October 26. It’s title, “Out of This World: Works by Steve Tobin,” reflects the choice of monumental works in steel, bronze, and clay.

The exhibition features a broad range of the work Mr. Tobin has produced during the last decade including Exploded Earth Vessels, and Forest Floors from his Earth Bronzes series.

Curated by Museum Director and CEO, Lisa Tremper Hanover, the exhibition takes the Michener beyond its usual location and out into the community. In addition to works on view in the Paton/Smith/Della Penna-Fernberger Galleries, the Fred Beans Gallery, the Sculpture Garden and as part of the Outdoor Sculpture Program, the exhibition includes outdoor placements throughout Doylestown. Playing on the sheer size of Mr. Tobin’s works, Ms. Hanover has turned Doylestown into a museum by placing his Steelroots and Walking Roots in the town.

With the cooperation of George Ball, chairman and CEO of W. Atlee Burpee Company, she has also brought sculpture to the grounds and gardens of the nearby Fordhook Farm.

As part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, free passes to Fordham Farm will be available from the museum on the opening day of the exhibition with the cost of general admission.

Mr. Tobin is perhaps best known for his epic work, Trinity Root, permanently sited at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway in Lower Manhattan. He cast the root system of the 80-year-old Sycamore tree that had stood across the street from the World Trade Center in the churchyard of the Trinity/St. Paul’s Chapel. First responders to Ground Zero had taken shelter there. Dedicated on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2005, the sculpture was “a massive undertaking of 20,000 man hours,” recalled Tobin in an interview for Princeton Magazine in 2012. “It incorporates the dirt and DNA of that place.”

Mr. Tobin’s work has been shown at numerous museums and outdoor venues across the country in New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. His larger pieces reference Stonehenge and the monuments of Easter Island and the Great Pyramids.

Initially trained as a scientist, Mr. Tobin has described his work as closer to visual philosophy than art history. After graduating from Tulane University in 1979 with a Bachelor’s in mathematics, he studied glassmaking at the Pilchuck Glass School, founded by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and others. In 1989, he became the first foreigner invited to build his own studio in Murano, Italy. By 1994, he was building his first foundry and casting in bronze.

Of the Michener show, Ms. Hanover said: “The soaring steel sculptures echo the stretched elegance of his early glass work; and the Earth Bronzes are filled with whimsy and capture the residue of a forest floor, complete with pine needles and insects. Visitors will be confronted with an array of exploded clay vessels that reveal majestic interiors of glass and dynamite-incised textures.”

Mr. Tobin has exhibited extensively throughout the world, including New York’s American Museum of Natural History; the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus complex in Los Angeles; and in museums, art fairs, and public sites in Italy, Russia, China, and Finland.

“I thank Lisa and the Michener for the opportunity of bringing it all back home,” said Tobin. “While my work has taken me far and wide, from the deserts of Ghana to the caves of Nutijarva in Finland, its genesis and inspiration originated in the treehouse of my youth, along Philadelphia’s Main Line.”

“The long arc of Steve Tobin’s success will be celebrated at the Michener with a dynamic installation that recalls his own roots in Bucks County and the Philadelphia region,” said Ms. Hanover. “We are proud to present Tobin’s work … to an audience eager to interact with articulate and engaging artists.”

“Out of This World: Works by Steve Tobin” is supported by Visit Bucks County and an anonymous friend of the Michener. Along with the show, there will be a lecture about the artist’s work on July 22; tours of his Quakertown studio on August 21 and September 5; and contemporary dance performances on August 27 and September 21.

The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, Pa. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. from 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit www.michenerartmuseum.org.

 

June 18, 2014
SPECIES ON THE EDGE: Calendar Cover Atlantic Green Sea Turtle by Roslynn Jumbo of Essex County’s Ann Street School, Newark.(Photo Courtesy of Ann Street School, Newark)

SPECIES ON THE EDGE: Calendar Cover Atlantic Green Sea Turtle by Roslynn Jumbo of Essex County’s Ann Street School, Newark. (Photo Courtesy of Ann Street School, Newark)

 

An exhibition of artwork by New Jersey fifth graders will be on display in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, through Friday, August 29.

“The Best of Species on the Edge” calls attention to the state’s endangered and threatened wildlife and features work submitted by the state’s fifth-grade students to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Conserve Wildlife’s Maria Grace has selected the best of the submissions from 2008 to 2013 for this show. Ms. Grace is the Foundation’s departing Education and Outreach Manager and the show includes an arresting array of personal favorites of winning wildlife art by fifth graders from every New Jersey county.

Named in memory of Olivia Kuenne, the Olivia Rainbow Gallery presents children’s art. Among the items currently on view are multiple winners from Mercer, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset counties.

They include a bobcat by a Warren County home-schooled student, Joseph Hernandez. It is part of an array of bobcat images that Ms. Grace has curated in order to remind viewers that this elusive wild creature can be found in healthy habitat in our state, primarily the northwest section.

Conserve Wildlife publishes an annual calendar of winners and the 2014 cover image is “Atlantic Green Sea Turtle,” by Roslynn Jumbo, a student at Essex County’s Ann Street School, of Newark. Her fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Cardoso and free copies of the calendar may be obtained at the D&R Greenway gallery.

Also on view are images of the elusive Pine Barrens tree frog, peregrine falcon, shortnose sturgeon, and timber rattlesnake. The variety of subjects and lively representations are tributes to New Jersey’s fifth-grade teachers, as well as to Maria Grace’s management of this program over her years as Education and Outreach Manager.

D&R Greenway exhibits this art annually, joining with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, to call attention to the urgency and importance of preserving Garden State habitat for all creatures. New Jersey is home to over 80 endangered and threatened species of wildlife. It is not unusual for this contest to result in over 2,000 entries.

““Best of ‘Species on the Edge’” in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery, D&R Greenway Land Trust can be viewed weekdays during business hours. Admission is free, open to public, no need to call for availability. For more information on Conserve Wildlife Foundation of N.J., visit: www.conservewild
lifenj.org; For more on the D&R Greenway Land Trust, call (609) 924-4646, or visit: www.drgreenway.org.

———

 

June 11, 2014
KISSIN’ THE BOSS: Mike Gordon, bass guitarist and founding member of the rock band Phish, couldn’t resist bussing the cheek of his idol, Bruce Springsteen, albeit a scuptured version by Princeton artist Stephen Zorochin. The sculpture, shown here when it was displayed in Long Branch, is now at the corner of Faculty and Alexander Roads. It is featured in a newly published Rock Atlas: “The Musical Landscape of America” by David Roberts, a guide to great music locations across the country.(Image Courtesy of the artist).

KISSIN’ THE BOSS: Mike Gordon, bass guitarist and founding member of the rock band Phish, couldn’t resist bussing the cheek of his idol, Bruce Springsteen, albeit a scuptured version by Princeton artist Stephen Zorochin. The sculpture, shown here when it was displayed in Long Branch, is now at the corner of Faculty and Alexander Roads. It is featured in a newly published Rock Atlas: “The Musical Landscape of America” by David Roberts, a guide to great music locations across the country. (Image Courtesy of the artist).

Commuters to and from Princeton using the Alexander corridor will have noticed new artwork at the corner of Alexander and Faculty Roads. Sited at Larini’s Service Center and gas station, the bust of famed New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen is drawing the interest of local residents and tour bus visitors alike.

Titled, “Bruce Springsteen, Soulful Humanitarian,” Steve Zorochin’s sculpture has placed Princeton on the map of rock music history through its appearance in a newly published book, Rock Atlas USA: The Musical Landscape of America by David Roberts, which pays homage to legends of American music. Mr. Zorochin’s sculpture is featured inside and also prominently on the back cover between photos of Janis Joplin and a pink Cadillac.

The cast cement sculpture, which has a hand-patinated finish that gives it the look of bronze, was previously displayed in Asbury Park and Long Branch, places of significance in Mr. Springsteen’s life. Its current location recalls the first day of November 1978, when “The Boss,” performed at Jadwin Gymnasium on the Princeton University campus.

“I really admire Bruce as a humanitarian. He’s keeping it real, man, there’s nothing pretentious about him,” said Mr Zorochin, in a phone interview from his home on Jefferson Street. “I’m grateful to Ken Larini for giving me a location for the Springsteen piece, even though I’m sure he’d probably prefer Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Here it is on the corner of what will be Princeton University’s newest arts campus.”

Born and raised in Princeton, where he graduated from Princeton High School in 1970, Mr. Zorochin lived for a while in Manasquan. But when his home was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, he moved back to Princeton where he is currently recovering from a fall in February on the ice outside his home. He suffered a massive haematoma and credits neurosurgeon Seth Joseffer of the Princeton Brain and Spine Institute for saving his life. “As soon as Dr. Seth saw me, he told me to call my wife. His prognosis was that I had to have immediate surgery, but after five days, I walked home,” he said.

Inspirational Mentors

The artist also credits two major influences on his life and work, his former Princeton neighbor, the folk singer Cynthia Gooding (1924-1988), and noted figure sculptor Joe Brown (1909-1985), a professor at Princeton University until retiring in 1977.

Born in Minnesota and brought up in the midwest, Ms. Gooding moved to New York City, to develop her musical career. She performed there in the mid 1940s, including long standing appearances at the Club Soho in Greenwich Village. One of the first musicians to appear on the Elektra label, she is remembered for a 1962 interview she did with Bob Dylan on the radio show she hosted for WBAI.

“She was a national treasure, pre-Joan Baez,” said Mr. Zorochin. “I had a chance to meet a lot of interesting people who came to her house.” Although inspired by Ms. Gooding, Mr. Zorochin didn’t follow her lead into folk music. When he sang, it was classical music, performed with Princeton Pro Musica.

Professor Brown specialized in sculptures that depicted athletes, which is no surprise, since he had been one himself. The son of Russian immigrants, he grew up poor in South Philadelphia He won a football scholarship to Temple University but left before graduating to work as a professional boxer before turning to the arts. He was the boxing coach at Princeton University until the late 1960s and a professor of art from 1962. His works are featured on numerous college campuses and in collections that include the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His monumental Benjamin Franklin-Craftsman (1981) sits at the corner of Broad Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Philadelphia. “Joe Brown took a kid wandering around campus and gave me direction,” remembered Mr. Zorochin, who went on to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Boston Museum School.

Springsteen

Mr. Springsteen lives in Colts Neck and is known for guarding his privacy. So how did the sculptor work without a sitter? “Though it’s always great to model from life, I used shots from movies to inform the work, in particular Bruce as he appears singing ‘One Trick Pony,’ the song he wrote for the Mickey Rourke film, The Wrestler,” said Mr. Zorochin.

“Bruce Springsteen uses his art to help people and that’s what art is all about,” said Mr. Zorochin. “When he played Jadwin Gym, I wasn’t so much a fan of his then, I was more interested in blues and had my own garage band for a time.” Still, the artist is planning a full length portrait of the New Jersey rocker as a way of “paying respects.” “When I showed the head to Springsteen’s first drummer, Jimmy Lopez, who was playing in Freehold recently, he told me: ‘Dead on, man, beautiful.’”

He’s also at work on a portrait of Sid Bernstein, the man who brought The Beatles to Shea Stadium and the Rolling Stones to the Academy of Music in Manhattan.

According to the sculptor, his “real anchor piece,” is a monumental tribute to Captain John T. Dempster that stands outside the Mercer County Fire Training Center on Basin Road. “Dempster, who was know as ‘Cap’ was quite a character in the Trenton Fire Department; he was 85 when I did this life-size portrait of him.” The sculptor was later commissioned to create the bronze award presented to recipients of the David N. Kershaw Award in commemoration of the first president of Mathematica Policy Research in Princeton. In addition, he has created two crosses, one Catholic and one Protestant, for the Princeton University Memorial Chapel, and numerous bronze commemorative plaques.

 

June 4, 2014

When Princeton resident Robert Ross decided to donate his priceless collection of medals and honors to his alma mater Princeton University, he wanted to be sure that the items would be seen and studied by more than a select handful of numismatic experts.

The exhibition “From a Thankful Nation: Latin American Medals and Orders from the Robert L. Ross Collection at Princeton University” displayed in the gallery just inside the door of the University’s Firestone Library in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections does just that.

An enthusiastic collector since he bought his first World War II medal at the age of 13, Mr. Ross has learned over the years that even the simplest of objects has a story to tell.

Take, for example, one tiny medal struck to commemorate the first battle fought in a river by steam ships iron clad for war, “the most technologically advanced warfare at the time,” said Mr. Ross. Or the touching tale associated with a somewhat dull looking metal wedding band created by the government of Paraguay as a token of gratitude to soldiers’ wives who had given up their gold wedding bands in support of the effort during The Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay, considered one of the bloodiest of South American conflicts.

Little known characters from history also step into view, such as William Walker (1824-1860), the American adventurer from Nashville, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, intent on carving out his own English-speaking colony. Walker ruled the Republic of Nicaragua from 1856 until 1857 until he came to a bad end. Defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, he was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) makes an appearance for his support of the Panama Canal. And there are Brazilian Air Force medals for service during World War II and orders of the Latin American Red Cross orders.

“Some of this history has yet to be written,” said Mr. Ross. For history buffs interested in Latin America and its evolution, the show is a magnet. Displayed chronologically, the exhibition relates a history that began in Europe around the time of the Crusades before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to play out in Brazil, Haiti, and Mexico under the Emperor Maximilian.

Some of the medals and honors were struck to influence power, others to hold on to it, by heads of state eager to encourage and reward loyalty.

Besides plain coin-like medals there are jewel-encrusted and enameled star-bursts on elaborate silk ribbons and bows, the outward manifestations of bravery, self-sacrifice, and hope for freedom as well as self aggrandizement.

THE ORDER OF THE ROSE: This Imperial Order from Brazil is on display as part of the exhibition “From a Thankful Nation: Latin American Medals and Orders from the Robert L. Ross Collection at Princeton University” in Firestone Library. Spanning two centuries from the rise of movements for political independence through to the present, the exhibition includes Spanish religious-military orders that had their origin in the Crusades and the Reconquista; the first medals issued in colonial Latin America; the many decorations awarded during the 19th-century; and a new generation of 20th-century republican orders for diplomatic, military, political, and cultural achievements. For more information, call (609) 258-3184 or visit: http://library.princeton.edu/about/hours.(Photo by John Blazejewski)

THE ORDER OF THE ROSE: This Imperial Order from Brazil is on display as part of the exhibition “From a Thankful Nation: Latin American Medals and Orders from the Robert L. Ross Collection at Princeton University” in Firestone Library. Spanning two centuries from the rise of movements for political independence through to the present, the exhibition includes Spanish religious-military orders that had their origin in the Crusades and the Reconquista; the first medals issued in colonial Latin America; the many decorations awarded during the 19th-century; and a new generation of 20th-century republican orders for diplomatic, military, political, and cultural achievements. For more information, call (609) 258-3184 or visit: http://library.princeton.edu/about/hours. (Photo by John Blazejewski)

Commemorating the bicentennial of the beginning of the movements that would bring about independence in several Latin American countries, the exhibition features selections from Mr. Ross’s definitive collection.

A treasury of history and politics, the exhibition reveals much about the ambitious leaders who bestowed such honors, like the 20th century dictators Rafael Trujillo (1891 -1961), Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) and Fidel Castro.

“You can learn a lot about a leader by looking at the orders he created,” said Mr. Ross, pointing out that Trujillo’s was a personal dictatorship while Pinochet’s was a military junta. The former created four orders, one for each branch of the military, the army, navy, air, and the militarized police, in contrast with Castro. “In Cuba, you won’t find a street or city named for Fidel Castro. His isn’t a personal dictatorship like Trujillo’s,” said Mr. Ross.

“No modern Latin American country has done more to exploit the traditional medium of the awarded medal as a tool for promotion of its governing regime than Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” commented exhibition curator Alan M. Stahl, in reference to Cuba’s Order of Che Guevara. “Dozens of medals and orders have been created and distributed to recognize efforts on behalf of literacy and agriculture, as well as military and political actions. The Order of Che Guevara is especially emblematic in depicting one of the iconic martyrs of the Cuban Revolution to reward individuals ‘for exceptional military merit in the fight against imperialism and colonialism.’”

Latin America’s political independence is most commonly associated with Simón Bolívar (1783–1830), the Venezuelan revolutionary general who led republican armies to liberate Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru beginning in 1813. Venezuela awards an order named exclusively for him, The Order of the Liberator, which is traditionally worn by the Venezuelan president to symbolize sovereign power and comes in six grades, of which you can see the Collar, the Grand Cross, and the Officer grade on display.

As Mr. Ross led a small group through the exhibition recently, he enthusiastically shared his knowledge, relating stories as he went.

“The origin of these orders goes back to the 11th century in the Holy Land,” he said before going on to explain that an order is a confraternity approved by Papal decree, or “bull.” Besides hospital and military orders, religious/military orders were formed to fight Muslims during the Crusades. Today, many such orders have evolved to have humanitarian purposes, like the U.K.’s St. John’s Ambulance Service. Many were founded by kings, although The French Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon.

Also interesting are the indigenous adaptations such as Guatemala’s Order of the Quetzal, named after a beloved local bird. Given to nationals and foreigners for international, civic, scientific, literary, or artistic services of benefit to the nation, according to Mr. Stahl, “it is is one of the few Latin American medals to incorporate indigenous art motifs.”

Asked how he had kept his collection before he donated it to Princeton, Mr. Ross responded “nervously.” It’s easy to see why. While some are worth more in terms of historic interest than monetary value, others are masterful creations of precious metals and stones.

Purchased by Mr. Ross at auctions in Europe, the collection now has a safe home in the Firestone Library where it has been documented by a thoroughly researched and fully-illustrated 700 page catalogue with 969 color photographs, and is being made available for study. The catalogue can be purchased for $125 from the office of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

“From a Thankful Nation: Latin American Medals and Orders from the Robert L. Ross Collection at Princeton University” will be on display through August 3. Admission is free. For more information and gallery hours, call (609) 258-3184 or visit: http://library.princeton.edu/about/hours.

 

May 28, 2014
MARK ROTHKO: This untitled 1968 (100 x 63.5 cm) oil on paper laid down on canvas by the American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) comes from the collection of Princeton University alumnus Preston H. Haskell (Class of 1960) and will be featured in the exhibition, “Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell,” through Sunday, opening Saturday, May 24 at the Princeton University Art Museum. (Image courtesy of Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

MARK ROTHKO: This untitled 1968 (100 x 63.5 cm) oil on paper laid down on canvas by the American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) comes from the collection of Princeton University alumnus Preston H. Haskell (Class of 1960) and will be featured in the exhibition, “Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell,” through Sunday, opening Saturday, May 24 at the Princeton University Art Museum.
(Image courtesy of Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

Princeton University alumnus Preston H. Haskell III (Class of 1960), will discuss the process of collecting modern and contemporary art in conversation with Pulitzer Prize–winning author and art critic Mark Stevens (Class of 1973) this Friday, May 30, at 3 p.m. in the University’s McCormick Hall, Room 101.

The event follows a book signing at 2:30 p.m. and precedes a reception in the galleries.

Mr. Haskell’s talk, “Collecting Abstraction,” highlights Princeton University Art Museum’s newest exhibition, “Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting From the Collection of Preston H. Haskell,” which opened last Saturday.

The exhibition features 27 paintings by some of the most important artists of the 20th century and provides a window onto the evolution of process, mark-making, and abstraction in the second half of the 20th century.

Mr. Haskell is a long-standing Museum benefactor and former chair of its Advisory Council.

“Rothko to Richter,” features work by 23 pioneering American, European, and Canadian artists, including Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Jean Dubuffet, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella.

The work on display is drawn from the period between 1950 and 1990, an era whose commitment to artistic experimentation is rivaled only by the first decades of the 20th century, when abstraction was first introduced in Europe and America.

These 40 years were a time of extraordinary creative ferment, when the very nature of abstract painting was hotly contested. The world of abstract art saw some dramatic developments. Experimentation with various methods of applying paint to a surface was common, with results that sometimes emphasized and sometimes obliterated traces of the artist’s hand.

Part of the exhibition focuses on artists like Jack Goldstein and Robert Rauschenberg who examine abstraction and mark-making in a way that is self-conscious and with a considerable degree of irony. Such work examines notions of authenticity and expression.

Curated by Kelly Baum, Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, the eponymous exhibition explores how changes in process and technique, specifically in mark-making, signal broader changes to abstract painting. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, published by the Museum. The catalogue has illustrations of all 27 paintings on view as well as contributions from Ms. Baum and essays on the artists.

The artists whose work Mr. Haskell collected represent movements as diverse as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Minimalism, Op art and Postmodernism. They sought to redefine abstraction for new social and cultural milieus.

“Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting From the Collection of Preston H. Haskell” will be on view through October 5. The exhibition will then travel to The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, for an exhibition opening January 2015.

There will also be a lecture by Ms. Baum, titled “Mark, Maker, Method,” in the University’s McCosh 50, on Thursday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m.

Admission to the Princeton University Art Museum is free. Gallery hours are: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. In addition, the exhibition will be open on Sunday, June 1, and Monday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 258-3788, or visit: www.artmuseum.princeton.edu.

 

May 21, 2014
LET YOUR IMAGINATION PLAY: Fine art photographer Martha Weintraub hopes that visitors to her show at Gallery 14, opening this Friday in Hopewell, will provide their own narratives to work that has the feel of children’s book illustrations. Ms. Weintraub is joined by fellow photographer David Wurtzel for an exhibition that runs May 23 through June 22. An opening reception will take place Friday, May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. and there will be an opportunity to meet the photographers at the gallery Sunday, May 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-8511, or visit: www.photogallery14.com.

LET YOUR IMAGINATION PLAY: Fine art photographer Martha Weintraub hopes that visitors to her show at Gallery 14, opening this Friday in Hopewell, will provide their own narratives to work that has the feel of children’s book illustrations. Ms. Weintraub is joined by fellow photographer David Wurtzel for an exhibition that runs May 23 through June 22. An opening reception will take place Friday, May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. and there will be an opportunity to meet the photographers at the gallery Sunday, May 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-8511, or visit: www.photogallery14.com.

Gallery 14 in Hopewell features photography by longtime gallery member Martha Weintraub in the Main Gallery and by David C. Wurtzel in the adjoining Jay Goodkind Gallery from May 23 through June 22. There will be an opening reception Friday, May 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. and an opportunity to meet the photographers at the gallery Sunday, May 25, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Ms. Weintraub, who currently serves as Gallery 14‘s president, is a writer and editor of children’s textbooks and has long been involved with the use of photographic images in the course of her professional career. When a friend gave her a single lens reflex film camera, she became serious about her own photography. Digital photography, she said, is her medium. And while she would never want to give up being behind the camera, she admits that time at the computer has become equally important to her photo-based artwork.

Ms. Weintraub spends hours at the computer in order to create images that fulfill a vision informed by her vast experience as a creator of children’s books. Visitors to the Gallery 14 show will see this influence manifest in an exhibition aptly titled “Story Hour.” Jumping off from the reference to the reading sessions that are held for youngsters aged between two and five in libraries across the country, Ms. Weintraub has images on display that have the look of book illustrations.

Some will evoke memories of well-known children’s stories and poems. Others will tempt viewers to search for a forgotten narrative or even supply one. According to the artist, however, they come entirely from her imagination. She hopes that viewers will let their own imaginations supply stories to go with her photographs.

Many of the picture book illustration-inspired images include Ms. Weintraub’s granddaughters Natalie, 6, and Miranda, 3, as models. Both girls are lovers of stories and adventures, and the fun that they must have had working/playing with their grandmother comes across here.

The photographer has studied with David Wurtzel, Ernestine Rubin, Maggie Taylor, Nancy Ori, Ricardo Barros, and Rick Wright. Her work has been shown at Phillips Mill Photography Exhibit, Grounds for Sculpture Photography Exhibit, Artsbridge at Prallsville Mills Exhibit, and the New Orleans Photo Alliance Gallery; an entry in COLOR Magazine’s Portfolio Contest 2011 was selected for a Spotlight Award and her image “City of Books” was Best in Show at Philips Mill in 2012.

Jay Goodkind Gallery

David C. Wurtzel has been active in photography since the late 1940s. He began in his father’s darkroom and maintains one of his own to this day. The photographs he has chosen to display here continue the storytelling theme and are gathered under the title “Other Stories.”

“To me, photography is an art of observation,” said Mr. Wurtzel. “It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place …. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

The digital images in “Other Stories” also invite viewers to supply a narrative, sometimes over several photographs. All were created in the camera using a variety of techniques such as double exposure, and exposures that were either very long or very short. Recorded in color, they were printed in black and white. One image, “Ghosts Rising,” is a joint effort with Martha Weintraub.

Gallery 14 is located at 14 Mercer Street in Hopewell. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-8511, or visit: www.photogallery14.com.

 

May 7, 2014
PRESSED: Bob Justin’s acrylic on canvas painting is one of 15 exploring his emotional responses to pain in a one-man show, “Out of Darkness” at Plainsboro Library through May 28. Eleven of the fifteen paintings on show are for sale with prices ranging from $75 to $225. For more about the artist, visit: www.bobjustin.com. A public reception will take place Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 275-2897.(Image Courtesy of Plainsboro Library)

PRESSED: Bob Justin’s acrylic on canvas painting is one of 15 exploring his emotional responses to pain in a one-man show, “Out of Darkness” at Plainsboro Library through May 28. Eleven of the fifteen paintings on show are for sale with prices ranging from $75 to $225. For more about the artist, visit: www.bobjustin.com. A public reception will take place Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 275-2897. (Image Courtesy of Plainsboro Library)

Bob Justin is one of a kind, a man who didn’t expect to be an artist but just couldn’t help himself. The creative impulse has led this former Plainsboro resident to one-man shows at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, the Frank J. Miele Gallery in New York, and the Eisenhower Hall Theater in West Point, N.Y. His work has found its way to the Outsider Art Fair sponsored by the American Museum of Folk Art and into the Laumeir Sculpture Park in St. Louis, Missouri.

Discovered over two decades ago as a “folk artist” whose compelling and life-affirming found object assemblages and “primitive” masks rarely fail to elicit a smile, Mr. Justin is now represented in the permanent collections of Plainsboro Township, Bloomfield College and the American Cyanamid Corporation in West Windsor.

Currently 15 paintings by the artist are on display in the Gallery at Plainsboro Library. The exhibition, titled “Out of Darkness,” presents acrylic paintings that are bold in execution and raw in expression. They represent the artist’s emotional journey through years of heart and lung ailments.

Unlike Mr. Justin’s whimsical primitive art, the paintings in the current exhibition come from a dark wellspring of pain.

“Bob has a special talent for creating pieces with personality,” commented the show’s curator Donna Senopoulos. “His intriguing and whimsical pieces have been shown periodically at the library and it is always a pleasure to exhibit his work. This time it was important to him to show paintings that are an emotional response to the pain he has had.”

Given the content of the paintings, Ms. Senopoulos thought carefully as to how they should be presented on the walls of the gallery space. “I decided that a simple straight line was the best way to handle this material. Such a uniform presentation is a departure for me, but I felt that it was needed for these graphically complicated images,” she said.

Describing the work on display, Mr. Justin said: “I find [these] pictures to be difficult to describe rationally, as they were done under the stress of emotions born of illness. Repeated episodes have always triggered renewed sessions of demons that are born of a dark side beyond silence. I leave the public to interpret, accept, or reject the work as they wish.”

Some have detected a West African influence in Mr. Justin’s work, most notably in his masks. It is also evident in these paintings rendered in dark elemental hues. Some are self portraits; some include hermaphrodite figures. A few, like the one shown here, include words and phrases.

A self-described “free spirited non-conformist,” Mr. Justin stands outside the mainstream. His road to art was prompted by illness. Born in 1941, he grew up in Keyport, Monmouth County, and worked in a variety of fields, though never for very long. He jokes that he’s had over 300 jobs, including stints as a real estate agent, Cadillac sales manager, and the head of his own executive search firm, among many others.

A heart attack forced him to retire in 1991, at which time he began selling his collection of tools and other items at the New Egypt Flea Market, where he now maintains a studio in an old Army barrack.

While handling vintage items, Mr. Justin rediscovered a childhood penchant for finding faces in everything. He began constructing what he affectionately called ‘critters” or “guys,” combinations of found objects inspired by tools, dolls, door knobs, discarded industrial and household objects that found new life in his hands.

His first artistic endeavor came about almost by accident when he adorned an old wooden chair with a broken pick axe. He called the assemblage, “Texas Longhorn” and placed it alongside his flea market table. His folk art career was born when someone came along and offered to buy it for $75.

Eventually, Dorothy Spencer, curator for the Arts America Program of the United States Information Agency (USIA), found her way to the self-taught artist. Her interest resulted in several of his pieces being shown internationally and locally. After he was discovered by a noted collector and board member of the American Museum of Folk Art, he had several one man shows.

Mr. Justin is the subject of a Cablevision documentary which can be viewed along with his portfolio at www.bobjustin.com.

A public reception for the artist will take place at the gallery on Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. “Out of Darkness” runs through May 28 in the gallery of the Plainsboro Library, 9 Van Doren Street, Plainsboro. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 275-2897.

 

April 23, 2014
ART FOR HEALING: At the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, art is playing no small part in patient recovery. Research shows that an environment that includes works of art such as Gordon Gund’s life-affirming sculpture, “Moment,” can help combat stress. Serene images by local artists are all around the building, in corridors and lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms. And it’s not just patients who benefit, those who work there every day are also finding solace in the artwork.(Image Courtesy of UMCPP).

ART FOR HEALING: At the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, art is playing no small part in patient recovery. Research shows that an environment that includes works of art such as Gordon Gund’s life-affirming sculpture, “Moment,” can help combat stress. Serene images by local artists are all around the building, in corridors and lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms. And it’s not just patients who benefit, those who work there every day are also finding solace in the artwork. (Image Courtesy of UMCPP).

Art is playing no small part in the process of patient recovery at the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) and local artists feature most prominently among the work on display throughout the building, in corridors and lobbies, waiting areas and patient rooms, and in the Art for Healing Gallery.

The new hospital is not such a surprising place for a collection of artwork as you might at first think. Artists and art lovers have long found solace and comfort in forms of art. Now scientific research is bolstering their intuition by demonstrating ways in which art contributes to healing.

According to Barry S. Rabner, president and CEO of Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS), the design of the new hospital buildings was guided by recent scientific research, which demonstrates the measurable effect that art has on patient recovery. Images of nature in particular, can alleviate anxiety and stress, reduce blood pressure, shorten hospital stays, and even limit the need for pain medication.

A tour of the four conjoined buildings that make up the medical campus (the main hospital, emergency and surgery center, Medical Arts Pavilion, and education building) on Monday revealed that indoor art as well as views onto external gardens with sculpture, not to mention vistas of Princeton set among a landscape of trees on the other side of Route 1, can be seen from multiple vantage points throughout. “Every elevator lobby has a piece of artwork,” said public affairs coordinator Andy Williams, as he described the numerous sculptures, oil paintings, watercolors, and fabric pieces on display, each accompanied by signage with details of the artist and often the donor who made the acquisition possible. Charles McVicker’s 2009 painting, The Sandy Road, for example, was a gift from the Community Connection of PHCS, formerly known as the Women’s Auxiliary.

Flukes, a bronze by the blind sculptor Gordon Gund, takes pride of place in the Meditation Garden, while his Moment, enhances the east entrance to the main hospital building. Ernestine Ruben’s 2008 giclee print with drawing, Waterrings (made possible by Barry Goldblatt) is in the Atkinson Pavilion. Naomi Chung’s 2011 oil on canvas, Mimosa Tree is on the fourth floor in the east elevator lobby and Carol Hanson’s stunning 2010 View of the Delaware from Bordentown distinguishes a lobby space on another floor. Elaine Vrabel’s 2010 pastel on paper, Far View of the Marsh is featured in the Matthews Center for Cancer Care, where you will also find a series by Lucy Graves McVicker.

Cafe visitors, will discover two enormous canvases by Eve Ingalls (also made possible by Barry Goldblatt). Her acrylic on paper, We’ll Leave a Light On dates to 1984, and her oil and acrylic on canvas, Is Someone There to 1995.

It seems that art of some form can be viewed from almost any point in the hospital. This is far from accidental. “When we designed the building, we had art in mind and the specific placement of sculpture and graphic art. We even designed places for them. Besides being beautiful, art can be an effective way of helping people find their way through a building. A huge pink flower is much more memorable than a direction to turn left or right. Art is also placed where people are likely to linger, in waiting areas, in lobbies. Ninety percent of our areas have natural light, which is also shown as having an effect on recovery.”

The “huge pink flower,” referenced by Mr. Rabner is muralist Illia Barger’s large canvas, Natasha, 2009, which provides a focal point at the end of a long corridor and has become a reference point for visitors.

Asked why there was a preponderance of landscapes and organic forms on display, Mr. Rabner explained that the choice was deliberate and was driven by the findings of “evidence-based design.” “A lot of research has shown that art has a measurable impact on the speed of patient recovery and reduce rates of infection,” said Mr. Rabner. “Exposure, particularly to landscapes, can reduce stress and a hospital is a stressful environment not only for patients and their families but also for those who work here every day.”

Still, those choosing artwork for UMCPP’s Art for Healing initiative could easily have gone with cookie cutter reproductions, Monet’s Waterlilies, say, or any number of readily recognizable works of art. Instead, they chose to focus on original works by New Jersey artists.

Made up of physicians and staff members, local art curators and experts from Princeton University and other area colleges, the selection committee included Mr. Rabner, Princeton architect J. Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder), and design expert Rosalyn Cama, who chairs the Center for Health Design, which fosters a respect for natural scenes as well as natural light through its healthier hospitals initiative and its promotion of evidence-based design.

Born and bred in the Garden State, Mr. Rabner is very happy about the committee’s decision. “These are artists who know New Jersey and it is great to be able to showcase the beauty of our Garden State instead of other aspects.”

But none of this would have been possible, he said, without philanthropic support. “If the hospital had to choose between a work of art or a linear accelerator, we would choose the latter, obviously. But we are lucky in having great supporters.” The purchase of artwork is funded by donations to the PHCS Foundation.

The Art for Healing program and a permanent collection boasting some 350 paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other original works by local artists with deep connections to Princeton and New Jersey has artwork by artists familiar to Town Topics readers. Besides those named above, you will find work by Hetty Baiz, Jim Perry, Thomas George, Ernestine Ruben, Yolande Ardissone, Joan Becker, Pier Hein, Francois Guillemin, among others.

In addition to the art on permanent display, UMCPP’s Art for Healing gallery offers rotating exhibitions of work by an artist whose work is in the permanent collection. Each show is up for between three and four months. Currently, “Paper as Canvas: Variations on a Theme,” showcases large pieces by Anita Bernarde, for sale in the range of $575 to $1,250. Twenty percent of each sale benefits the hospital.

Incidentally, if you go to see the artwork, don’t miss the Visitors Chapel on the main floor. It is a serene spot for reflection, whatever your religion, although copies of The Bible and Koran are available as are prayer mats and kneelers.

International Trend

According to Mr. Rabner, the design of the new medical campus illustrates an international trend toward designing healthcare settings that promote healing. The Art for Healing program offers a series of regular talks by experts from the Princeton University Art Museum and is working to engage patients with the arts in the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) Unit and, in future, in the Matthews Center for Cancer Care.

On Wednesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. Dr. T. Barton Thurber, associate director for collections and exhibitions will discuss “The Art of Observation: Museums and Medicine Today,” at the hospital, followed by an art tour. Anyone who would like to attend, should call Susanne Hall at (609) 252-8704.

And if you are wondering what happened to Seward Johnson’s lifelike sculpture of doctor and patient, complete with wheelchair, which formerly graced the entrance to the “old hospital” on Witherspoon Street. It can be found just outside an entrance leading to the Medical Arts Pavilion.

 

April 16, 2014
WOULD WOOD COULD SPEAK: The writing desk used by Elizabeth Barrett Browning as she worked on her poems in Italy is on display in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library. The desk and one other belonging to her husband Robert Browning are the gift of alumnus Peter N. Heydon, (Class of 1962) and will be on display at the Firestone Library through June 6.   (Photo by Don C. Skemer)

WOULD WOOD COULD SPEAK: The writing desk used by Elizabeth Barrett Browning as she worked on her poems in Italy is on display in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library. The desk and one other belonging to her husband Robert Browning are the gift of alumnus Peter N. Heydon, (Class of 1962) and will be on display at the Firestone Library through June 6. (Photo by Don C. Skemer)

Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love story is one of the most famous in 19th century literature. Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861), one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era, was widely popular in Britain and the United States. An invalid from her teenage years, she campaigned against slavery and helped bring about child labor reform.

Robert Browning (1812-1889), six years her junior, was regarded as a bit of a rake by her family. They kept their burgeoning love affair a secret and when they married, Elizabeth was disinherited by her father and shunned by her brothers.

Two desks, his and hers, are on display inside the Special Collections library at Firestone behind the glass window to the right of the entrance doors. Even in the dim light, the desks have a presence “by association” to their former owners. Both are remarkably small and weathered. Hers is more ornately carved, his is inlayed with tendrils of roses, but neither could be called ostentatious.

“The desks have what is known in the book world as iconic value precisely because there can be no substitutes for them, unlike a book of which there are many copies,” said Curator of Manuscripts Don C. Skemer of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. “Seeing her writing desk is a charming and moving experience. The Brownings had a very special relationship. She was often housebound and her disability has been much speculated upon and yet they ran off to Florence together and lived happy and productive lives until her death several decades before her husband.”

To live cheaply, the couple moved to Italy in 1846. Her slant-topped mahogany writing desk was sent from England shortly after they arrived and placed in the drawing room of their rented apartment on the second floor of the 15th-century Palazzo Guidi in Florence.

Writing Her Life

“Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote her ‘novel in verse,’ Aurora Leigh, on this desk and while it’s not as well known as her collection, Sonnets from the Portuguese, its part of the canon as an epic poem about a woman written by a women,” noted Mr. Skemer.

Aurora Leigh is the story of a female writer making her way and balancing work and love and is clearly drawn from her own life: “Of writing many books there is no end; / And I who have written much in prose and verse / For others’ uses, will write now for mine.”

While living in Italy, Elizabeth suffered four miscarriages and, in 1849, at the age of 43, gave birth to one son, Robert “Pen” Browning (1849–1912).

“After her death, her husband was unable to go back to their Casa Guidi apartment and returned to England,” said Mr. Skemer, “but he asked his Greek painter friend, George Mignaty, to record the scene for him as a remembrance of their happy and productive years in Florence.”

In Mignaty’s oil painting, begun the day after Elizabeth’s death on July 1, 1861, the desk sits prominently, front and center alongside her husband’s Northern Italian walnut table as well as silver-plated “traveling” tea kettle, also on display at Firestone.

The University received the items as a gift from alumnus Peter N. Heydon (Class of 1962). They were originally sold at auction in 1913 following the death of the Brownings’ son and heir.

“The University doesn’t own Mignaty’s painting, but Mr. Hayden has a copy that he is planning to donate,” said Mr. Skemer. The items currently on display are the first of several anticipated gifts to Princeton from Mr. Heydon’s extensive collection of Browning first editions, manuscript letters, and other Victorian memorabilia collected over four decades.

Mr. Heydon first became enchanted with the poetry of Robert Browning as a Princeton undergraduate. At the University of Michigan, he earned both MA (1963) and PhD (1970) and then taught English literature and creative writing. He is the founding president of The Browning Institute, Inc., based in New York and Florence, which acquired the Casa Guidi apartment in 1971. As the Institute’s president for 15 years, he oversaw the restoration of the apartment as a museum and study center, now owned and operated, like the Keats-Shelley House in Rome, by Eton College and the British National Trust.

Mr. Heydon has authored a number of pieces on Robert Browning and his circle; he was co-editor with Philip Kelly of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Letters to Mrs. David Ogilvy, 1849–1861: With Recollections by Mrs. Ogilvy (New York: Quadrangle Press, 1973).

Other Browning holdings in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections include dozens of manuscripts and autograph letters, held in the Manuscripts Division..

 

April 9, 2014
THE COMMODORE COMES HOME: Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866), or at least this pastel on paper representation of him by the New Jersey artist Micah Williams (1782-1837), has returned to Morven as part of an exhibition, through September 14, of work by the prolific portrait painter. The exhibition, “Micah Williams: Portrait Artist,” will be unveiled at an opening reception this Thursday, April 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

THE COMMODORE COMES HOME: Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866), or at least this pastel on paper representation of him by the New Jersey artist Micah Williams (1782-1837), has returned to Morven as part of an exhibition, through September 14, of work by the prolific portrait painter. The exhibition, “Micah Williams: Portrait Artist,” will be unveiled at an opening reception this Thursday, April 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Morven Museum and Garden will launch it’s newest exhibition, “Micah Williams: Portrait Artist,” with a public reception on Thursday, April 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition draws upon a somewhat larger show organized by the Monmouth County Historical Society with one exception, a recent Morven acquisition of a portrait of Commodore Robert Field Stockton, (1795-1866) completed by Micah Williams around 1821. Grandson of the original owner Richard Stockton, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the commodore was a third-generation resident of the historic home.

His portrait is one of 40 paintings, mostly in pastel (six are in oil), by the 18th century itinerant painter Micah Williams (1782-1837), a prolific artist with 272 existing works known. Monmouth County was his largest source of patronage, said Morven Curaror Beth Allan. “Happy customers would recommend him to other members of their family and to friends.”

The exhibition, which will be on display through September 14, offers an unmatched look at the state’s 19th century farmers, orchard growers, militia officers, politicians, silversmiths, potters, carpenters, and their families and elucidates much about the life of the New Jersey artist whose works are in many major museum collections and highly sought after by folk art collectors.

“The first time Micah Williams shows up in the historic record is in New Brunswick working as a silverplater alongside his brother-in-law,” said Ms. Allan, interviewed on Monday while she put the final touches to the exhibition. “Economic issues drove him into debtors prison for two months. He had 123 creditors and left prison with only the clothes on his back and $10 worth of tools.”

It seems that at this point, the artist embarked on a new career as a portrait painter working in pastels. One of the first in the exhibition is of his wife, Margaret Priestly Williams (1787-1863), with whom he had seven children, The depiction shows Margaret dressed simply in a black dress and white cap. According to information compiled by Bernadette M. Rogoff, the Monmouth County Historical Society Curator of Museum Collections, who has researched the artist and his patrons for some two decades, Margaret was pregnant with the couple’s fourth child when the Middlesex County sheriff and his men arrived at the doorstep to seize the family’s household possessions.

“Micah Williams: Portrait Artist,” is on loan from the Monmouth County Historical Association. Ms. Rogoff’s research shows that he married in 1806 and later set himself up as a portrait painter in Monmouth County. He spent several years in New York City, where sometime in 1828 or early 1829 he continued his efforts in oil painting. It is not known with whom he studied.

The Exhibition

The exhibition is in four galleries on the second floor. Don’t miss Commodore Stockton’s portrait, bought recently at auction. Ms. Allan wouldn’t say what had been paid for the piece, but whatever it was, it was worth it for the brooding “Heathcliff” quality of the man that the artist has captured. Stockton who would become a U.S. Senator, would have been 27 when he sat for the artist, and recently returned from service off the coast of Liberia as captain of the U.S.S. Alligator.

Compare it with Thomas Sully’s 1821 full-length oil on canvas on view in the first floor of the West Wing, the first and last room that visitors will pass through on the way to and from the galleries. There, too, you will find a daguerreotype of Stockton taken later in life.

“Williams lined his work with newspaper and it was amazing to find pages from the January 22 edition of the Trenton-based newspaper, The True American, on the back of this new acquisition,” said Ms. Allan.

All but one of the images on display are by Williams. The exception is a portrait of the artist, presumed to have been painted by his teacher. It shows the artist with his oil palette complete with daubs of paint and two thin paint brushes and may have been made when he was studying oil painting in New York City.

The small oval, only ten inches high, painted on a thin wood panel shows Williams to have been a slightly built man, with thinning sandy-colored hair above a narrow face. He is dressed simply in a plain white shirt without ruffle or bow under a somber black coat and waistcoat.

The likeness descended within the Williams family to his great granddaughter Anna I. Morgan, the last direct descendant to own the portrait, which was purchased by the Monmouth County Historical Association in 1980 after her death.

The exhibition demonstrates the progression in the artist’s skills and his rise in portraiture. Among his sitters was Clarkson Crolius (1773-1843) who was also painted by Albany portrait painter Ezra Ames, a work from the collection of the New-York Historical Society.

Eight years after he painted Daniel I. Schenck and his wife Eleanor Schenck (they were first cousins) he painted Daniel’s brother DeLafayette and his wife Eleanor (Nelly) Conover Schenck (a daguerreotype shows them in later years).

One nice touch is the inclusion of objects that are directly related to the images, such as the chair with a painted yellow rose border that is depicted in the portrait of Dinah Van Winkle Morgan the wife of Jonathan Morgan, stoneware potter of Morganville, Monmouth County (1823-1826). The chair is on loan from a descendant of the sitter.

Another feature is an interactive photo-booth which offers visitors a chance to have their own portrait made, courtesy of a museum staff photographer. Some period props are available.

Ms. Rogoff will share her unique perspective on the artist and his works in a brief powerpoint presentation followed by a gallery walk focusing on individual works on Thursday, April 24 at 10 a.m. Admission is $10, ($7 for Friends of Morven); reservations are required. Contact (609) 924-8144 ext.10, or msheridan@morven.org.

Morven Museum & Garden is a National Historic Landmark. Hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call , or visit: www.morven.org. 609.924.8144.

 

March 26, 2014
LOTUS: The lotus in all its stages is captured by artist Dallas Piotrowski, whose acrylic painting will be on view in “The Curators’ Exhibit” opening at the Gallery at Chapin School on April 1. Including Ms. Piotrowski’s work, the show will feature work by five artists who are also gallery curators. The exhibition will run from April 1 through April 30, with a reception for the artists on Wednesday, April 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Gallery at Chapin, 4101 Princeton Pike, on view during school hours by appointment by calling (609) 924-7206.

LOTUS: The lotus in all its stages is captured by artist Dallas Piotrowski, whose acrylic painting will be on view in “The Curators’ Exhibit” opening at the Gallery at Chapin School on April 1. Including Ms. Piotrowski’s work, the show will feature work by five artists who are also gallery curators. The exhibition will run from April 1 through April 30, with a reception for the artists on Wednesday, April 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Gallery at Chapin, 4101 Princeton Pike, on view during school hours by appointment by calling (609) 924-7206.

Dallas Piotrowski has been walking the paths of Grounds For Sculpture for years, finding inspiration in the grounds of the park itself. Most recently, the lotus plants there made such a profound impression that she is currently working on a series of paintings that will show the plant species in its many varied stages of development. “I generally work in themed series and I was captivated by the transformations of the lotus,” said the artist, who is curator of the Gallery at the Chapin School on Princeton Pike.

“I became fascinated by this mysterious and ancient plant as I watched it evolve into many different forms over the course of the seasons,” said Ms. Piotrowski. “The flowers are particularly spectacular with their huge pink blooms. The pods are the most interesting. I look for abstraction and the rhythm of the repeated pattern in nature and create my painting from its design.”

Ms. Piotrowski is curating an unusual exhibition opening at the Gallery on Tuesday, April 1. “The Curators’ Exhibit” will feature work by five artists who are, like Ms. Piotrowski, also gallery curators from local private schools. It gives curators a chance to shine a light on their own artwork while allowing members of the community to meet the people who are so often behind the scenes.

The exhibition will run from April 1 through April 30, with a reception for the artists on Wednesday, April 2, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The artist’s initial interest in the plant’s biology led to further explorations of the history and symbolism. “The flowers are called ‘enlightenment’ and also ‘the Buddha’ and they have been revered and honored in the cultures of Asia for five thousand years,” she said. “I’m looking forward to catching the buds this spring and to seeing again how they sink back into the water at night and rise again in the morning, fresh and pristine. It amazes me that they never get dirty.”

So far, she has completed three paintings which will be on view in “The Curators’ Exhibit.” She expects the series to comprise six paintings. Currently she is at work on a painting of the blossom that she began last November. As for the Chapin exhibition, it has been a challenge to hang work by such different artists, especially when there is just 10 feet of wall space available for each. “Many curators have a strong background in the history of art, but all of the curators shown here are also artists in their own right,” said Ms. Piotrowski,

Joining Ms. Piotrowski are Dolores Evangelista Eaton of the Silva Gallery of Art at the Pennington School; Jody Erdman of the The Anne Reid Art Gallery at Princeton Day School; Jamie Greenfield of the Marguerite and James Hutchins Gallery at the Lawrenceville School; and Phyllis Wright of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

Ms. Eaton, who paints and works in clay, feels issues of identity and voice continue to dominate art making. “In these recent works I am exploring the idea that we are all in a constant state of emerging,” she said. “Over and over again we adjust our relationship to the world by realizing new ways of being, and new ways of knowing ourselves. Sometimes this is a struggle; sometimes it is as natural and quick as a snake shedding its skin; and sometimes we are given experiences that in a way force us, and we do not resist, to use new lenses through which we see the world and ourselves.”

Ms. Erdman uses photography as a means to explore parts of the world around her that she loves. “It’s a means of self expression, to better understand my reality and to embrace the parts of the world which are important to me,” she said. “I like to explore the world as fragments and as abstract form. I like to focus on things which are timeless; to stop in a meditative space which is timeless.”

Known for her drawings of figures, Ms. Greenfield is also a painter of nature whose work draws upon inner sources of personal history in combination with close observation of light and form. “In much of my work, objects, like thoughts, are held in tenuous relation to one another, seemingly unrelated yet anchored in a structured pictorial space,” she said. “Some affinities are provided to the viewer while others remain ambiguous and, as in dreams, may be the result of memory, longing or prescience.”

Ms. Wright is a photographer and painter with a deep interest in the mysteries surrounding ancient cultures, archeology, and the language of symbols. “My art-making helps me make sense of the world around me,” said the artist, who travels a great deal learning about indigenous cultures and attempting through color, texture, and form to convey through her art the mystery and wonder of the world.

The exhibit in the The Gallery at Chapin, 4101 Princeton Pike, can be viewed during school hours by appointment by calling (609) 924-7206.

 

March 19, 2014
TARASCON STAGECOACH: “La Diligence de Tarascon” by Vincent van Gogh is just one of the masterworks on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum from the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation that museum visitors will have to wait for some time to see again. The 1888 oil on canvas, along with the rest of the collection, began a five-venue international tour when it opened at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford last week. It won’t be back in Princeton until September 2015.(Courtesy of the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection).

TARASCON STAGECOACH: “La Diligence de Tarascon” by Vincent van Gogh is just one of the masterworks on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum from the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation that museum visitors will have to wait for some time to see again. The 1888 oil on canvas, along with the rest of the collection, began a five-venue international tour when it opened at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford last week. It won’t be back in Princeton until September 2015. (Courtesy of the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection).

A collection of major modern artworks in the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM) has been carefully packed up and sent to Europe where it will be seen by art lovers in England and France before returning to the United States later this year. Then, the collection, including paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Manet, Modigliani and Van Gogh, will go on show in Atlanta and Vancouver before coming home to Princeton in September of 2015. 

According to a museum press release, this is the first time in 40 years that the works will go on tour. Titled “Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection,” the international touring exhibition is now on view at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford.

Amassed by the American entrepreneur Henry Pearlman (1895–1974), it includes 16 Cézanne watercolors that have been described as “the greatest collection outside of France,” as well as some 50 modern masterworks from the late 19th through early 20th centuries.

“We at Princeton are delighted to share the Pearlman collection with a wider international audience on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Henry Pearlman’s death,” said Museum Director James Steward. “This spectacular collection is a testament to Henry Pearlman’s dedication to the transformative power of the creative avant-garde, to his passionate engagement with artists, and to his self-taught discernment.”

Formally known as the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection, the paintings have been on long term loan at the Princeton University Art Museum since 1976. Paintings from the collection, which is regarded as a critical research and teaching tool, are regularly on display. Half of the artworks are by Cézanne, and the collection offers insights into the development of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as well as the history of collecting avant-garde art in the United States.

Among the highlights are Paul Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire (ca. 1902), Vincent van Gogh’s Tarascon Stagecoach (1888) and Amedeo Modigliani’s portrait of Jean Cocteau (1916–17). Other artists represented in the exhibition are Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lembruck, Jacques Lipchitz, Édouard Manet, Camille Pisarro, Alfred Sisley, Chaïm Soutine and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Co-curated by Betsy Rosasco, PUAM’s research curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Laura Giles, PUAM’s Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions by more than a dozen members of the Princeton University community as well as a personal narrative, “Reminiscences of a Collector,” by Mr. Pearlman.

A lifelong New Yorker, Pearlman founded the Eastern Cold Storage Company in 1919. He began seriously collecting avant-garde art in the 1940s with purchases of work by Soutine and Modigliani and by some of the artists who influenced them, including Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cézanne. He built close relationships with a number of art dealers in the U.S. and abroad, and befriended artists directly. Over three decades, he assembled one of the finest collections of European art remaining in private hands.

Residents of Princeton will have to wait for some time before seeing the collection on its return from its travels. After the Ashmolean in Oxford, it goes to the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence (July 11 through October 5); to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (October 25 through January 11, 2015); and then to Canada’s Vancouver Art Gallery (February 7 through May 18, 2015). It will be on display at PUAM, from September 12, 2015 through January 3, 2016.

 

March 12, 2014
MAKING MUSIC: Sheila Bodine’s black and white photographs of musicians’ hands playing instruments are complemented by her 17-year-old granddaughter Grace Glovier’s shots of abstract architectural patterns in an exhibition titled “Generations” at the RWJ Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery. Both photographers are members of the Princeton Photography Club. The exhibition features members of the club and opens with a reception on Thursday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 584-5900.

MAKING MUSIC: Sheila Bodine’s black and white photographs of musicians’ hands playing instruments are complemented by her 17-year-old granddaughter Grace Glovier’s shots of abstract architectural patterns in an exhibition titled “Generations” at the RWJ Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery. Both photographers are members of the Princeton Photography Club. The exhibition features members of the club and opens with a reception on Thursday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 584-5900.

Lakefront Gallery will debut “Generations,” an exhibition of photography by members of the Princeton Photography Club with an opening reception on Thursday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition will continue through June 12.

The generations featured are: mother and daughter Sandy and Rachel Shapiro; grandmother and grandson Janet Hautau and Sam Klein; brother and sister Michael and Lynn Padwee; father and son Daniel and Adam Goldberg; grandmother and granddaughter Sheila Bodine and Grace Glovier; father and son Richard Trenner and Winslow Radcliffe Trenner; fathers and daughters: Irwin Vogel and Karen Neems; and Randy and Taylor Koslo; and the three-generation, father, daughter and granddaughter John (Jack) Diehn, Ellen and Caitlin Rogers.

It stands to reason that the basic rule of organization would dictate placement. But simply grouping like items together just didn’t seem right to Princeton curator Sheila Geisler. As she plotted the layout for the upcoming juried exhibit at Lakefront Gallery at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJ Hamilton), she knew it called for something more.

“They all had a flow so much so that I didn’t have to group them by individual artists,” Geisler said of “Generations” an exhibit of photographs taken by generations of nine families. “It must be in the genes,” she said.

Whether it is nature or nurture, this collection of images captured by grandmothers and granddaughters; mothers and sons; fathers and daughters will express the differences and commonalities that are present in all families. These expressions, Geisler thinks, connect people to the art and help people connect to each other.

That’s not only true for the patrons, but also for the artists.

Princeton’s 76-year-old Sheila Bodine whose black and white photographs of musicians’ hands playing instruments were paired with her 17-year-old granddaughter Grace Glovier’s shots of abstract architectural patterns. It was Bodine who brought the idea of the “Generations” exhibit to Geisler after seeing a similar show elsewhere. Both women belong to the 287-member Princeton Photography Club that has been supplying some of the subject matter for Lakefront and other local galleries. Geisler, whose husband Carl has been president of the club for the past eight years, said members are always looking for ways to bring the community together.

As for Bodine, she said she is certainly excited about displaying her family’s work. While she and her granddaughter both enjoy photography, they have never collaborated together. “I wanted to do something I’d never done before and I thought it would be great to do it with her.”

“That’s what art is all about,” Geisler said. “Involving the community around us — so that the community will walk into RWJ Hamilton before they need it and see what else is there and have them excited about what they can come in for before they need hospital services.”

Ilya Genin, a Hamilton cardiologist and director of Lakefront Gallery, agrees. “The gallery brings original photographic art to the walls of the hospital, enriching the patient, visitor, and staff experience.”

For more information, call (609) 584-5900.

 

March 5, 2014
TENDERNESS CAPTURED: “Ternura,” the title of Miek Boltjes’s photograph showing graffiti art in Miami is intended to evoke not only the tenderness so obviously shown in the mural but also the vulnerability of the artists who painted it. A series of photographs of street and graffiti art and artists by Ms. Boltjes will go on view at Gallery 14 in Hopewell next week, Friday, March 14, alongside a collection by fellow Gallery 14 member Rhoda Kassof-Isaac. For more information, visit: www.photogallery14.com.

TENDERNESS CAPTURED: “Ternura,” the title of Miek Boltjes’s photograph showing graffiti art in Miami is intended to evoke not only the tenderness so obviously shown in the mural but also the vulnerability of the artists who painted it. A series of photographs of street and graffiti art and artists by Ms. Boltjes will go on view at Gallery 14 in Hopewell next week, Friday, March 14, alongside a collection by fellow Gallery 14 member Rhoda Kassof-Isaac. For more information, visit: www.photogallery14.com.

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.

Fall Foliage

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 galleryfourteen@yahoo.com, or visit: www.photogallery14.com.

 

February 26, 2014
OH TO BE IN MAINE IN SUMMER: This pristine summer image by Tasha O’Neill, titled “Branching Out,” is part of the exhibition of her work, “Mainely Delights,” opening at the Nassau Presbyterian Church on Nassau Street this Sunday. The exhibition will be on display in the Conference Room during business hours, Monday to Friday. There will be a reception for the artist on Sunday, March 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more on Ms. O’Neill’s photography, visit: http://tashaphotography.com.

OH TO BE IN MAINE IN SUMMER: This pristine summer image by Tasha O’Neill, titled “Branching Out,” is part of the exhibition of her work, “Mainely Delights,” opening at the Nassau Presbyterian Church on Nassau Street this Sunday. The exhibition will be on display in the Conference Room during business hours, Monday to Friday. There will be a reception for the artist on Sunday, March 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. For more on Ms. O’Neill’s photography, visit: http://tashaphotography.com.

Since 1993, fine art photographer Tasha O’Neill has pondered the beauties of coastal landscapes on annual trips to Maine, where the Down East home she shares with her husband sits on the quiet wooded side of Mt. Desert Island in an area that is part of Acadia National Park.

“Mainely Delights,” an exhibition of iconic images, subtle and intimate, opens at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street this Sunday, March 2 and will be on view through March in the Conference Room. The exhibition will be open during business hours, Monday to Friday, and there will be a reception for the artist on Sunday, March 9, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Curated by Sue Rodgers, the show is a selection of some of the photographer’s best work and the images will be available for purchase. “The Nassau Presbyterian Church is pleased to open its space to local artists and the community at large and takes no commission on any of the work sold,” said Ms. Rodgers.

Ms. O’Neill is a member of the group Art+10 and it was a word-of-mouth recommendation from fellow member Meg Michael that led to the current exhibition. A 20-year resident of Princeton, Ms. Rodgers has been curating shows at the church for some 15 years and had previously mounted an exhibition of acrylic paintings by Ms. Michael. After viewing Ms. O’Neill’s images online, she unhesitatingly contacted the Princeton-based photographer to suggest a show.

Exhibitions at the Nassau Presbyterian Church change monthly from October through May and feature local artists working in a variety of media including oil and acrylic painting, pastel, watercolor, and photography.

With these shots of Maine, the photographer presents a distillation of summers spent exploring such places as Seal Cove. As soon as Ms. O’Neill and her husband arrive, they make for the rustic Bass Harbor restaurant, Mainely Delights, “where the warm welcome always makes us feel immediately at home,” she said. Hence the title of this exhibition.

Delight is clearly the hallmark of Ms. O’Neill’s time spent Down East where the artist speaks of finding certain moon phases that bring about extreme low tides and grant access to beaches otherwise inaccessible. Unique arrays of seaweed and rocks create natural abstractions which the photographer invites viewers to explore, alongside evocative images of gardens and seascapes.

The artist taps a poet’s sensibility for the titles of her images: Entwinings, Wending, Ripening, A Whispering of Sloops, Pasta of the Sea and Vanished Guests, to name but a handful.

“Mainely Delights” will feature 22 pieces in two sizes, 16 x 20 inches and 20 x 24 inches. For more on Ms. O’Neill’s photography, visit: http://tashaphotography.com, or http://tasha-oneill@artistwebsites.com.

 

February 19, 2014
DREAMS FOR THE WINTER WEARY: If the storms are getting you down, what better solace than a visit to Rider University’s latest art show: “Basil Alkazzi: An Odyssey of Dreams — A Decade of Paintings, 2003-2012,” currently on view in the Bart Luedeke Center on Rider University’s campus, 2083 Lawrenceville Road. Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 895-5588.

DREAMS FOR THE WINTER WEARY: If the storms are getting you down, what better solace than a visit to Rider University’s latest art show: “Basil Alkazzi: An Odyssey of Dreams — A Decade of Paintings, 2003-2012,” currently on view in the Bart Luedeke Center on Rider University’s campus, 2083 Lawrenceville Road. Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 895-5588.

Are contemporary artists eschewing the secular and returning to the metaphysical? For the philosophically minded, that might well be the question prompted by Rider University Art Gallery’s current exhibition of watercolor and gouache paintings by the Kuwaiti-born artist Basil Alkazzi.

“An Odyssey of Dreams: A Decade of Paintings 2003-2012” features 34 vibrant abstracts that, some think, speak to renewed interest in the metaphysical in art after a period of secular involvement.

The question will be discussed this Thursday, February 20, at 7 p.m. when Michael Royce, executive director of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) introduces a conversation by two leading art historians/critics, prompted by Mr. Alkazzi’s work.

In “From Secularism to the Mystical in Contemporary Art,” Donald Kuspit and Matthew Baigell will discuss the artist’s work within the broader context of a perceived turn from secularism to the expression of inner feeling, particularly the spiritual, among contemporary artists.

One of the most eminent art critics in the United States, Mr. Kuspit is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History and Philosophy at Stony Brook University and a senior critic at the New York Academy of Art. His writings appear in Artforum, Artnet Magazine, Sculpture, and Tema Celeste magazines, and he is the editor of Art Criticism. An influential author, his art criticism includes The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century; Psychostrategies of Avant-Garde Art; Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries; and The End of Art (and that just since 2000).

Mr. Baigell is one of the nation’s leading art historians. His books include A Concise History of American Painting and Sculpture, The American Scene: American Painting of the 1930s, and Artist and Identity in Twentieth Century America, which examines the work of such artists as Edward Hopper, Ben Shahn, and Frank Stella, relating their art to the social contexts in which it was created, and identifying recurring themes, such as the persistence of Emersonian values, the search for national and regional identity, aspects of alienation, and their personal and religious identities as revealed in their works.

A public reception will follow the program, which was organized by Harry I. Naar, director of the Rider University Art Gallery and Judith K. Brodsky, Distinguished Professor Emerita at Rutgers and founding director of the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions, who also curated the exhibition.

But one needn’t be an art historian or an art critic, to enjoy Mr. Alkazzi’s vividly colored large-scale works on hand-made paper.

Enigmatic and Mystical

The paintings are abstract in an organic rather than geometric way. Enigmatic and mystical, they conjure up warmth, pre-verbal memories, other-worldly landscapes; just the thing to transport the winter weary from the reality of snow shovels and slushy sidewalks.

They range in size from 13 x 18 inches to 40 x 30 inches and their titles convey a romantic and tender sensibility: Kiss of the Butterfly, Ascending Angel, Whispering Dreams, and Ascension in Beatitude II, on the cover of the full-color 136-page exhibition catalog.

Mr. Alkazzi has said that he hopes the show will inspire viewers with “a feeling of awe at the sublime soul within life and nature, and so, within themselves.”

In speaking of his work, Mr. Naar makes comparisons to Wassily Kandinsky and Mark Rothko; Mr. Kuspit, who has written two books on Mr. Alkazzi and has been observing his oeuvre since the 1960s, speaks of Jung.

“My paintings of nature are the Life-Force embodied in nature, all of nature, and that includes mankind,” said Mr. Alkazzi, who describes himself as a man of faith rather than of any particular religion.

This traveling exhibition started at the Bradbury Gallery at Arkansas State University and traveled to The Anne Kittrell Gallery at the University of Arkansas before arriving at Rider where it will continue until March 2. After that it goes to the Rosenberg Gallery at the Maryland Institute College of Art and then to the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Long Career

The artist’s long career dates from 1973. He first discovered a talent for drawing and painting as a child at boarding school in Beirut. After attending art school in London, he spent time in Greece and then Crete and regularly exhibited his work at London’s Drian Gallery, from 1978 to 1987. Since 1985, he has lived on and off in New York and was granted U.S. residency as “an artist of exceptional ability in the arts.” Currently, he lives in Monaco.

A prolific and self-described “compulsive” painter, he has work in the public collections of museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

“An Odyssey of Dreams — A Decade of Paintings 2003 — 2012” is at the Art Gallery in the Bart Luedeke Center on the Rider campus, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, through March 2. Gallery hours are: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 895-5588.