Art in Town

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Art by the River

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This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the January 2, 2002

edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

A Raymond Retrospective

About 50 years ago, David Raymond’s first solo art

exhibition in New York City was reviewed positively in the New York

Times. The critic wrote of having the impression of meeting a

"host

of artists, instead of one," and went on to cite Raymond’s variety

and inventiveness. That view was prophetic, a harbinger of the five

decades to follow.

"A Collection of Festive and Celebratory Art," a retrospective

exhibition of the work of David Raymond, who died last September at

age 75, opens at the Montgomery Center for the Arts, Skillman, opens

with a reception Sunday, January 6, and runs through February 10.

Raymond, who painted for about 60 years and taught drawing and

painting

for half that time, lived in Princeton for 30 years, and was a member

of the Princeton Artists Alliance (PAA) from around the time of its

inception in 1989 to the end of his life.

An admirer of Raymond’s work recently called him "a wonderer,"

explaining that his habit of saying "what if" often led

directly

to the art he produced. To an art colleague, Raymond’s chief quality

as an artist was that he was always searching, always trying different

things. Would-be summaries of Raymond’s paintings as "chromatic

abstractions," or "illusionistic trompe l’oeil" or even

"the power of primary shapes on optical fields using acrylics

on canvas" — don’t begin to explain the magnetism of his art.

In an interview in his Princeton home studio a few years ago, Raymond

talked about his life and his work — much of which was on view

in his home and in his light-filled working space upstairs. A tall,

fit man with white hair and thick eyebrows that overhung the frames

of his glasses, he led a walking tour of his paintings, which in turn

reflected his wide-ranging art interests. The studio’s white walls

served perfectly for display of his exciting, colorful, abstract

paintings.

During one period, Raymond’s work featured conical shapes of different

sizes, sometimes upright, or tilting, or even curving. Although their

graduated colors could look airbrushed, the cones were actually

defined

by strips of tape and painted with rollers. Some color combinations

nearly sizzled in intensity: tones of electric blue on a red ground.

At the very least, they vibrated, and their futuristic titles, like

"Zones and Sectors," matched their otherworldly and slightly

eerie look.

Those paintings, Raymond said, were made in a time when he wanted

to eliminate any sign of the painting process; he wanted the work

to look "manufactured." Fittingly, he favored industrial and

geometric shapes. Though he had started out years before as an artist

who enjoyed manipulating paint, he said he "got conceptual and

self-conscious" about the act of painting. "I think I was

trying hard not to be emotional," he added — despite the hot

colors he was using.

At another time, his interest shifted to space. He

played

with jagged, irregular frames that provided real depth — three

dimensions on the outside. "That has you suspend your disbelief

about the painting," he explained, for the painting itself

included

trompe l’oeil elements that gave only the illusion of depth

in a two-dimensional space. Showing how he had broken up the

composition

and shifted the space in another work in progress, Raymond said,

"I’m

not sure where my observing eye is" — and that was good

because

he wanted to create "ambiguous space that you can’t quite

read,"

with more than one point of view.

At first glance, string seems to play a part in some of Raymond’s

paintings, its bright line cutting across and above the planes below.

It’s not string, though, but his continued use of tape, coupled with

his color sense, that facilitates creation of the faux string. Once

more, there’s the suggestion of depth: a pronounced three-dimensional

effect in two dimensions.

By the 1990s, Raymond was moving back toward "brushiness"

and more painterly qualities. His newest work was "still refined

and hard-edged, but it was getting to be a little more open about

the space," he said. "Even though there’s modeling and

shadows,

there’s no illusion of three-dimensionality. These pieces are more

about paint than illusion."

Once more intent on paint-handling, as he had been much earlier in

his career, he began to incorporate images of buildings he liked into

his work, sometimes via collage. This work in figuration led to his

1997 "Elegies" exhibition at New York’s Phoenix Gallery, which

had long represented him. The show included nocturnal boardwalk scenes

that were both representational and haunting.

Agreeing with a visitor that some of his later work suggests a time

after everything’s gone, Raymond laughingly declared, "That’s

very much my world: unpeopled and post-something!" The melancholy,

elegaic qualities in music, poetry, life appealed to him, he said,

agreeing on "poignant" as an apt word for the CDs he listened

to in his studio — works by Satie, Faure, Chopin, Rachmaninoff.

Already on record for enjoying contradictions, Raymond would have

seen no incongruity between his preferred mood and his vibrant

chromatic

abstracts.

"I want to bring together contradictions," he said. "Maybe

if I paint big enough, I may be able to put them all together —

everything I’m interested in: photo-realist and heavy painterly

quality;

some reference to reality and no reference to reality; color and no

color. If I could do that, I’d be satisfied — maybe."

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New York City, Raymond saw van Gogh’s

"Starry Night" at the Museum of Modern Art at age 16, and

decided then on painting as his way to express feelings. His

scholarship

study at the Art Students League was interrupted by World War II,

though even while in the Army Air Corps, he used wall paint for murals

of B-24’s in combat. He returned to the Art Students League for study

with German artist George Grosz.

From the mid-1940s until around 1960, Raymond lived in the Village,

starting out in a $12-a-month cold-water flat. His neighbors included

Paul Newman, then just beginning to be noticed; Norman Mailer was

often sighted on the street. Raymond worked as a tennis pro and held

down other jobs to support his art, and he earned academic credentials

for making and teaching art: a bachelor’s from Brooklyn College;

master’s

from Hunter College, and PhD from New York University, where he also

taught for a while, besides writing art criticism. Raymond taught

college drawing and painting for about 30 years in all, most of that

time at New Jersey’s William Paterson University.

Raymond realized after a show in 1989 that he was finally free to

do only the kind of work he wanted to do, with no need to worry about

producing art to sell. He retired from teaching in 1991. On the good

days from then on, he could "wake up with a vision of what I want

to paint, and spend all day working toward that dimly remembered dream

picture."

His work, he said, allowed him to "dip into my private world that

is accessible through painting. When I paint, I access the community

of painters, those who came before me, my contemporaries, and

sometimes,

I imagine, those to come."

— Pat Summers

David Raymond Retrospective, Montgomery Center for

the Arts , 1860 House, 124 Montgomery Road, Skillman, 609-921-3272.

Opening reception for "A Collection of Festive and Celebratory

Art," on view to February 10. Pat Martin, an abstract artist based

in New Hope and a member of the Princeton Artists Alliance, gives

a gallery talk at 2 p.m. Martin’s video of her visit with David

Raymond

in his studio was among the sources consulted for this story. Free.

Sunday, January 6, 1 to 4 p.m.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street,

609-497-7330.

"Facing the Truth: The Art of the Portrait," an international

group exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints by

more than a dozen artists from Europe and the U.S. To January 12.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Numina Gallery, Princeton High School, Moore Street,

609-806-4280.

Mel Leipzig, paintings and studies, a show curated by students. All

proceeds go directly to PHS art programs. Monday to Friday, 3 to 5

p.m. To January 14.

Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau Street, 609-924-7855.

"Artista Cuba," contemporary Cuban folk art from the

collection

of Jorge Armenteros who has been studying and collecting Cuban art

since 1996. Works from the fine art world as well as rustic art made

of found materials. "At its best, Cuban folk art is vivid,

symbolic,

sensual, and inspiring. In it, you will find a purity of appreciation

for light, color, and life’s simple pleasures," says Armenteros.

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Campus Arts

Art Museum, Princeton University, 609-258-3788.

"Empire

of Stone: Roman Sculpture in the Art Museum" and "Pliny’s

Cup: Roman Silver in the Age of Augustus;" to January 20. Tuesday

to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours of the

collection every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Also "Camera Women," a selective survey of the history of

photography from the perspective of the woman photographer, organized

by Carol Armstrong. It includes works by Julia Margaret Cameron, Anna

Atkins, Gertrude Kasebier, Tina Modotti, Sherrie Levine, Cindy

Sherman,

and others. And "Contemporary Photographs." Both shows to

January 6.

Firestone Library, Milberg Gallery, Princeton University,

609-258-3184. "Not for Myself Alone: A Celebration of

Jewish-American

Writers," the debut show for the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Collection

of Jewish-American Writers that ranges from the early 19th century

to the present. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and

Sunday,

noon to 5.

p.m. On view to April 21.

The exhibit includes manuscripts, such as a draft of a poem by Stanley

Kunitz, letters by Hannah Arendt, Nathanael West, Clifford Odets,

Lionel Trilling and Susan Sontag, and photographic portraits of the

writers.

Princeton University, Firestone Library,

609-258-5049.

In the lobby: "The Japanese Print," an exhibit curated by

Alfred Bush. To January 31.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Making Paths," paintings by

Ley Breuel, a Princeton artist who comes to painting from a career

in design and illustration, most notably with Walt Disney Design.

Her interest is in representing paths of human life "some replete

with roots, fear, stumbling stones, steep climbs; others alive with

peace, compassion, comfort." Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday,

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Reception is January

16, at 4:30 p.m., for the show that runs to February 1.

Area Galleries

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown,

609-298-3742.

"Giant Exhibit of Miniature Art," annual show featuring more

than 200 works by 25 artists and featuring Florida artist Peggie

Hornbrook.

Gallery hours are Wednesday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday mornings,

and by appointment. To February 1.

Rubel Studio, 4454 Main Street, Kingston, 732-940-7611.

"The Empty Sky," a photography exhibition by Donna Clovis

based on the World Trade Center disaster, as she experienced it as

a commuter from Princeton Junction to NYU. To January 5.

Top Of Page
Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park,

609-989-3632.

"The Three M’s: Marge, Marguerite, and Molly," featuring works

by Trenton artists Marge Chavooshian, Marguerite Dorenbach, and Molly

Merlino. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;

Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To January 6.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. Open Tuesday through Sunday,

10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday is Members Day. Adult admission

is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday and Saturday; and $10

Sunday.

Annual memberships start at $45. To February 24.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

609-292-6464. "George Washington and the Battle of Trenton: The

Evolution of an American Image," an exhibition that documents

the historic context of the American Revolution, the "Ten Crucial

Days" of the Trenton campaign that was the turning point, and

the subsequent commemoration of George Washington’s heroic image by

American artists. To February 24.

Also "Images of Americans on the Silver Screen," to April

14. "Art by African-Americans in the Collection," to August

18. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.;

Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Website: www.njstatemuseum.org.

On extended view: "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The

Archaeological

Record"; "Delaware Indians of New Jersey"; "The Sisler

Collection of North American Mammals"; "Of Rock and Fire";

"Neptune’s Architects"; "The Modernists"; "New

Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron"; "Washington Crossing

the Delaware."

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Art by the River

ABC Gallery, Lambertville Public Library, 6 Lilly Street,

609-397-0275. "Little Windows," an exhibition of acrylics

on paper and canvas by Sharon Nieburg. Open Monday and Thursday, 1

to 9 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5

p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 12.

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville,

609-397-0804.

Winter Exhibition features Albert Bross Jr. and Vincent Ceglia.

Gallery

hours are Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To January 6.

Gratz Gallery, 30 West Bridge Street, New Hope,

215-862-4300.

"Crilley 2002," an exhibition of new oils by Joseph Crilley.

Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday,

noon to 6 p.m. To January 6.

Tin Man Alley, 12 West Mechanic Street, New Hope,

215-862-1110.

"Mars-Barr," a shared show featuring Chris Mars’s brooding

figures and Glenn Barr’s voluptuous lounge lizards. Website:

www.tinmanalley.net.

Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To January 28.

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Area Museums

Hunterdon Museum of Art, Lower Center Street, Clinton,

908-735-8415. "Degrees of Figuration," a diverse exploration

of the human figure by five artists: Bill Leech, Tom Nussbaum, Keary

Rosen, Linda Stojak, and Charles Yuen. Also "Frank Sabatino,"

abstract wall sculptures created from rare woods and found objects.

And "Karl Stirner," welded iron abstract sculpture. Museum

hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 6.

Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown,

215-340-9800. "Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism in

Pennsylvania

Painting, 1950 to 2000," an exhibition featuring the work of

nationally

recognized realist artists and educators who were born and trained

in Pennsylvania, or who spent their professional careers there.

Featured

artists include Diane Burko, Sidney Goodman, Alice Neel, Philip

Pearlstein,

Nelson Shanks, Andy Warhol, Neil Welliver, and Andrew Wyeth. To

January

6. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday,

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m. $6.

Also: "Taking Liberties: Photographs of David Graham." The

Bucks County photographer, sometimes called a

"photo-anthropologist,"

has worked for 20 years exploring the nation’s heartland with his

view camera, and lovingly recording the creative and offbeat ways

that Americans mark their territory; to January 27.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New

Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Baltics: Nonconformist and Modernist

Art During the Soviet Era," the first major survey of modernist

art produced in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during the post-World

War II Soviet period. The show features 150 works from the Zimmerli’s

Dodge Collection produced in reaction to communist repression. Show

continues to March 17. Also "St. Petersburg, 1921," to March

10. $3 adults; free to students and children.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;

Saturday

and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free; museum

is open free to the public on the first Sunday of every month.

Spotlight

tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m.


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