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This article by Cassidy Enoch-Rex was prepared for the April 19, 2006
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
An Artist in Realtor’s Clothing
"I could not predict that this would be the kind of work that I would
be doing, because my only experience before I started painting was
realistic things – real gardens, real objects on a table – and it’s
really fascinating to see this development into abstraction," says
Gilda Aronovic about the course her painting has taken over the past
30 years. Aronovic is also a real estate broker for Henderson
Sotheby’s International in Princeton, a 30-year dual career that she
describes as "a wonderful tradeoff" and "a really nice balance."
"Painting is a really solitary occupation, whereas real estate is a
very interactive one. When you go to look at houses or when you are
showing houses, there’s really an intersection (of my two careers)
because you can evaluate the architecture and the decorating and the
garden, and sometimes they’ll have beautiful paintings on the walls,
and sometimes I’m just looking at the paintings. Occasionally, I’ll
see my own painting, one that I did a long time ago, and that’s really
A retrospective of Aronovic’s paintings spanning the last 30 years
opens Sunday, April 23, with a reception at the Henderson Sotheby’s
offices at 34 Chambers Street. The exhibit is on view to June 23. It
seems a fitting "gallery," as Aronovic describes the Henderson
Sotheby’s offices as being very supportive of her art career.
Art was not a focus of Aronovic’s early life. Her parents, Anna and
David, were both immigrants from from eastern Europe, coming to New
York City in 1911 as children. David grew up to run a kosher poultry
store in Manhattan just a block away from Anna’s father’s dairy store,
which is how they met. Aronovic and her three siblings grew up in
Manhattan. She majored in mathematics at Brooklyn College and taught
mathematics in east Harlem for six years. When she married Sanford
Aronovic, an analytical chemist, they moved around a bit, eventually
settling in Princeton, where she has been for the past 38 years.
When I ask Aronovic how she got started painting, she says she didn’t
become interested until she was an adult. "My twin sister had been
painting, and she was doing very well and enjoying it. I had little
kids and I was at home most of the time, and I was really looking for
something to do, a hobby or an interest, and she suggested that I try
a painting class.
Aronovic joined a private class that Sam Feinstein, a student of Hans
Hoffman, taught in Princeton to a group of women every Tuesday. "I was
very much inspired and excited by his teaching, and that’s how I
really got started." Teaching modern painting as exemplified by
Kandinsky, Feinstein focused on color forms, complexes, gesture, and
positive and negative space, utilizing still-lifes as the basic
platform. Aronovic attended Feinstein’s class once a week for 25
Says Aronovic: "Hoffman was a great colorist, and Sam was able to
teach you about color. As a matter of fact, I always remember when I
saw my first Hoffman. I was at a gallery in New York City, where
Hoffman was having a show, and I walked into the gallery and all this
color came at me, and I just felt like I had been living in black and
white, and all of a sudden I knew what color was. It was a very
In her earlier works, the influence of Hoffman’s color and Feinstein’s
teaching is evident. The objects in her still-lifes are depicted by
patches of color, rather than line. Variation in color helps define
volume and spatial relationships within the picture plane. Though the
objects are recognizable, they are somewhat abstracted, as Aronovic
concentrates on the formal dynamics of color and space.
Aronovic frequents galleries in New York, going to shows every two
months. "I love going to the galleries. And what’s really nice, going
to the galleries over the years, is that I’ve found artists that I
relate to, and those artists will have shows every three years or so.
When you go in, you see how they’ve changed and what they’re doing at
the current time, and it’s almost as if they’ve become a friend. Even
though you have never met them you have a real relationship to that
artist. A lot of my learning has been through my visits to the
Over the years Aronovic’s art has become purely abstract. She stopped
attending Feinstein’s class about 10 years ago when she decided to
work abstractly, working from the mind and memory instead of the
still-life. Her more recent work shows greater ties to some of the
artists she has seen evolve over the years and whom she admires,
namely Willem De Kooning and Joan Mitchell. Aronovic’s current
abstracts seem to deal purely with color and gesture. The canvases are
covered in bright colors, often the primaries in unapologetic strokes,
much more active than in the earlier still-lifes. According to
Aronovic, she feels her return to the use of primary colors may be due
to the fact that she did not get to experience painting as a child.
Aronovic has had five one-person shows, at the Gallery at the
Princeton Jewish Center, Princeton University’s Bernstein Gallery,
Princeton Public Library, West Windsor Public Library, and New Jersey
National Bank in Princeton. She has participated in eight juried group
shows, and won several awards including "Best in Show" at Montgomery
Center of the Arts in 2002.
As for her own children, they seem to have taken more to Aronovic’s
real estate side, as none of them are practicing art, but all are
involved in business and real estate in one form or another. Hoever,
Aronovic is pleased to report that she has "some talented grandkids in
the arts" who may follow in the footsteps of her artistic side.
Gilda Aronovic, Sunday, April 23, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Henderson
Sotheby’s International Realty, 34 Chambers Street. A 30-year
retrospective of the artist’s work. For the last 30 years, Aronovic
has been juggling two careers – artist and real estate broker. On
view to June 23. Gallery hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 609-924-1000.
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