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Art, Out of the Blue
These artists can’t hold a paintbrush, but their art
resonates with feelings and thoughts. They may have to draw with a
laser pointer fastened to their forehead and apply colors by guiding
an assistant’s hand, but their abstract paintings reveal a sense of
freedom. The young artists of the A.R.T. (Artistic Realization
Program have an exhibition, "Out of the Blue," at the 1860
House of the Montgomery Cultural Center. The opening reception is
Sunday, January 9, from 2 to 5 p.m., and the show continues to
Tim Lefens, a Belle Mead artist, founded A.R.T. (Artistic Realization
Techniques) with a seed grant from artist Roy Lichtenstein (whom he
met through a friendship with Lichtenstein’s son).
Lefens, 46, was raised in Belle Mead, one of four children. His father
is a retired civil engineer and their mother taught nursing. He says
the idea of a life in art came to him, "clearly and
at age four after a near-death experience brought about by his severe
asthma. A child who had already spent a lot of time drawing, he says
"I came back a different person. I really wasn’t interested in
kiddie things any more."
At 15, the friendship he formed with David Lichtenstein, son of the
famous painter, set his future direction. "Meeting an adult who
took art very seriously put the cap on my determination to go for
it." He earned a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, then
pursued graduate work at Rutgers before entering the New York art
Lefens began his involvement with disabled artists in
1992 as a guest artist of the Arts Access Program at the Matheny
and Hospital in Peapack, a facility that specializes in the care and
treatment of young people with severe physical and neurological
such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophy.
A.R.T. (www.artrealization.org) now operates at seven
sites in New Jersey: Mercer Junior/Senior High School and New Jersey
Regional Day School at Hamilton (both located on the campus of Mercer
County Community College); and New Jersey Department of Human Services
Office of Education facilities in Somerset, Gloucester, Burlington,
and Cumberland. The organization is in the process of expanding the
program to the Woodbridge Developmental Center, a residential facility
of 700 students.
"We’re a radical little company that has made it into contracting
to the State of New Jersey," says Lefens. "We want to work
with anyone who cannot use their hands to articulate tools. And we
want to create a model that state-run facilities can embrace."
In 1998, A.R.T. was honored with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s
Community Health Leadership Award for "changing the shape of
care." The award came with a $100,000 grant to continue and expand
his organization. A.R.T. has been featured on CNN and the CBS Evening
Exhibitions have ranged from Art’s Garage in Hopewell, to
Squibb," and the gallery at the office of ABC in New York City.
"The goal of abstraction is to reflect a sense of freedom that
is greater than the limits of your body," says Lefens. "And
I think that it’s the same for the able-bodied and the disabled
Both look inward for their inspiration; and they try to create an
image that will ignite a field of energy that is more reminiscent
of the spirit than of the sensations of the body. From their heart,
it goes right onto that open field of the canvas."
House, 124 Montgomery Road, 609-921-3272. Opening reception Sunday,
January 9, for show that continues to February 26. 1 to 4 p.m.
Girl," directed by Marty Gasparian, Friday, January 7, 6:30-9:30
p.m., and Sunday, January 9, 1 to 5 p.m., at Kelsey Theater, Mercer
County College. All roles open for the cast of 30 strong singing
and dancers. Bring a prepared song. For appointment, call
people ages 11 to 18 with little or no previous training in the arts,
for free classes in dancing and acting, January to June. Interviews
and auditions will be Saturday, January 8, from 9 a.m. Call
January 9, 2 to 4 p.m., for its program of one-act plays scheduled
for March and April. Roles are for men and women ages mid-20s to
Auditions and performances are at the Yardley Community Center, 64
South Main Street, Yardley. Call 609-586-1774.
a limited number of openings for volunteer and paid singers.
are Tuesday nights at All Saints’ Church, Princeton. Its season
Dominick Argento’s "Jonah and the Whale" in March and
Symphony No. 9 in May. For audition appointment, call 609-683-5122.
its 40th anniversary season, Monday, January 10, at 7:30 p.m. Open
house and registration begins at 7 p.m. at Hopewell Valley Central
High School, Pennington. Call 609-278-4298.
Can Wait," Monday and Tuesday, January 10 and 11, at 7:30 p.m.,
at Crosswicks Community Center, for performances in March. Call
by Bernard Slade, Tuesday and Wednesday, January 11 and 12, at the
Clarksburg Inn, Route 524. Call Connie Carey, 609-426-9489, after
for a one-act play production. For information and appointment, call
for grades 2 to 8, wants to expand its library. The school needs
of fiction and non-fiction books of all kinds; but not encyclopedias.
To help, call Denise Kahney, 609-921-6431.
oyster eaters (yes, contestants for a mollusk consuming contest) for
Superbowl Sunday, January 30, at the Blue Point Grill on Nassau
The entry fee is $25 and proceeds go to the Race for the Cure.
judges and oyster counters are also needed. Call Jane Rodney at
for information. Entry forms are available at the restaurant, Nassau
Street Seafood, and Volvo of Princeton.
Directory and Artist Registry for visual artists, literary artists,
performing artists, and cultural organizations. The directory will
serve those seeking to commission work as well as promoting
among the arts community. To be included, call 609-695-8155.
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