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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. ( 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."

A.R.T. Out of the Blue, Montgomery Cultural Center, 1860

House, 124 Montgomery Road, 609-921-3272. Opening reception Sunday,

January 9, for show that continues to February 26. 1 to 4 p.m.

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Playful Theater Productions has auditions for "Funny

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


Theater/Dance Workshop, Lawrence Township, seeks young

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


The Theater Guild of New Jersey has auditions Sunday,

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.

Princeton Pro Musica has auditions January 10 to 14 for

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.

The Hopewell Valley Chorus begins weekly rehearsals for

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.

The New Bordentown Players have auditions for "Heaven

Can Wait," Monday and Tuesday, January 10 and 11, at 7:30 p.m.,

at Crosswicks Community Center, for performances in March. Call


South Street Players has auditions for "Tribute"

by Bernard Slade, Tuesday and Wednesday, January 11 and 12, at the

Clarksburg Inn, Route 524. Call Connie Carey, 609-426-9489, after

6 p.m.

Theater/Dance Workshop, Lawrence Township, has auditions

for a one-act play production. For information and appointment, call


Donations Wanted

The ESC School, Kingston, an alternative elementary school

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.

Participate Please

The Princeton YWCA Breast Cancer Resource Center seeks

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.

The Trenton Arts Connection has developed a Cultural


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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