Art in Town

Campus Arts

Art In Trenton

Area Museums

Art in the Workplace

Art by the River


Call for Entries

Participate Please

Corrections or additions?

This article by F.R. Rivera was prepared for the February 26, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Art Review: `Altered Books’

The world of altered books occupies a small but meaningful

niche in the work that artists do. Whether as inspiration or raw material,

books present a point of departure. Apart from illustrating, designing,

or hand printing a book, to alter a book is to re-create it. When

one re-creates anything one runs the risk of destroying its integrity.

On the other hand, given the number of books on the planet in this

post-Gutenberg 21st century, alteration can also offer the opportunity

to rescue them from the trash bin of neglect.

Altering is what artists do much of the time, as a fundamental part

of creating art. The components of found sculpture — a rusty bicycle

seat, for example — shed their functionality when combined with

other found objects.

Max Ernst, who emerged from the literary culture of Dada and Surrealism,

is one example of an artist who was inspired by books. He gave new

life to 19th-century engravings in his mother of all graphic novels

"Une Semaine de Bonte" ("A Week of Goodness"). His

scripting of images was wildly surrealistic, but he remained loyal

to the sequential nature of a book.

"Altered Books: Spine Chilling Thrillers," a group show featuring

works by 14 artists, selected by guest curator Karen McDermott, opened

at the Gallery at Rider University on February 6. It can be seen there

through Thursday, March 6. With three notable exceptions, the Ernst

approach is absent from this show. The exceptions are "Flash Back,

Flash Forward, An Interrupted Reading" by Sandra Jackman, and

two pieces by Kerrie Carbary, "The Wallbook" and "The

Field Book of Common Rocks and Minerals." They emphatically urge

the viewer to handle them (protective gloves are provided) and even

to read them in the manner of a conventional book.

Other objects resembling books, although physically

open, feel closed and remote. Such a piece is "Bookstone"

by Pamela Paulsrud, which is like a fossil, a mere shell of its former

life. A similar response is evoked by the work of Maria G. Pisano,

Harriet Bart, and Beth Cote. These objects may move us, but they are

only tangentially related to the normal world of books, which are

read and read sequentially.

Most of these altered books cannot be read. There is, for example,

the work of Sarah Stengle of Trenton, who assures the inaccessibility

of her altered book, "Scarlet Revision," by cloistering it

inside a glass-sealed box. A thicket of discarded crutches by Maria

Anasazi, entitled "Still Standing," like many other pieces

in this show of installation art, is so idiosyncratically removed

from books that it begs our indulgence.

A real hand saw, a hammer atop two plump pillows, and a wall-mounted

baseball catcher’s chest guard by Byron Clercx offer only a scant

trace of text barely visible on the wooden hand grips of the saw and

the hammer. Pleasantly anarchic, Duchampian, yes, but no altered book.

Miriam Schaer of Brooklyn writes in her catalog statement that "the

processes of bookbinding and surgery have much in common: cutting

and sewing to make something whole." This is a perfectly good

statement that has nothing to do with her work. In a piece entitled

"Body of Knowledge," Schaer uses lots of paper, much of it

wadded inside of clear plastic figures, male and female. How this

piece is an altered book is anyone’s guess. Without judging this piece

or any other, one can still question the opportunism that inspired


More forthright is Doug Beube, who acknowledges that his relationship

to books ends at the point where he recycles the paper they were printed

on. What may have begun as 50 pulp fictions or 12 phone directories,

are reborn as paper sculptures — such as nascent buds that explode

into extravagant bouquets from the wall, or a serpentine GI tract

that coils on the floor.

To Make or Remake?

There is a lot of good work in this show, but it seems far removed

from the romance evoked by guest curator Karen McDermott when she

writes about finding a small, 1960 day-book belonging to her mother

which contained bits of "paper, pictures, and cartoons" not

unlike a time capsule. We are not surprised that when she opened it

her "heart skipped a beat." An old book affects us a little

like a Codex; it is intoxicating for the person who discovers it.

The artists who come closest to capturing a comparable feeling of

nostalgia or romance demonstrate respect for the architecture of the

book, while adding a secret compartment. These artists include Carbary,

Cote, Penny Dimos, and Liz Mitchell. Their work underscores the fact

that between two covers lies concealed treasure. They augment the

role of the book, while at the same time personalizing it, not unlike

Max Ernst in "A Week of Goodness."

In Mitchell’s "Self-Contained," for example, which could be

the artist’s journal, a coil nestles snugly into a niche that has

been sealed and secured by four screws. What is this coil? Why

is it so protected? Does the hand-written note on the opposite page

offer a clue?

In another piece, by Dimos, the web contained in the pages of an actual

book is tantalizing and enigmatic. Dimos has created the most powerful

piece in the show. It resonates in memory long after one has seen

it. In remaking her book, Dimos catapults us into her very special

world of emotionally-charged issues, where superstition and religion

both exist. She gives us the intensity of Frazer’s "Golden Bough"

without turning a single page.

In her catalog statement, Dimos writes of being taken by the myth

of Arachne who continuously wove spider webs to avoid human death.

To deal with issues of such magnitude requires a big important book.

She has chosen the Bible, open to the psalms. A second piece in the

"Bible/Webs" series is no less impressive.

Dimos is from Toronto. The other artists in the exhibition, including

three from New Jersey — Pisano, Mitchell, and Stengle — are

from locations across the country. The show is beautifully installed

and is accompanied by a handsome color catalog.

— F.R. Rivera

Altered Books: Spine Bending Thrillers, Rider University

Art Gallery , Student Center, 2085 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville,

609-895-5589. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.

to 7 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Show runs to March 6.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Chapin School, 4101 Princeton Pike, 609-924-7206. "Asia

In My Mind," an exhibition of photography by Barbara Bickford.

Educated at London’s Slade School of Art, Bickford’s images of China,

Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia reflect her fascination

with those countries and their culture. Show runs to March 7.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158

Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "From Tow Path to Bike Path: Princeton

and the Delaware and Raritan Canal," an exhibition on the history

and creation of the canal, the life of death of its workers, and recent

environmental and preservation issues. Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon

to 4 p.m.; through March.

Medical Center at Princeton, 253 Witherspoon Street, 609-497-4000.

Traditional and contemporary Chinese paintings by Seow-Chu See. A

member of the Garden State Watercolor Society, her work has been shown

in group and solo exhibits throughout the area. To March 19.

Princeton Jewish Center, 435 Nassau Street, 609-921-0100.

A show of exuberant oils by the Russian-born artist who paints under

the name YomTov. The artist, who has made Israel his home since 1994,

is inspired by Jewish themes. His works include expressionistic, spiritual

interpretations of biblical figures and events. Part of sales benefits

the center. Gallery is open Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;

Friday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To March 16.

SweeTree Gallery, 286 Alexander Street, 609-934-8665.

"Brotherly Love, Art from the African Diaspora" featuring

paintings by Rhinold Lamar Ponder and Keith Goffe. Also works by artists

from Haiti, Grenada, Jamaica, and Guyana. Open Fridays and Saturdays,

1 to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To March 15.

Top Of Page
Campus Arts

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

Photographs of Ed Ranney: The John B. Elliott Collection," an

overview of the artist’s career from 1970 and 1999. First recognized

for his photographic studies of Mayan stonework in the 1970s, Ranney

began an ongoing collaboration with the artist Charles Ross in 1979,

documenting the evolution of Ross’s earthwork sculpture "Star

Axis," a monumental naked-eye celestial observatory being carved

into a cliff face in eastern New Mexico. Ranney will give a lecture

on "Space and Place" Wednesday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. in McCormick

106. Show runs to June 7.

Also "Seeing the Unseen: Abstract Photography, 1900 to 1940,"

to March 23. "The Arts of Asia: Works in the Permanent Collection"

to June 30. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday

1 to 5 p.m. Highlights tours every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Milberg Gallery, Firestone Library, Princeton University,

609-258-3184. "Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book

Designers," a Milberg Gallery exhibition curated by Rebecca Warren

Davidson. To March 30.

Bernstein Gallery, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson

School, 609-258-1651. "Africa’s Lunatics," works by French

photographer Vincent Fougere that depict how Africa cares for and

treats its mentally ill. After a childhood spent in Ivory Coast, Fougere

spent eight years traveling across Africa to photograph its bruised

souls. Gallery open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 21.

Lawrenceville School, Gruss Center of Visual Arts, Lawrenceville,

609-620-6026. In the Hutchins Gallery, "Crossing Borders: The

Photographs of Barbara Beirne," 21 black-and-white photographs

of first and second- generation American the high school students.

Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday

and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. To March 4.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Fabrications," an exhibition

of textiles by fabric artist Carol Sara Schepps, a graduate of the

Pratt Institute of Technology in New York. Open Monday to Saturday,

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 8 p.m. To March 14.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New

Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "George Segal: Sculpture, Paintings,

and Drawings from the Artist’s Studio;" to May 26. Also: "June

Wayne: Selected Graphics, 1950 to 2000;" to June 29. Open Tuesday

through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to

5 p.m. Tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under

18 free; and free on the first Sunday of every month.

Top Of Page
Art In Trenton

Extension Gallery, 60 Sculptors Way, Mercerville, 609-890-7777.

"The Sum of Its Parts," an exhibition of paintings, assemblage,

kinetic, and static sculpture by Joanna Platt. Opening reception Saturday,

February 15, 5 to 7 p.m. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To March 6.

A graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, she is

supervisor of the pattern development department of the Johnson Atelier.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. In the Museum, new work by glass

artist Dale Chihuly, to April 6. 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.

Individual memberships start at $55.

Rhinehart-Fischer Gallery, 46 West Lafayette, Trenton,

609-695-0061. Ritch Gaiti, "Returning to the Spirits, A Painted

Journey of the West." A self-taught painter, Gaiti spent 26 ears

in the corporate world and retired from his first career as the first

vice president and senior director of advanced technology at Merrill

Lynch. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To April 26.

Area Galleries

Abud Family Foundation for the Arts, 3100 Princeton Pike,

Building 4, third floor, Lawrenceville, 609-896-0732. Solo show

of paintings and sculptures by Mexican artist Rony Chubich. Gallery

is open by appointment, Wednesday to Saturday, 1:30 to 6 p.m. To April


Created by area neurosurgoen Ariel Abud and his family, the Abud Foundation

promotes the contemporary arts of Spain, Latin America, and Central

America. It awards stipends to artists, with an invitation to travel

to the U.S. and exhibit their work in the small Lawrenceville gallery.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, 609-333-8511.

Shared show featuring "Water in Motion" by Jay Goodkind and

"Without Tools He is Nothing," new works by Robert Borsuk.

Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

To March 16.

Nonesuch Framing & Fine Art, 1378 Route 206 South, Skillman,

609-252-0020. Exhibition of Japanese paper dolls, or washiningyo

handmade by Jill Nielsen. Also on view, Japanese woodblock prints,

both antique and modern. Show runs to March 14.

Nielsen lived in Japan for eight years and studied with master doll

maker Nishizawa Yasuomu for three years. Her dolls are 10-inch-tall,

three-dimensional sculptures made of Japanese paper, cotton, and wire.

Top Of Page
Area Museums

American Hungarian Foundation Museum, 300 Somerset Street,

New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New World,"

recent additions to the collection featuring works by nine Hungarian

Americans who emigrated to the U.S. between 1920 and 1957. Artists

are Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bertha and Elena DeHellenbranth, Sandor Sugor,

Emil Kelemen, Willy Pogany, Tibor Gergely, Zoltan Poharnok, and Vincent

Korda. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and

Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $5 donation. Through April.

Cornelius Low House Museum, 1225 River Road, Piscataway,

732-745-4177. "Uncommon Clay: New Jersey’s Architectural Terra

Cotta Industry," an exhibition of artifacts and written and oral

histories of New Jersey’s once booming architectural ceramics industry.

Open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.

To May 30.

Hunterdon Museum of Art, Lower Center Street, Clinton,

908-735-8415. "2003 Annual Members Exhibition," juror Rocio

Aranda-Alvarado of Jersey City Museum. "Drawings by John Patterson:

Process, Reveries, and Accumulations." Open Tuesday to Sunday,

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 8.

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

609-292-6464. "Cultures in Competition: Indians and Europeans

in Colonial New Jersey," a show that traces the impact of European

settlement on the native Indians’ way of life after 1600. On extended

view: "Art by African-Americans: A Selection from the Collection;"

"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;" "Historical Archaeology of Colonial

New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown,

215-340-9800. "Randall Exon: A Quiet Light," a solo show by

the Philadelphia-area painter and Swarthmore College professor; to

April 27. "A Home of Our Own," a show that commemorates Levittown’s

50th anniversary featuring the contemporary photographs of Jean Klatchko

and vintage objects from the State Museum; to April 13. Winter hours:

Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;

and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission $6 adults; $3 students and children.

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Route 206, Lawrenceville,

609-252-6275. "Hidden Threads," a show featuring six New Jersey

textile artists, each working with the medium in a different way.

Soyoo Park Caltabiano, Nancy Staub Laughlin, Patricia Malarcher, Joy

Saville, Armando Sosa, and Erma Martin Yost are featured. Open Monday

to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. To

March 16.

Top Of Page
Art by the River

E.M. Adams Gallery, 44 Union Square Drive, New Hope, 215-862-5667.

Painter and sculptor Edward M. Adams’ new gallery space. A widely

exhibited artist, Adams is also a licensed psychologist with a private

practice in Somerville. Winter gallery hours Friday, Saturday, and

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Atelier Gallery, 108 Harrison Street, Frenchtown, 908-996-9992.

"Creatures," a theme art show to benefit the Hunterdon County

SPCA animal shelter. Featured artists include Robert Beck, Anne Cooper

Dobbins, Lisa Mahan, Kim Robertson, Barry Snyder, and Stacie Speer-Scott.

Gallery is open Thursday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To March 31.

Coryell Gallery & Lambertville Historical Society, 8 Coryell

Street, Lambertville, 609-397-0804. Lambertville Historical Society’s

23d annual juried art exhibition, "Lambertville and the Surrounding

Area." Juror is Mel Leipzig. The show’s eight award-winning artists

are Tom Birkner, W. Carl Burger, Vincent Ceglia, Marge Chavooshian,

Alexander Farnham, Bryan Fisher, Robert Sakson, and Luiz Vilela. Gallery

hours are Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To March 16.

Louisa Melrose Gallery, 41 Bridge Street, Frenchtown,

908-996-1470. "Too Soon for Spring?" show features flower-theme

works by 20 gallery artists including W. Carl Burger, Christina Debarry,

and Charles Nelson. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March


Top Of Page

Villagers Theatre, 475 Demott Lane, Somerset, has

auditions for "Small Craft Warnings" by Tennessee Williams,

directed by Jonathan Wierzbicki, on Sunday, March 2, and Tuesday March

4, at 7 p.m. Cast calls for two women and six men. Call 732-873-2710

or visit

Top Of Page
Call for Entries

The Arts Council of Princeton is preparing to publish

its 15th edition of "Under Age," an anthology of poetry,


and artwork by students under 18. Students are encouraged to submit

their most creative works of literature and artwork. Submissions in

both English and Spanish will be accepted. Illustrations must be in

black and white, and no larger than 8.5 x 12 inches. Deadline for

submissions is Friday, March 14. Call the Arts Council at


The Princeton Area Community Foundation seeks proposals

for county and state-wide grants to public benefit organizations. Up

to $500,000 is available through Greater Mercer Grants for programs

that serve girls and the women who raise them, HIV/AIDS education and

prevention through the New Jersey AIDS Partnership, and programs that

support Mercer County and its neighboring communities. For

information, call 609-688-0342 or visit

Top Of Page
Participate Please

Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum invite

the public to join a day trip to view "Degas and the Dance,"

an exhibition of works by the celebrated Edgar Degas at the


Art Museum on Thursday, March 6, from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The show

draws on public and private collections in a dozen countries,

including work from the Princeton University Art Museum. After lunch

at the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, the Friends will visit the Rodin

Museum which includes some of the artist’s greatest works, including

"The Thinker," "The Burghers of Calais," and "The

Gates of Hell." Cost of the trip is $105 for non-members. For

information and reservations call Eir Danielson of the Friends,


International Music and Dance Weekend at Appel Farm Arts

and Music Center takes place March 7 to 9. Registration of $255

includes Friday and Saturday night accommodations, workshops, meals,

snacks, parties, and printed materials. Call 856-825-6800 or visit

Lawrence Historical Society is renting the 1761 Brearley

House for weddings, retreats, and other social events. Call Alison

Roth at 609-895-1728.

Next Story

Corrections or additions?

This page is published by

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments