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This review by F.R. Rivera was prepared for the January 29, 2003 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Art Review: The Ellarslie

Wendell Brooks is a settled artist who found himself

early. Even as a student at Indiana University in the late 1960s,

he gravitated toward printmaking. His very distinctive motifs followed

and have held steady over the past 30 years, during which he has had

more than 20 exhibitions. His color has been equally settled since

the mid-1970s, when he began to narrow his palette and eventually

lapsed permanently into brown.

Michael Gyampo and Michael Gyampo Jr., who are third and fourth

generation

sculptors, are far less settled than Brooks, by all accounts. How

could it be otherwise? Their careers have been shorter, particularly

the career of Michael Gyampo Jr., who is just 14 years old, but is

clearly an emerging artist of considerable gifts.

The work of all three artists is on display at the Ellarslie, the

Trenton City Museum, in Cadwalader Park, to Sunday, February 23.

Both Gyampo father and Gyampo son are inclined to experiment. Because

they use natural materials — stone, wood, bronze — their

colors

are earth colors like warm gray, cocoa, beige, chestnut, rust, and

olive. They have arrived at a palette that is almost indistinguishable

from that of Brooks.

Happily, the imagery of all three artists conveys none of the sobriety

of their color choices. Whether the artists are depicting brawling

teammates ("Squad" by Gyampo) or a young sprinter ("Eat

My Dust" by Gyampo Jr.), or the recurrent Louisville slugger

figure

used by Brooks, most images are unabashed representations of action

figures stripped of ambiguity.

The work of all three artists also includes a small number of more

esoteric representations that invite interpretation. Such a figure

is the half-bird/half-woman that appears in the show’s three most

recent works by Brooks — "Connected,"

"Imagination,"

and "Discipline," all done in 2002. This figure has the

haunting

air of the supernatural and is a welcome shift in direction for

Brooks.

He still hangs on, however, to certain favored symbols — like

his kicking horse or his frontal view of a basketball dribbler that

resembles the ubiquitous NBA logo. In fact, many of the other animals

and figures in his repertoire seem familiar.

They are action snapshots, recast as a master template. By repeating

the images and repositioning them on the page, Brooks creates a kind

of rolling frieze that recalls ancient Greek vase decoration. The

key to his admirable consistency over the past 30 years is that Brooks

has used the same set of templates. His arrangement of the figures

may change but the forms do not. They are assigned to different

regions

of the picture plane in what appears to be a hierarchical order.

Land animals, domestic or wild, game birds or geese, dancers or

athletes,

equestrians or ornamental fragments, all play their assigned roles,

breaking down into smaller and smaller units, until they finally shave

off into a vermicelli mix of tiny marks.

Brooks is at his best when he mystifies ("Connected") and

invites us to decipher his meaning. The same may be said of the

Gyampos:

they are most engaging when they abandon the literal action figures

in favor of the strange.

Gyampo Sr., for example, shows two pieces that could be described

as "space probes" — jury-rigged, half-robot, half-living

creatures. One is a mass of gnarled walnut, like a gigantic root,

all twisted and exaggerated, as its title "Nightmare" would

suggest. It appears to await a countdown, poised to launch, its three

legs touching three black pads.

The second work is a four-legged contraption, perhaps an erstwhile

lunar explorer. It appears to have just touched down, tentatively

and is wobbling like a newborn colt. It is entitled "Get Up —

Stand Up."

Gyampo Jr., too, has grasped the value of leaving art

open to interpretation. If a cloud can resemble a galloping horse,

why can’t six ginger roots with arthritic appendages appear to be

Alpine climbers? They can and do in the painted cast bronze he calls

"Ginger Kingdom."

Brooks teaches at the College of New Jersey, while the elder Gyampo

teaches at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute for Sculpture.

What could be more natural for a father, who is both an accomplished

sculptor and an educator, than to pass his skills along to his

progeny?

Art history is full of such relationships — from Holbein to Wyeth

to the Gentileschis, art history’s favorite father and daughter

painters.

The interaction of parent as teacher, and child as learner, creative

and eager to please, presents the classic formula for making a new

artist, the fusion of nature and nurture. Normally, this is a process

that is slow and incremental. Not so in the case of young Michael

Gyampo, who is a freshman at Princeton High School. He has been

spirited

along so fast in his development that it is astonishing to think he

was only born in 1988. The credit for this remarkable development

must certainly go to his father who could provide access to materials

that the young Michael embraced.

Gyampo Jr. squeezed and rolled clay just like any other child. But

when, as a second grader, he created "The Alligator Hunter,"

it must be acknowledged that it was a very special father who had

it cast in bronze.

Doubtless the father made choices as to which pieces merited casting.

His was the educated eye. Today, however, the son’s work approaches

the creative maturity of his father. A studied, side-by-side

comparison

will find small technical deficiencies in the work of the younger

sculptor. His carving is somewhat stronger than his modeling, but

he has the potential to close the skill gap before he is a freshman

in art school.

His totem, entitled "Not Again," is similar in temperament

and execution to "Disability Ability" by the father. Carved

in cherry and maple respectively, each work depicts a droll,

sleepy-eyed

figure — possibly reminiscent of the Gyampos’ West African

heritage.

The figure by the younger Gyampo has an oversized head with flattened

features. The lips seem to bend like a plumber’s elbow joint, ending

as a tubular open mouth.

The father’s figure balances on one footless leg with an air of

"Hey,

look Ma," grinning like a late-night comic. Using the figure to

convey levity or melancholy, as the Gyampos do, is the hallmark of

a good sculptor.

A cherry-wood totem of praying hands and chains — "Justice,

Where Are You?" — may represent the father’s socio-political

concerns, but in the end it is less satisfying than many of his other

pieces.

Wendell Brooks and Michael Gyampo Sr. differ in a number of

significant

ways. Born in 1939 in Aliceville, Alabama, Brooks is older. Gyampo

was born in Ghana, in western Africa; and he earned his B.A. degree

there in 1978. Their work is compatibly installed, but the two artists

represent two distinct sensibilities: Brooks has a keen sense of

graphic

design and a proclivity for order, while Gyampo is affably blunt and

even, at times, untidy. They do, however, show a remarkable affinity

in two pieces that ought to have been installed side by side. These

are "The Way of the Warrior" by Brooks and "Fertility

Figures" by Gyampo. The works — one a print and the other

a sculpture — are almost identical arrangements of three standing

figures. Both pay homage to these artists’ African roots.

This is a show that can be appreciated on many levels. The works on

display trigger a variety of emotional responses. One such provocative

work is "Five Shadows" by the younger Gyampo. This wall piece

is installed outside the galleries in the corridor and is not to be

missed. Five stark shadows are cast by cats — or, more correctly,

what were cats. They have been laundered, shrunk, and wrung flat.

The surface and wrinkled patina of the piece raise questions of

survival,

life, and death.

— F.R. Rivera

Wendell Brooks, Michael Gyampo, and Michael Gyampo Jr.,

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park, 609-989-3632.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.,

to February 23. Free.

Gallery Talk, Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum,

Cadwalader

Park, 609-989-3632. Lecture and slide presentation by Wendell Brooks

in conjunction with the three-man show. Free. Saturday, February

1, 1 p.m.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Anne Reid Art Gallery, Princeton Day School, Great Road,

609-924-6700. "Water," the work of Princeton photographer

Susan Hockaday. The large abstract, hand-printed color photographs

feature subject matter from the landscape in Nova Scotia, where she

lives in the summer. She photographs drawings under water in tidal

pools to produce meticulously printed photographs that become a

lyrical

pattern of shimmering light. Open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To

February

21.

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street,

609-924-8777.

"11 Septembre et Autres Jours" by French artist Thibaud

Thiercelin.

Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends by appointment.

To January 31.

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

Last, Memory Yields," an exhibition of photography and mixed-media

works by artist and architect Christopher Becker. Open by appointment

during school hours. To February 7.

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.

Top Of Page
Area Museums

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." 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;"

"The Sisler Collection of North American Mammals;"

"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.

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Campus Arts

Princeton University Art Museum, 609-258-3788.

"Selected

Photographs from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection" (extended)

through

February 3. "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," a photography show

by French photographer Vincent Fougere that depicts how Africa cares

for and treats its mentally ill. After a childhood spent in the Ivory

Coast, Fougere spent eight years traveling across Africa to photograph

its bruised souls. Opening reception is Friday, February 7. Gallery

hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 21.

College of New Jersey, Art Gallery, Holman Hall, Ewing,

609-771-2198. The juried National Printmaking Exhibition. Gallery

hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; Thursday 7 to 9 p.m.;

and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m. To February 1

Mason Gross Galleries, Civic Square Building, 33

Livingston

Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-932-2222, ext. 838. "Personal

Perspectives,"

an exhibition of works created at the Rutgers Center for Innovative

Print and Paper (RCIPP) in the past year; works by Jim Lavadour,

Chakaia

Booker, and Willie Cole. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4

p.m. To February 6.

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:

"Russian

Cover Design, 1920s to 1930s: The Graphic Face of the

Post-Revolutionary

and Stalinist Periods"; to March 30. "Sergei Paradjanov Off

Camera: Collages, Assemblages, and Objects," to March 16. Open

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

noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight 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.

"Something Old, Something New," an exhibition of bronze

sculpture

by Doug DeGaetano. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to

4 p.m. To February 6.

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. In the Domestic Arts Building

"Focus

on Sculpture 2003," an annual juried exhibition of photographs

by amateur photographers. Juror is Hope R. Proper of the Perkins

Center

for the Arts. On view 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.

The Urban Word, 449 South Broad, Trenton, 609-989-7777.

Solo show by pop artist Karey Maurice and his exhibit of art from

the 1980s, including works on paper and canvas. To January 31.

Area Galleries

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

Shared show features "Along China’s Silk Road" by David H.

Miller, and "October in Provence" by Ingeborg Snipes. Gallery

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

To February 9.

Hopewell Frame Shop, 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell,

609-466-0817.

Wildlife and nature photographs by Andrew Chen, a veteran nature

photographer

whose work has been published in "North American Birds." On

view to February 23. Free.

The Magic Moon Cafe & Junktiques, 9 North Main Street,

Pennington, 609-730-1010. Princeton artist Sergio Bonotto exhibits

recent pen and ink and watercolor prints of scenes in Princeton,

Hopewell,

and Montgomery. Open Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;

Thursday

5:30 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. To January

31.

Top Of Page
Art by the River

Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville,

609-397-4588.

Co-op gallery begins the new year with a show of small works of art

by all members. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and other

gift items are featured. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and

Sunday,

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To February 2.

Artsbridge Gallery, Canal Studios, 243 North Union Street,

Lambertville, 609-773-0881. Monthly group show features celebrity

portraits by James Lucas. Open Thursday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.,

to January 31.

Belle’s Tavern, 183 North Union Street, Lambertville,

609-397-2226. "Simple Pleasures," a solo exhibition of

etchings,

engravings, watercolor illustrations, pen and ink and tile by Carol

Chernack. "After working overseas in the Philippines, Japan, and

Europe, crossing Siberia on a train, scuba diving in Micronesia,

struggling

to climb Mount Fuji along with old ladies in kimonos, getting locked

inside a department store in Finland, and enjoying a photo safari

in Africa, Carol Chernack is happily working on her art and writing

in New Jersey." Dinner served Monday through Thursday from 6 to

9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to 10 p.m. Open Sundays, 5 to 9 p.m.

To February 22.

Gratz Gallery, 30 West Bridge Street, New Hope,

215-862-4300.

Exhibition of new oils by Jan Lipes of Solebury. Gallery hours are

Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. To

February 9.

The Peggy Lewis Gallery, Lambertville Public Library,

6 Lilly Street, 609-397-0275. Show celebrates the re-naming of the

former ABC Gallery. "Works by Michael and Peggy Lewis: From the

1940s to the 1980s" features paintings and drawings by 84-year-old

Peggy Lewis and the late Michael Lewis who died in 1990. The gallery

was created by Peggy Lewis and Barry Snyder after Michael Lewis’s

death. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Friday 1

to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To February 7.


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