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Prepared for the September 5, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
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Backstage at Mercer Gallery
To produce a gallery’s one-page overview of six art
exhibitions over the course of an academic year is not a difficult
task. It’s the behind-the-scenes eye, arm, voice, and leg work —
not to mention brain and heart work, and the never ending
— that takes the time and makes the difference. And makes that
single sheet possible.
As she begins her second year as director and curator of the Gallery
at Mercer County Community College, Tricia Fagan also kicks off the
first season she has curated. Last year’s shows had already been
when she moved in to the gallery position. That gave her time to learn
the place and its systems for getting things done — and to line
up this year’s exhibits.
Fagan, who brought a breadth of arts experience to the college, has
put together a season that ranges from provocative narrative paintings
and computer art to sculpture, abstract paintings, prints and handmade
paper. In the spring, the gallery hosts two regular events, first
the "Mercer County Artists 2001," and then "Visual Arts
Student Show 2001."
Opening the season is "Narrative Stance," a shared show by
painters Loring Hughes and Thomas Kelly that continues through
28. A reception is scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, from 5 to
7:30 p.m., followed by a gallery talk on Wednesday, September 20,
at 7 p.m. This pattern holds true for each of the four exhibitions
of Fagan’s main season.
Loring Hughes’ paintings, which look at first like scary drawings
with spots of high color, bear close study. They’re macabre, yet often
funny; sometimes dream-inspired, and yet grounded in real life, and
death. "King Mummy" has got to be Elvis. "Serial Killer
Beauty Contest" — itself a bizarre notion — features a
line of murderers whose "styles" differ, while a man wearing
a distinctive tam-o’-shanter is among the spectators. "Preacher
Killing Snakes in My Backyard," reportedly straight from the
dream world, shows a man with a hatchet and any number of snakes
in electric green grass. Elements of another painting include a black
dog, or wolf, streaming blood from its mouth, at the bottom right;
disembodied green gums with long, pointy teeth, above that; and a
central figure of a man with arms and legs out flung.
Hughes calls her work "visual drama in two dimensions," and
cites Grand Guignol, the French theater of shock and terror, as her
chief influence. Her images are purposefully flat, without
and the newer ones are literally illuminated by touches of neon color.
She believes that her art allows her to channel the impulsivity that
was caused by a neurological disability sustained some years ago into
spontaneous, immediate work. She says her disability has brought
into her life but liberation into her art. Fagan regards Hughes,
from River Vale, New Jersey, and now a Lawrenceville resident, as
a bone fide "outsider artist."
One-line ideas in a notebook are the basis of Thomas Kelly’s
Lacking his notebook and ignoring titles, viewers might enjoy coming
up with the story is behind each scene. For instance, the man with
a book in one hand, a bottle in the other. Behind him (and the book):
a few figures that look like family; behind him on the bottle side,
a bar scene with a woman sitting on a stool. Is this a morality tale?
In another picture, a woman sits on a chair in the middle of a
rag rug, while a man stands next to her, holding up a pendant of some
kind on a chain. Is she getting very sleepy? Is she in his power?
In a party scene, two women occupy two green couches, with a man
behind each one. But, look, is the man behind one woman eyeing the
other one? Is this "some enchanted evening" painted small?
Kelly, a Mercer graduate and Trenton resident, outlines
his figures that are usually found indoors. In one comparatively large
landscape with a surprising sky and three parallel-tilted bare trees,
a woman stands with two large dogs — one on a leash, the other
one free. Facing them, a man thrusts his arms out as if to fend off
the dogs, and a child seems to hide behind him. Despite the tranquil
look of the day, complete with a sailboat in the background, there
are "very uneasy dynamics," as Fagan puts it. At first,
work looks like simple narrative, but there are undercurrents.
Drawing on her own extensive network to build the season’s schedule,
Fagan was determined to uphold the college’s strong reputation for
art, both on the faculty and among graduates, and assure that the
great number of regional artists were well represented. Further,
the gallery serves as a teaching facility, she hoped to make the point
that "art is relevant for everybody," and often springs from
other than fine-art areas. Reviewing artists’ slides and resumes is
a regular part of her work load, as is visiting their studios to see
a body of work and, sometimes, to make preliminary choices for an
An exhibition showcasing work by the college’s art professors might
be expected, but Fagan has added a new twist to the concept: including
the work of "guest artists" who work in the same medium as
those featured. "Crossing Over" (October 10-November 2), the
gallery’s second exhibition, will illustrate this approach: faculty
members Anne Bobo and Yevgeniy Fiks will show art involving the
supplemented by the work of two invited artists. The computer is a
valid tool in creation of fine art, Fagan says.
"Absolute Music" (November 14-December 21) will pair
mixed media" work by Jordan Isip, a Brooklyn-based illustrator
whose work has appeared in the Village Voice and the New York Times,
and on CD covers, with sculpture by Czech artist Helena Lukasova,
an apprentice at the Johnson Atelier. Fagan says she "taps into
legends and world mythology remarkably well."
For "Inclusions," the gallery’s first exhibition of 2001
16-February 15), Fagan has booked Margaret K. Johnson, Princeton
and handmade paper artist, and abstract painter Pat Martin, of New
Hope. "They share this incredible elegance in their work,"
Fagan says of the two, although for one, "more is more," while
for the other, "less is more." The juried group show,
County Artists 2001," opens March 6 and runs until April 5, and
the "Visual Arts Student Show 2001" will be on view April 24-May
With that, it’s the end of another season in the gallery — though
not the end of Fagan’s efforts. As it has this year, summer allows
for clean up, fix up, paint up — not to mention mailing list
and updates, studio visits, season planning and fine-tuning. And as
happened earlier this month, summer’s end means mailing postcards
to herald the first exhibit of the new season. Between other gallery
chores, Fagan sandwiches in time to affix hundreds, make that
of mailing labels. She views this unglamourous but crucial task
as part — a big part, and one that won’t go away — of arts
Before moving to Mercer’s gallery, Fagan served for two years as
director at Artworks, the visual arts school of Trenton and Princeton,
and wrote freelance articles about the arts, including some for U.S.
1. Her affiliation with the New Jersey State Arts Council included
editing that organization’s newsletter. An occasional poet and jazz
singer, and a charter member of Trenton Avant-Garde (TAG), she
the spoken word stage at annual TAG fests, and she has produced
history month art shows in Trenton venues.
Mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 13: Another opening,
— Pat Summers
on the campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road, 609-586-4800, ext. 3589. Open
Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursday evening
from 6 to 8. The reception for "Narrative Stance" is
September 13, 5 to 7:30 p.m.; and the gallery talk is Wednesday,
20, at 7 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.
An exhibition by Pennington artist Livy Glaubitz featuring watercolor
and pen-and-ink drawings, "Foreign Travels." A member of the
Garden State Watercolor Society, Glaubitz has shown throughout the
area. She is a third-grade teacher at Slackwood Elementary in
Artist’s reception will be Friday, September 29, at 7 p.m., for the
show that runs to October 1.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "Old Traditions, New Beginnings,"
a major exhibition celebrating 250 years of Princeton Jewish history,
jointly presented and exhibited at the Jewish Center of Princeton.
This is the first-ever exhibit on the history of Princeton’s Jewish
community, coinciding with the Jewish Center’s 50th anniversary.
addressed include early arrivals, family life, social organizations,
work and business pursuits, religious traditions, and anti-Semitism.
Dining room exhibit of watercolors by Princeton artist Elizabeth
president of the Garden State Watercolor Society and trustee of the
Montgomery Cultural Center. Titled "Sojourn," she painted
the series of works last year on a journey through France’s Provence
region. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to September 14.
gallery this month. Sciarra’s whimsical and cozy "homescapes"
(U.S. 1, April 14, 1999), are on view at the Frank J. Miele Gallery,
1086 Madison Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, from September 6
October 1 (212-249-7250). Her work has been shown at the Stuart
Day School, Princeton, and Birds of a Feather, Kingston, as well as
the New Jersey State Museum Cafe. An artist’s reception is scheduled
at the gallery for Saturday, September 23, from 1 to 5 p.m.
through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours
of the collection are every Saturday at 2 p.m.
The permanent collection features a strong representation of Western
European paintings, old master prints, and original photographs.
of Chinese, Pre-Columbian Mayan, and African art are considered among
the museum’s most impressive. Not housed in the museum but part of
the collection is the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of
outdoor sculpture, with works by such modern masters as Henry Moore,
Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and George Segal located throughout
"A Century for the Millennium: 100 Treasures from the Collections
of the Princeton University Library," on view in the main
gallery to November 5.
609-620-6026. "Past and Place," an exhibition of photographs
by Worth Stokes. Opening reception is Friday, September 15, from 7
to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; except Wednesday
and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. To September 29.
609-397-0275. "The Fruits of My Labor," an exhibition of oil
paintings and pastels by Fern Blumberg. Gallery hours are Monday &
Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday & Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday
1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To September 29.
215-794-0970. The seventh Annual Members Exhibition features paintings
and sculpture by area artists, with prizes and awards. Gallery hours
are Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to
5 p.m., for the show that runs to September 27.
609-397-2226. Joan Elliot’s large format still-life watercolors and
a series of 10 miniature prints, "The Giclee Bouquet," are
on view. Gem-like colors, intricate patterns, fruits, and flowers
fill Elliott’s images with joyful expression. The miniature ink-jet
prints on watercolor paper retain the detail and intensity of
at reproduction prices. Her work has been exhibited in the Berkshires,
Key West, Fairfield County, and New York. To September 30.
609-397-0804. The gallery celebrates its 20th annual Summer Exhibition
featuring gallery artists Augustine, Baumgartner, Bross, Ceglia,
Ermentrout, Farnham, Lennox, Chesar, Miller, Rinninger, Ross, Sakson,
Scott, Silvia, Van Hook, Von Betzen, Dellenbaugh, Douris, Tsubota,
and Watts. Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To September 30.
609-397-4590. Photographs by New Jersey multi-media artist Victor
Macarol whose work has been shown at the New Jersey State Museum,
Galerie Fink in Paris, and Galerie Mesmer in Basel, Switzerland. Open
Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To September 21.
"Expressions in Clay," a shared show of ceramic sculpture
by Ivan Bratko and JoAnn Stratakos. Bratko won first place in the
annual New Hope Arts Commission Juried show with his work,
of a Potter," earlier this year. To September 30.
Line Road, 609-252-6275. "Fragile Dependencies," a group
that takes a close look at delicate relationships in nature. Featured
artists are Joan Roth and Madelaine Shellaby of Princeton, Susan
of West Windsor, Simon Gaon, Lori Van Houten, Karon Moss, Michael
Zansky, and the late Rachel bas-Cohain. Gallery hours are Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. To
732-524-3698. An exhibition of bold drawings in colored marker by
Echo McCallister that mirrors the artist’s intense and complex life
experiences as a person with autism. Having spent a great portion
of his life in mental institutions, McCallister has earned a national
reputation as an emerging "Outsider Artist." His work is in
the collection of the National Art Exhibitions by the Mentally Ill.
Free by appointment to September 14.
609-895-7307. "Shapes, Scenes, and Such," a display of artwork
by staff and family members of Stark & Stark. Also watercolors by
Trenton painter Marguerite Doernbach. Show is curated by Gary Snyder
Fine Art. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To September 9.
"TAWA 2000," the annual members show juried show of the
Artists’ Workshop Association, selected by Kristen Accola, exhibition
director of the Hunterdon Museum of Art. Show features 50 works by
30 artists. Best in Show award goes to Bruce Rigby for "Wall
X." Also Juror’s Choice awards to Zenna Broomer and Arlene
honorable mention to David Lee Adams, Yevgeniy Fiks, Hetal Mistry,
and Dan Zimmerman. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Sunday 2 to 4 p.m., the show features artists’ talks every Sunday
at 2:30 p.m. To September 24.
"Of One Who Listens to the Stone," a group exhibition of stone
sculptures created by the staff and apprentices of the Johnson Atelier
Technical Institute. Opening reception is Saturday, September 9, from
4 to 6 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
for the show that continues to October 5.
609-586-0616. Summer Exhibition, to September 10. In the Museum and
Domestic Arts Building, "Washington Sculptors Group," a juried
exhibition of 60 recent sculptures. On the Grounds, "Dana
imaginative,mythical beasts in bronze from the New Jersey artist.
New Outdoors, sculptures by Red Grooms, G. Frederick Morante, Kenneth
Payne, and Larry Young.
Grounds for Sculpture recently evolved into a public charitable
the Public Art Foundation Inc., and is now supported by visitors’
admission fees, memberships, patrons, and foundations. The park and
galleries of the Domestic Arts Building are open Tuesday through
from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; the Museum building is open from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public tours are offered Saturday mornings at 11
a.m. Adult admission is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday and
Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Annual membership $55 individual; $45 for
seniors & students.
609-292-6464. "The Leah Phyfer Sloshberg Collection of Fine
to September 3. "The Art of Jack Delano," to September 24.
On extended view: "New Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and
"Delaware Indians of New Jersey;" "Of Rock and Fire;"
"Washington Crossing the Delaware;" "New Jersey and the
Great Ice Age;" "Dinosaur Turnpike;" "A Convocation
of Eagles;" and "Amber: the Legendary Resin." Museum
Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
609-695-0061. First day for a month-long exhibition featuring
and decorative art spanning three centuries. Gallery hours are
to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., for the show
that runs to September 30.
609-298-6970. Pastel works by Dressler Smith and portraiture by Nancy
Goodstein. Also represented, ceramics by the late James Colavita.
Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m., and by
Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "Then and Now: Recent Museum Acquisitions
of Art and Folk Art." To September 17. Donation $5. Museum hours
are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
732-257-4340. The contemporary sculpture gallery’s "New Artists,
New Ideas, New Season" show, featuring work by more than 100
in natural outdoor installations. Featured artists include Sarah
Charles Welles, and Liz Whitney Quisgard. Gallery hours are Friday
to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.
215-340-9800. "John Goodyear: Thinking into Form, Works
a 50-year retrospective by the Lambertville-based conceptual artist,
curated by Henry Hose. Both painter and installation artist, Goodyear
taught at Rutgers from 1964 to 1997. The show highlights each period
of Goodyear’s career, and includes paintings, kinetic works, and
works from the "Heat Sculpture" series, "Death of
and "Earth Curve." To September 17.
Also an installation by Yardley sculptor Elizabeth Miller McCue
a life-size sculpture inspired by Monet’s famous "Haystacks"
series; to October 22. Also, "Sublime Servers: A Celebration of
Theatrical Possibilities at the Table," a cornucopia of expressive
ceramic sculpture and vessels by 30 artists, organized by the
Clayworks and curated by Gail M. Brown; to September 3.
Museum hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday &
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5 adults; $1.50 students; children free. Website:
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