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This article by Nicole Plett published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

November 3, 1999. All rights reserved.

From a One-Man Jury, an Annual Show

Malcolm Bray, proprietor of the Old English Pine

antitique

store in Lambertville, earns his livelihood selling imported antique

pine furniture from England. But in recent years, he has taken

advantage

of his shop’s spacious, upstairs loft to put together an eclectic

group art exhibition celebrating the work of the region’s artists.

An English import himself, born and raised in the old industrial city

of Hull, Bray has been in business for 14 years, selling antiques

out of an attractive Victorian brick building on the corner of North

Union and Elm. The building, known as the Spoke Works, dates from

1881 and was originally used for building wheels and spokes for

carriages.

"Safety in Numbers," opening Sunday, November 7, with a 3

to 8 p.m. reception, is Bray’s fifth annual show of innovative

painting

and sculpture. It features works by Myles Cavanaugh, Annelies van

Dommelen, Gareth Evans, Chad Cortez Everett, Diane Levell, Virgil

Sova, Alan Taback, Stacie Speer-Scott, Ron Wyffels, and Bray.

With more than 300 visitors expected to show up for the opening of

the annual show, Bray says the event just developed from something

casual to a professional effort.

"The original show was by friends and artists I knew in the

immediate

area," he says, noting that the quality of both the exhibition

and its presentation has steadily evolved over five years. This year’s

show will comprise about 80 wall pieces and a dozen sculptures.

"The focus is contemporary art, quite subjective, not juried,

and no awards," says Bray. "Basically it’s my own idea of

what an art show should be about and that’s reflected in the work.

We’re not a commercial gallery ready to take chunks of money off

artists.

And since my overhead is supported by the business, I can afford to

put on a show that’s a little bit risque."

Among the artists represented for the first time is Diane Levell,

with a series of 10 recent works that revolve around the figure. A

photographer, Levell has manipulated her prints with gum bichromate

and cyanotype to create a more abstract statement.

Other figurative works and work from life are represented in the

formidable

nudes by Jacques Fabert and portraits by Bonnie Maclean, all of

healthy

scale that is comfortably accommodated in the big space. Alan Taback

will show a series of recent pieces that favor a loose, expressive

quality, some on a large scale, while Stacie Speer-Scott creates in

a similar vein via mixed media.

Bray says he uses a variety of means to find and invite artists to

participate in the annual show. "I go out scouting, I use word

of mouth, and some artists approach me." He says Philadelphia’s

First Friday series, the monthly event when city galleries stay open,

has been helpful. Philadelphia painters Chad Cortez Everett, Gareth

Evans, Ron Wyffels, and sculptor Mei-Ling Hom all contribute "an

urban diversion" to this year’s show.

Bray, who somehow finds time to run his business, the annual group

show, and to paint, describes himself as an artist without formal

training. "I began life in an Impressionist vein, but now my work

is going in an expressionist direction," he says, acknowledging

Pop influences of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

"Safety in Numbers" is open seven days a week, through

December

31, making it readily accessible to locals and visitors. However Bray

doesn’t count on a crossover audience. "The furniture people come

looking for furniture," he says, "and the art people come

looking for art.

— Nicole Plett

Safety in Numbers , Old English Pine, 202 North Union

Street, Lambertville, 609-397-4978. Opening reception. Open every

day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to December 31. Website:

www.oldenglishpine.com.

Free. Sunday, November 7, 3 to 8 p.m.


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