Grounds for Sculpture

Beverly Pepper’s Bio

Art in Town

Art On Campus

Art in the Workplace

Art In Trenton

To the North

Art by the River

Other Museums

Other Galleries

Corrections or additions?

This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

October 13, 1999. All rights reserved.

From Tiny Tree Stumps: Beverly Pepper

Usually a serenely quiet place, Grounds for Sculpture

was transformed last week into a major construction site during installation

of the works of Beverly Pepper, whose solo exhibition opens on Saturday,

October 16. Spiking the rolling green hills and dwarfing both the

big museum buildings and the largest piece of sculpture, a 50-ton

crane rose toward the sky, foreshadowing in a way Pepper’s works that

do much the same. A second crane, three 10-ton forklifts, vans, trucks,

and numerous workers completed the temporary transformation.

Nearby, men unloaded a gigantic container shipped from Paris with

works from Pepper’s recent show at the Palais Royal. Another wielded

a power-hose on long, rusty, cast-iron columns lying on the ground,

to rid them of months of bird droppings. A few men dug a deep rectangular

hole — the beginning of a base for one of Pepper’s stone sculptures

to be positioned outside the Domestic Arts building. At the edge of

the parking lot, a man pried crates open to free more sculptures.

Inside the Museum and Domestic Arts buildings were still more men

at work: building stages for models, marking the floor where one or

another monumental piece will go, painting, hanging, uncrating. Still

more men . . . and one woman. Dressed in layers of black sweaters

and pants, a khaki-colored vest of many pockets, and well-worn sneakers,

artist Beverly Pepper moves from one part of the operation to another.

Here, she encourages an assistant, painting continuity landscape on

the wall behind a model-platform. Borrowing his long, brush-tipped

pole, she demonstrates how to achieve the desired effect. There she

talks with a few workmen about the angle for positioning four flat

wooden dollies that will support sculptures without blocking one of

her preliminary drawings for the work that hangs nearby. Then, she

converses in Italian with another assistant.

Outside, she checks on whether the base of one piece meets her specifications,

chats with the man power-washing the iron pillars, marvels at the

great job done by the Parisian container-packers, and throws a question

to a passing worker who replies, "No problem." Pepper rolls

her eyes and says, "`No problem’ — I worry when I hear that.

I’m sure that’s what Judas said to Christ: `I’ll think about it. No

problem.’"

Periodically, Pepper runs a hand through her shoulder-length brownish

hair, pushing it back from her forehead. The 74-year-old artist stands

less than five-and-a-half feet tall. Her voice is low, her smile dazzling.

American-born and a long-time resident of Italy as well as New York,

Pepper has a chic, continental look. And a highly competent yet non-abrasive

manner.

Beverly Pepper: internationally known sculptor and creator of site-specific

earthworks — and, originally and still, a painter. Perhaps best

known for her soaring vertical sculptures in cast-iron (an artistic

medium she pioneered), steel, and stone, variously called columns,

totems, markers, obelisks, sentinels. An artist who has often worked

at foundries and industrial sites to learn the properties of her materials,

and how to work them, and who operates machines and tools "as

if she invented them for her own use," which is also how she recommends

others treat them.

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Grounds for Sculpture

Some 50 of Pepper’s works will be on view at Grounds for Sculpture,

beginning October 16 and running through April 16, in what director

and curator Brooke Barrie describes as a major sampling from key phases

of Pepper’s career, although not a retrospective. With two outdoor

works already in the Grounds’ collection, the exhibit of additional

outdoor and indoor sculptures will be supplemented by artist’s drawings,

models, and photographs of works in situ "to give the viewer an

idea of the steps behind an outdoor work," Barrie says. She points

out that Pepper has also created work on the spot, like plaster textures

on walls to illustrate surface qualities and further enrich the educational

value of displays in the Domestic Arts building.

Born in Brooklyn, Pepper, who had always drawn, studied advertising,

photography, and industrial design at Pratt Institute — the latter

discipline for the briefest time, because she was thrown out of the

program after about a month. It was feared that as the only girl enrolled,

she would have trouble handling the equipment. Even so, she says,

"everything I know about sculpture I learned from that class —

clay, plaster, drawing in three dimensions . . ." She continues

to respect power tools like rotary and jig-saws, as well as the array

of big tools required to create her large works. "I’m always afraid

when I get near big machinery, but I think that’s also part of the

process — you can’t live with fear."

Some of her adaptability to machines and making things work had to

come from her mother, the one in Pepper’s family of five — counting

an older brother and sister — who handled the household repairs.

Both first-generation Americans, her parents had a traditional marriage

in some ways, but not all. Though never employed, her mother was a

political, social, and health activist, as was her grandmother. Pepper

believes she’s also a product of World War II, when women were pressed

into the work force. "Most of them went back to the house afterwards

— I didn’t." She never felt unable to do something, or hampered

by being a woman — which may be why Betty Friedan has cited Pepper

as one of two reasons she wrote her landmark feminist book, "The

Feminine Mystique."

"I think it was because she had problems selling an article on

me as someone who could do everything," Pepper says. An example:

"To support myself, I wouldn’t be an assistant to anyone. So I

wrote a cookbook, which to my great good fortune became a bestseller."

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Beverly Pepper’s Bio

In the 1940s, she worked as an art director, studied

painting in Paris, and married her husband of almost 50 years now,

Curtis Gordon (Bill) Pepper, a foreign correspondent. Their two children,

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham and painter-writer John Pepper,

were born in the ’50s. From a family in which she was the only artist,

Pepper grew a family of all artists, who, she says, "understand

the need for freedom" And yet, "We’re in each other’s pockets,

we’re interested in what the others do, and their work is an extension

of our own. We’re a very fortunate family."

Good fortune, luck, and even accidents are integral parts of Pepper’s

life, especially in the story of how she became a sculptor at around

age 40. "I had always been interested in three dimensions. My

paintings began to look more and more dimensional. And then this thing

with luck happened, and luck is very important in life."

First, her family had moved into a new house with the trunks of 36

chestnut trees on the property. Then, during a trip around the world

with her daughter, they visited Angkor Wat, Cambodia, where art that

had been hidden for centuries before being rediscovered in the 19th

century could be seen. "We saw all these amazing carved heads,

two, three, five stories high. People could fly in and out in a day,

but I stayed there for two weeks. I realized that that dimension really

had a sense of time, a sense of survival.

"When I got back to my new house, the stumps were there. It was

sort of an invitation that one couldn’t say `No’ to. I certainly wasn’t

a carver; I just picked up the machinery I needed and invented the

process." In 1962, Pepper had her first sculpture exhibition in

the United States.

During that decade, she made highly polished stainless steel pieces.

(Some are included in the current show.) In the early ’70s, along

with a move to Todi, Italy, she produced her first large environmental

project in Dallas, and then moved on to "Amphisculpture,"

an expansive outdoor amphitheater that seats 1,000 for AT&T’s corporate

offices in Bedminster, New Jersey, completed in 1979.

In the late ’70s, Pepper also began to create small-scale forged and

cast-iron "totemic" sculptures, and by 1980, she had produced

the first of the "Markers," described as "primordial cast-iron

columns." Pepper practically rhapsodizes about iron as a medium

— as something historical and permanent and virtually indestructible.

She developed ways to work ductile, or malleable, iron, and in 1982

installed three ductile iron markers, each 26 by 45 feet, in Trenton’s

Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, which was still being finished.

(Note: She has not seen this work — her second major commission

in New Jersey — since then. Curious about how it has meshed with

the completed building, she planned to visit and photograph it last

week.)

"I do open-ended work," Pepper says. "I start, and when

it’s finished, I see it. It’s not that I know how it’s going to be

finished. I don’t find it satisfying to have the answer before starting,

and if you’re any good, the answer should be a question. When I start

working on something and there’s an accident, I follow the accident."

She relates the story of Velcro, the now-ubiquitous fastener, and

how it was discovered, accidentally, by a Swiss named Velcro. "I

let the stone suggest what I have to do," she says, with one of

a few references to Michelangelo and his approach. "I try to make

my work belong to time, particularly with stone. The stone has its

own age already when you start."

Starting in the mid-’80s, Pepper’s columns grew taller,

slimmer. She exhibited her wall reliefs, produced more site-specific

environmental projects, moved into block-like forms, and had her first

show of paintings in nearly 30 years. One element of her work is regularly

cited: its texture. "Gestural," one writer called it; another

tied it to her origins as a painter. Pepper herself refers to "a

lot of handwork," whether in wood, plaster, metal, or stone. The

photos show marks by her hand, or her hand tools. She says she likes

"the movement, the activity of creating textured surfaces,"

gaining a lot of physical satisfaction from it. Only partly joking,

she refers to the "horrible sedentary life" of her family

of writers.

As for the wide variety of her work and the plethora of projects underway

at any given time, Pepper muses, "Monolithic. That’s the word

for how it used to be. After Warhol, artists could do as many different

things as they wanted. Noguchi designed lamps! It’s about creativity"

not specialties.

"The real luck," she continues, "is to reach my age and

still be creative. The hedge against on-rushing old age is to keep

inventing and doing things and trying to be creative. And if you’re

lucky, you have this. I believe you have to push your luck, you have

to believe in yourself." Semi-seriously, she mentions a friend

who keeps learning new words, while Pepper tests herself by learning

every new phone number she can. And, besides an artistic workday that

runs 8 to 4 or 4:30, she draws ("keeps the mind alive") and

reads all the time — poetry, biography, books she has enjoyed

before. And when she goes home to Italy, she will return to a new

house she designed around her studio.

Pepper’s worldliness and wide experience don’t lend themselves to

rudimentary questions about influential and admired artists. "It’s

hard to say who touches me now. I live in the land of Michelangelo

and Donatello. I live with great art, art that has survived time.

The other thing is how one’s taste changes. I just love Bernini at

this moment, and I just loathed Bernini 25 years ago." Pointing

to her extensive travels, Pepper adds, "I also see the great 20th-century

art. I think Picasso was probably one of the greatest sculptors of

the century, while Matisse didn’t make too many mistakes in painting!"

Pepper looks forward to collaborating on an art project with her poet-daughter

as well as continuing to do her work, and growing at it. Again, she

cites Matisse, who said if he lived long enough, he might learn to

draw. Pepper: "Perhaps I’ll get to do the one sculpture I’ve been

waiting to do all my life."

— Pat Summers

Beverly Pepper, Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds

Road, Hamilton, 609-586-0616. First day for the Fall-Winter Exhibition

and the one-person Beverly Pepper show in the Museum and Domestic

Arts Building. On the mezzanine, a juried photography group show,

"Focus on Sculpture." Shows continues to April 16. Free. Saturday,

October 16, 10 a.m.

Public hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4

p.m. Web site: http://www.groundsforsculpture.org.

Beverly Pepper Lecture, and slide presentation by Dale

Lanzone, director of Marlborough Chelsea, New York, in conjunction

with the Beverly Pepper exhibition. Free with reservation. Saturday,

November 6, 7:30 p.m.

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Art in Town

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street, 609-497-7330.

"Two Views of Truth," a two-man exhibition of photographs

by Ricardo Barros and sculpture by Vladimir Kanevsky. Gallery hours

are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To October 17.

Doral Forrestal, 100 College Road East, 609-452-7800.

"Water Works," an exhibition of watercolors by Gail Bracegirdle.

To November 1.

DeLann Gallery, Princeton Meadows Shopping Center, Plainsboro,

609-799-6706. Group show featuring oils by David Thurlow, Inga Steinberg,

Marina Kalinovsky, and Apo Totosyan; sculptures by Amedeo Ferri; and

the works of Sydney Neuwirth. To November 6. Gallery hours are Tuesday

to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.

to 6 p.m.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-4377.

Jon Roemer, "Photographs on the Periphery of Manhattan." The

work is part of an ongoing series by the fine art and commercial photographer

that explores the built environment in this most densely populated

area of the country. To November 1.

Pringle International Art, 8 Chambers Street, 609-921-9292.

"A Change of Seasons," an exhibition of recent work by European

artists Joe McIntyre, Simon Palmer, and Gabriel Schmitz. Gallery hours

are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To October 16.

Williams Gallery, 8 Chambers Street, 609-921-1142. "A

Far Eastern Perspective," a group show of lithographs by Susumu

Endo of Japan, woodblock prints by Yoshikatsu Tamekane of Japan, and

digital paintings by Cyprian Li of China. To October 16. Gallery hours

are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Art On Campus

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

Lear’s Greece," an exhibition of watercolors, sketchings, and

letters from the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical

Studies in Athens, Greece. Also "The Trappings of Gentility: 19th-Century

British Art at Princeton." Both shows to January 2. "What

Photographs Look Like," from the permanent collection. to October

24. The museum is open Tuesday 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.

Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, 609-895-5588.

"Beauty Queens," an exhibition by Carson Fox. The mixed-media

show is composed of rusted dresses made of paper, headpieces and tiaras

of wire, beads, and pins, and funeral wreaths. To October 24. Gallery

hours are Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 2 to

5 p.m.

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Art in the Workplace

Capital Health System, Mercer Campus, 446 Bellevue Avenue,

Trenton, 609-394-4095. Physicians’ exhibition features works by CHS

physicians Anthony Chiurco, Joseph Eberhart, Leon Fraser, Jay Goodkind,

Robert Gould, Alfred Monkowski, Horace Shaffer, Iradj Sharim, Richard

Siderits, Joseph Wood, and Lee Yazujian. Lobby gallery is always open.

Show runs to November 12.

Educational Testing Service, Carter and Rosedale roads,

609-921-9000. In the Conant Gallery Lounge B: Randolph Husava, oil

paintings, to October 20.

Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters Gallery, New Brunswick,

732-524-3698. In the New Jersey Artist Series, "Portraits"

by Nicole Maynard-Sahar, an exhibition of expressionistic portraiture.

Free by appointment.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building 2, Lawrenceville,

609-896-9060. "Departures," an exhibition by the Art Group,

featuring Princeton area artists Liz Adams, Nadine Berkowsky, Eva

Kaplan, Edith Kogan, Judith Koppel, Stephanie Mandelbaum, Helen Post,

and Gloria Wiernik, and curated by Gary Snyder of Snyder Fine Art.

To November 12. Exhibit is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Summit Bancorp Gallery, 301 Carnegie Center at Route 1,

609-987-3200. "The American Indian Artists’ Exhibition," a

group show that continues to November 29. Exhibition is open daily,

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.

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Art In Trenton

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

"Ten x Ten," a group show of women’s book arts organized by

the Printmaking Council of New Jersey. Also showing: "The D&R

Canal and Trenton: A Visual History." To October 24. Museum hours

are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.

Extension Gallery, 60 Ward Avenue, Mercerville, 609-890-7777.

Recent work by Helena Lukasova. A native of the Czech Republic, she

will show bronze and iron sculpture combined with nontraditional materials.

To November 4. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4

p.m.

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To the North

Mabel Smith Douglass Library, Rutgers University, 732-932-9407.

In the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series, "Stroke-Mark-Motion,"

an exhibition by feminist performance and conceptual artist and filmmaker

Carolee Schneemann. To November 13.

Museum of the American Hungarian Foundation, 300 Somerset

Street, New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "The Hungarian Spark in America,"

an exhibit highlighting Hungarian contributions to the arts, sciences,

humanities, commerce, religious and civic life in America. To January

31. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday,

1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11

a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New

Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "A Sense of Wonder: African Art from

the Faletti Family Collection." Show features 80 works, dating

from the 15th to early 20th century, presenting an overview of the

variety of style and sensibility in African art. To November 24. Museum

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

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

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Art by the River

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-0804.

Annual Fall Exhibition features paintings by Albert L. Bross Jr.,

watercolors by Harriet Ermentrout, and pastels by Mike Filipiak. To

November 14. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nagy Gallery, 20 South Main Street, New Hope, 215-862-8242.

One-person exhibition of painting and sculpture by Doylestown artist

Sandra Eliot continues to October 28.

Riverrun Gallery, 287 South Main Street, Lambertville,

609-397-3349. On exhibit, Stephen Hall’s "Meanings and Metaphors,"

and Susan Zoon’s "Contents Under Pressure." Both shows run

to October 31. Gallery is open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except

Tuesday.

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Other Museums

Burlington County Historical Society, 454 Lawrence Street,

Burlington, 609-386-4773. "Wildfowl Decoy Exhibit" by master

Burlington carver Jess Heisler (1891-1943), whose best work ranks

among the finest of the Delaware River school of carving, and works

by his friend and pupil John Marinkos (1915-1999). To January 9. Hours

are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.

Mercer Museum, Pine and Ashland Streets, Doylestown, Pennsylvania,

215-345-0210. "Edward Hicks Country," a companion to the Philadelphia

Museum of Art comprehensive exhibit on Edward Hicks, an exhibit on

the professional and spiritual environment in which the lifelong Bucks

County artist worked. Three related displays explore the 19th-century

craft of ornamental painting, the Quaker meetinghouse environment,

and the iconography of William Penn and the Society of Friends. $5

adult; $1.50 youth. Museum hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to

5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday evening to 9 p.m.

James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown,

215-340-9800. Celebration of American Art features "An Edward

Hicks Sampler," featuring an 1837 version of "Peaceable Kingdom"

and "The Landing of Columbus." Also an exhibition, "Picturing

Washington: Icons and Images of America’s Founding Father." $5

adults; $1.50 students; children free. Museum hours are Tuesday to

Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.; Saturday

& Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also "The Philadelphia Ten: A Women’s Artist Group, 1917 to 1945,"

to October 3. "From Soup Cans to Nuts," an exhibition of prints

by Andy Warhol, on loan from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The

artist, who died in 1987, is best known for his flamboyant, multiple

silkscreen prints that explore icons of popular culture from the famous

soup to Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. To November 21.

Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday

evenings to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed

Mondays. $5 adults; students $1.50; children free.

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Other Galleries

The Artful Deposit, 201 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown,

609-298-6970. "Thomas Kelly: Recent Works," an exhibition

by the painter whose quirky scenes capture some of the enigma of life

as we know it. To October 31. Gallery is open Thursday through Saturday,

4 to 7 p.m.

The Artful Deposit, 46 South Main Street, Allentown, 609-259-3234.

"Cats," a group exhibition with works by artists inlcuding

Bill Giacalone, Hanneke DeNeve, Elizabeth Lombardi. Gallery is open

Tuesday through Sunday (call for hours) and by appointment. To November

15.

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown, 609-298-3742.

The gallery celebrates its fourth year and a new exhibition season

featuring 12 gallery co-op members presenting shows that change monthly.

Working with owner Eric Gibbons are curators and artists Beverly Fredericks

and Lana Bernard-Toniolio.

Additional co-op members are Maura Carey, Sarah Bernotas, Richard

Gerster, Robert Sinkus, Mike Pacitti, Michael Bergman, Jane Lawrence,

Charlotte Jacks, Dorothy Amsden, Carmen Johnson, Joh Wilson, and Bob

Gherardi. Gallery hours are Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday

to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Highlands Gallery, Forsgate Country Club, 375 Forsgate

Drive, Jamesburg, 732-521-0070. "Medley," an exhibition of

paintings, hand-made paper, and mixed media works by Anita Benarde.

To October 27. Free.

Mariboe Gallery, The Peddie School, 609-490-7550.

"Hall of Heroes," Bob Karstadt’s exhibition of drawings and

sculptures that examine heroes physical, mystical, biblical, historical,

popular, and extraterrestrial. His subjects include Mickey Mouse,

Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, Socrates, and John Glenn. To October

15. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Montgomery Cultural Center, 1860 House, 124 Montgomery

Road, 609-921-3272. Shared show of oils by Helen Post and abstract

acrylics by Helen Gallagher. To October 30. Gallery hours are Tuesday

to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Morpeth Gallery, 18 North Main Street, Pennington, 609-737-9313.

Landscapes and animal paintings on glass by Mary DeWitt. To October

23. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 440 River Road, Somerville,

908-725-2110. "Reading Blake," a national group show, organized

by Paul Bonelli and Thomas Huck, of prints based on the art, poetry,

and philosophy of William Blake. Show features works evocative of

the visual style Blake used in his etchings as well as contemporary

interpretations. Media include engraving, etching, linocut, lithography,

silkscreen, letterpress, and woodcut. Gallery hours are Wednesday

through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To October

15.

Stony Brook Millstone Watershed, 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington,

609-737-7592. "Environmental Studies, Computer Collages and Wooden

Ware" by J. Chester Farnsworth, a satirical show of mixed-media

work, To October 30.


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