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This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the July 17, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
In the Galleries
A-tisket, a-tasket, a green and yellow basket."
If that musical nursery rhyme sums up basketry for you, trip over
to the Stony Brook Gallery, where nearly 90 hand-woven baskets are
displayed, none of them green and yellow. Together, they have a powerful
and pleasing impact. Individually, many of them have surprising uses
and fascinating origins.
And most of this lore springs from the exhibition’s curator, Martha
Mulford-Dreswick, who makes baskets herself, teaches basket weaving,
and talks about it all in a lively and informed way. Dreswick drew
from eight past and present basket weaving students and her own work
for the show at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association that
runs through Saturday, August 17. Dreswick is also teaching two day-long
workshops during the show’s run, the next one scheduled for Saturday,
The gallery, part of the Buttinger Nature Center’s multi-purpose room,
if filled with baskets, most are in shades of brown, often verging
toward darks. Some include hand-dyed parts, commonly green or blue,
and a few have canvas, or "webbing" straps and trim. Almost
all are made of wood strips, most with red or white oak handles. And
that’s where the similarities end.
Within the range of both traditional and decidedly non-traditional
basket uses — think of our CDs, mail, and newspapers — there’s
a great deal of individuality and versatility here. Barbara Rosati,
for instance, embellishes the lid of her large brown ash basket with
"Mohawk curls" that Dreswick says are "strictly cosmetic."
Competing with Shaker basket makers, Mohawk Indians had devised these
curls to make their baskets more attractive.
Lynn Ebling’s "Melon Basket" is appealingly shaped like a
large cantaloupe, and like Carol Nofziger and Barbara Bradsell, she
has produced a "traditional bun basket," hers very intricately
worked in multi-tones and textures. Named for what it resembles, not
what it might hold, this gracefully rounded basket with a center divide
goes by various names around the country; Dreswick says that "buttocks
basket" is only one of them.
Probably the most open-weave style is illustrated in Harriet Stuart’s
"Shaker Cheese Basket," a shallow, rounded piece facilitating
air circulation. Emilia Tosic-DiSanto is one of those who shows her
version of a "Cat Head Basket," which Dreswick says is a Shaker
style whose bottom shape suggests a cat’s head in silhouette.
Helen Schwartz has a dozen baskets on display, including a couple
made with coated newspaper strips and one — the only piece here
not made of wood or wood-derivative — woven from speaker wire.
Schwartz also employs decorative black beads and comparatively bright
colors. Ireen Miller’s three entries all bear "Nantucket"
names: an oval tray and two lidded baskets.
The perfect seasonal basket, Dreswick’s own "Flower Gathering
Basket with White Oak Handles," a shallow, curvy, oblong affair,
seems the perfect vessel for blooms of many colors. Without a single
stem in sight, it nevertheless suggests sunbonnets, white eyelet pinafores
over gingham, and sweet summer scents.
Dreswick often makes sizable baskets, such as her capacious storage
and toy containers. Her "Hickory Bass Bark Fruit Basket" also
illustrates why some baskets can become family heirlooms. So strong
is the hickory wood — so briefly malleable, so quickly rock-like
— that a basket must be made within 12 hours of cutting down the
tree. After that, "You could run over it with a truck and not
be able to break it," says Dreswick, recounting the frantic haste
she remembers from one experience of hickory basket-making.
If you harvest your own wood and carve your handles, you’re a "basket-maker,"
she says, while "basket weavers" are those who work through
the process of producing baskets from materials provided by others.
And that can be complicated enough: it starts at the bottom, with
either a flat wood base or a woven one (as with the cat head basket),
and moves up, until the rim can be lashed onto the top of the basket.
Stony Brook’s "gallery" consists of the walls and open spaces
of a large room filled with tables and chairs — an area that’s
also used for staff training and workshops, besides housing "Sally,"
an active red-eared turtle, in a tub of water. Be forewarned: it can
be a frightfully hot and humid place in the summer. There is no air
conditioning and during a visit in early July, three open windows
produced no moving air to speak of. Such a climate can give new meaning
to the notions of being a "basket case" and "going to
hell in a hand basket." But if you want to see these estimable
baskets, my best advice is to dress lightly and carry a big flask.
— Pat Summers
31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, 609-737-7592. Day-long basket weaving
workshop taught by Martha Mulford Dreswick, curator of the current
exhibition, "A Gathering of Baskets." Preregister, $65. Galley
hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., for the exhibit that
runs to August 17. Saturday, July 20, 9:30 a.m.
"Enigmas," the annual summer group exhibition of paintings,
drawings, sculpture, and prints by an international stable of artists.
Show highlights artists who have joined the gallery over the past
six months, a group that includes Ruslan Vashkevich, Piet Peere, and
Manuela Holban. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. To July 26.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "From Tow Path to Bike Path: Princeton
and the Delaware and Raritan Canal," an exhibition that looks
at the history and creation of the canal, the life of death of its
workers, and more recent environmental and preservation issues. Open
Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Show runs to March, 2003. Free.
Family an exhibition featuring Sara and Nicole Funke and their grandfather,
sculptor and retired DuPont research chemist Robert F. Drury. Twins
Sara and Nicole Funke were born in East Windsor in 1979 and have lived
in the area all their lives. "Funke Fantasies" is the subtitle
of the show featuring paintings of dreams and imaginative fantasies
of mermaids, dragons, and unicorns. Gallery hours Friday and Saturday,
1 to 6 pm, and "by chance or by appointment."
Jazz and celebrity paintings by James Lucas of Cranbury. Opening reception
is Tuesday, July 9, from 6 to 9 p.m., for the show that runs to September
Deities, and Sages in Chinese Painting," to September 29. "The
Peter C. Bunnell Collection," to September 1. "American Drawings
and Watercolors: Gifts of Leonard L. Milberg," a collection of
23 works on paper, to July 21. "Japanese Woodblock Prints,"
a 16-print survey from Suzuki Harunobu (1725) to Hiroshige (1850s),
to September 1. "Guardians of the Tomb: Spirit Beasts in Tang
Dynasty China," to September 1. Open Tuesday through Saturday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free highlights tours every
Saturday at 2 p.m. Www.princetonartmuseum.org.
609-258-3184. "Heroic Pastorals: Images of the American Landscape."
Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Lawrenceville, 609-896-5168. Annual exhibition of works by Rider students
in all mediums. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.;
Friday to Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m. To August 11.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New World,"
an exhibit of recent additions to the museum collection featuring
works by nine Hungarian Americans, all of whom emigrated to the U.S.
between 1920 and 1957. Artists are Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bertha and
Elena De Hellenbranth, Sandor Sugor, Emil Kelemen, Willy Pogany, Tibor
Gergely, Zoltan Poharnok, and Vicent Korda; to April, 2003. Museum
hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to
4 p.m. $5 donation.
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.
On view to May 30, 2003.
TAWA Invitational 1, selected by Donna Gustafson of the Hunterdon
Museum of Art. Selected artists are Gail Bracegirdle, Diana Kurz,
Diane Levell, Diane Pastore, and Sarah Stengle. Museum hours are Tuesday
through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To July 28.
908-735-8415. "Post-Systemic Art," current trends in geometric
abstraction. Also, "Meghan Wood: Recent Sculpture," constructions
in fabric, buttons, and thread. Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To September 15.
215-340-9800. "Michael A. Smith: Landscapes," an exhibition
of 13 works from the recent acquisition of 40 prints by the self-taught
Bucks County photographer. Museum hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday
evenings to 9 p.m. $6 adult; $3 student. To October 6.
609-292-6464. "River of Leisure: Recreation Along the Delaware,"
to November 3. "Cruising Down the Delaware: Natural History You
Can See," an introduction to New Jersey’s natural features by
way of the historic waterway, to November 10. Museum hours are Tuesday
through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Also: "American Indians as Artists: The Beginnings of the State
Museum’s Ethnographic Collection," to September 15. "A Decade
of Collecting, Part 1," to January 5.
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;" "Painting of Washington Crossing
West State Street, Trenton, 609-292-6464. "A Decade of Collecting,"
works from the museum’s archaeological, ethnographic, and natural
history collections. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., to
January 5, 2003.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "India: Contemporary Art From Northeastern
Private Collections," the largest exhibition of its kind to be
held in an American museum. Show features more than 100 works from
20 collections, with an emphasis on the post-independence era, 1947
to the present. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission $3 adults;
under 18 free; museum is open free to the public on the first Sunday
of every month. To July 31.
Also, "In Context: Patterns in Contemporary Printmaking;"
"The Baltics: Nonconformist and Modernist Art During the Soviet
Era," the first major survey of modernist art produced in Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania during the post-Soviet period; "Efim Ladyzhensky;"
and "By All Means: Materials and Mood in Picture Book Illustrations."
All to July 31.
"Black, White, and Color" digital drawings and photographs
by Alan J. Klawans; plus "D.C. Sketches" by B.A. Keogh. Friday,
Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To August 4.
"Outside In," an exhibit of recent landscape paintings by
Robert MaGaw and Mike Filipiak. Gallery is open Thursday to Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m. To August 12.
Annual summer group show highlights works by the nationally-recognized
Trenton-born artist and muralist Charles William Ward (1900-1962).
More than two dozen artists represented in the show that runs to September
8. Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
609-397-7774. Discoveries Exhibition featuring 100 jewelry pieces.
Monday to Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to
6 p.m. To September 2.
609-397-1006. Paintings by Ed Adams and ceramics by Reinaldo Sanguino.
Thursday through Monday, noon to 5 p.m. To August 31.
Hope. New and collaborative works by Ursula Klostermyer, Toshiko Nishikawa,
Margo Noisten, and Emily Townsend. To July 31.
908-996-1470. "Abstractions and Reflections," a group show
including Ed Baumlin, W. Carl Burger, Sonya Kuhfahl, Nadine and Nancy
Synnestvedt, and Barbara White. Wednesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5
p.m.; Friday & Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
To September 18.
"Boxes and Light," collaborative works by Jim Webb and Annelies
van Dommelen. Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 1 to
5 p.m. To July 31.
East, Plainsboro, 609-452-7800. Solo exhibition or paintings and prints
by Plainsboro resident Donna Senopoulos. Through August 30.
"Markings" by DF Connors, and "Orchids" by Heinz Gartlgruber.
Gallery hours are Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 5
p.m. Shows on view to July 21.
"Watercolor Anarchy," an exhibition by Gail Bracegirdle
and students. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday,
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To August 17.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Hot Stuff and Cool Jazz," a Creative
Artist Guild exhibit that celebrates the scents, sounds, sights, desires,
passions, and memories of summertime. Participating members of the
guild include Jane Adriance, Susan Antin, Hetty Baiz, Dorothy Bissell,
Helen Gallagher, Connie Gray, Carol Hanson, Mary Kramarenko, Darlene
Prestbo, and Seow-Chu See. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3
p.m.; Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To July 23.
A shared show of watercolors by Lambertville’s Barbara Osterman and
oil paintings by Pat Martin. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to
6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. to July 20.
Suite 208, Morrisville, 215-295-8444. Taylor Photo Corporate Exhibition,
work by William Taylor and staff members of Taylor Photo in Princeton.
Parachute is an artist-run gallery featuring innovative art in all
media. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday,
1 to 5 p.m. To July 20.
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. "Artist to Artist: Berlin to New
Jersey," works by more than 25 artists of the 12 Months/12 Originals
Printmaking Collective of Berlin, Germany, and the Printmaking Council.
Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.
To July 20.
of nature photography by Andrew Chen. Born in Hong Kong, Chen is a
self-taught photographer works in the pharmaceutical industry and
lives in Montgomery. To July 31.
Sculpture by Rafia Mahli, now completing a two-year apprenticeship
at the Johnson Atelier. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Show
runs to August 1.
Mahli says her artwork is born of a process of constant questioning,
investigation, and experimentation. This situation often results in
a feeling of being literally "split" with multiple voices
to mediate. Mahli believes that art is an ideal forum in which to
speak of this universal condition.
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