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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 16, 2000. All rights
In the Galleries: Eleanor Burnette
The opportunity to jump into the art world came at
early age for Eleanor Burnette. As a seventh grade public school
in Chicago, she was selected for a Saturday art curriculum for gifted
children at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. For two years
she traveled to the museum alone — her first real taste of
— for lectures, projects, and hands-on study in the museum
Although back then art was just one of many competing interests, it
eventually became a central part of Burnette’s life.
A solo exhibition of Burnette’s sculpture and works on paper, a show
that covers four different cycles of her work, from figurative bronze
sculpted figures of the late 1980s to her most recent dynamic abstract
studies on paper, is on view at the Gallery at Merrill Lynch Financial
Center to April 27. Burnette gives a gallery talk on her work on
February 18, at 4:30 p.m.
Burnette’s work has been exhibited extensively, at juried exhibitions
that include the Mercer County Artists Annual and the Ellarslie Open,
at a solo exhibition at the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Gallery in
New Brunswick in 1991, and at a 20-year retrospective at Mercer County
College in 1997. Her works are included in the Janssen Pharmaceutica
Collection and various private collections.
"I was never encouraged to seek art as a profession, but I was
never discouraged either," says Burnette, who area book lovers
may know at her "day job" at Micawber Books on Nassau Street,
where she has provided well-informed assistance, off and on,
the 1980s and ’90s. After a stint at the Institute for Advanced Study,
she left the area for a time to live and work in Rhode Island, but
returned three years ago.
Born and raised in Chicago, her father was a businessman who, early
on, owned a popular nightclub on the South Side of Chicago. Later
he went into sales. Her mother, who had managed a top-flight
eventually gave that up for the household, Eleanor, and her two
As a child she enjoyed math (especially geometry) and science, as
well as languages. She was thinking pre-med when she went off to
but did not complete any academic training until her own son went
off to kindergarten. (He is now married and works for Airtouch, a
major telecommunications firm.) She graduated in fine arts at Chicago
State University in 1976 as an adult learner.
Burnette, who never took a traditional sculpture class
as an undergraduate, came to the medium through a ceramics course.
"I had a wrist injury that prevented me from learning to throw,
so I had to do hand-building instead. I remember so vividly the work
I wanted, stretching the clay medium to build forms. My instructor
told me, `You are a sculptor.’ She saw that was a possible direction
for me. It didn’t get clear to me until much later."
Arriving on the East Coast with her family in 1978, she spent one
semester at the New School in New York with Chaim Gross in a figure
modeling class. She then was accepted as an apprentice at the Johnson
Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture, where she learned
and bronze casting from 1978 to 1980.
Complex but sturdy structures are the focus of Burnette’s abstract
and figurative work. Both sculpture and works on paper establish
and window-like vistas.
"I am an experimenter. I am spontaneous," she says. "I
don’t tend to do maquettes or drawings. I tend to start from an idea
I have in mind and go with what interests me."
In 1994 Burnette decided she wanted to study for an MFA, and the
year she moved to Rhode Island "to put myself in the way of
at her preferred school, the Rhode Island School of Design. She spent
18 months there, and although she did not enter the graduate program,
her work was exhibited at the Virginia Lynch Gallery, one of the
It was at this time that Burnette found herself driving a
rented truck through a major snowstorm from Rhode Island to Mercer
County College to deliver her work for her 20-year retrospective show.
This proved a new turning point as the show was so well-received by
both the college and art community that she left with "the germ
of the idea of moving back."
Returning to the area three years ago, she re-joined the Micawber
staff. and found ample, affordable space in the renovated structure
that was once the Corona Cigar Factory in Trenton.
Burnette says art and a day job — be it at Micawber Books or
— are not mutually exclusive. "In a pragmatic way, Micawber
gives me the capability of making art. There’s also a kinship with
the humanities that a bookstore provides. From the start, I felt
to the art section. This was my community," she says.
"All aspects of my life are part of my art life. You don’t just
do the art, you have other responsibilities and relationships and
connections. It’s a matter of the whole view, of balancing each aspect
so they support each other."
— Nicole Plett
800 Scudders Mill Road, Plainsboro, 609-282-3401. Gallery talk in
conjunction with a solo exhibition that remains on view to April 27.
Free. Friday, February 18, 4:30 p.m.
In the WPA gallery, the ceramic work of Zac Adams, "The Sum of
Its Parts." To February 25. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday,
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"International Print Show" with abstract collographs by Brenda
Hartill, wood engravings by Peter Lazarov, and figurative etchings
by Max Werner. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5
p.m. To February 26.
1200 Stuart Road, 609-921-2330. Faculty exhibition features
Deborah Land, printmaker Madelaine Shellaby, and painter Mary Vaughan
in a group exhibition, "Outlook: Views of Nature." To February
Art and Technology in the 21st Century: Leaders of Innovation,"
featuring artists George Cramer, Susumu Endo, and Roman Verostko.
To February 26. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to
609-298-6970. Hanneke de Neve’s "Love & Romance," an
of expressive works in oil, gouache, monotype, fiber, and collage.
To March 15. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m.
609-620-6026. "The Hand of Man: Prehistoric Cave Art," an
exhibit of silkscreen prints by Douglas Mazonowicz. To February 29.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Out of the Blue," an exhibition of
by the physically challenged artists working with Artistic Realization
Technologies’ artist Tim Lefens. To February 26. Tuesdays to
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Recent paintings by Tomi Urayama. Floral and other natural motifs
are prominent in Uraya’s work, revealing her training as a kimono
painter in Japan. Her latest series is thematically linked by a
element surrounded by flowing fabric. To February 26. Gallery hours
are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"Through the Eye of a Needle: The Lap Quilts of Mo Fleming."
In her quilting, Fleming, former chair of Plainsboro’s Human Relations
Committee, continues a family tradition that spans generations. To
"Grinding the Wind," an exhibition of kinetic sculpture of
Philadelphia artist Alison Kuby Netz, curated by James Dickinson,
Rider professor of sociology. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday,
2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m. To March 4.
609-737-7592. "Small Works of Nature," a juried group show
on natural themes. To March 25.
Contemporary Art by African-American Artists," works in all media
drawn primarily from the permanent collection. The paintings, prints,
photographs, and sculpture by such contemporary black artists as
Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Robert Colescott, Sam Gilliam, Lyle Ashton
Harris, Margo Humphrey, Jacob Lawrence, Adrian Piper, Lorna Simpson,
and Carrie Mae Weems. Two of the photographers represented, Accra
Shepp and Carla Williams, are Princeton graduates. To March 5.
Also "Transfer: Large Format Prints of the 1960s and 1970s"
to April 2. 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.
609-258-4790. Princeton Photography Club, an exhibition of more than
60 color and black and white prints by 18 area photographers, members
of the club founded in 1983. To February 26.
Trenton, 609-394-4121. A group show featuring the works of the art
faculty of Trenton public schools. Show continues to March 2.
A photography series by Sarnoff staff member Colleen Marks Schlaffer
that feature the American flag in eye-catching and surprising
Weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to February 18.
"For four years I’ve been taking pictures of the patriotic,
and sometimes silly things Americans do to display our flag,"
says Schlaffer. "In other countries people don’t display their
flags in the personal ways we do. They mostly hang their flags on
official buildings. I’m trying to show how, in a truly democratic
way, the American flag belongs to the American people."
609-895-7307. "Looking at the World: Work by Barry Snyder and
William H. Selesnick." To March 10. Exhibit is open Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
609-799-6706. The fourth annual group show curated by DeLann Gallery,
Plainsboro. More than 90 works by African-American artists as well
as black artists from origins as diverse as Haiti, Ghana, and Uganda,
are featured in media that include oil, acrylic, photography,
and ceramics. Also, art and artifacts from the African continent.
To April 7. Exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"Picture Trenton," a major exhibition of art in all media
with views of Trenton as the subject, co-sponsored with Artsbridge,
Artworks, and TAWA. To February 20. Museum hours are Tuesday through
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.
"Transcendence," an exhibition of recent works by Puerto Rican
sculptor Castanera. On view is a series of bronze and clay sculptures
that map his artistic journey, dedicated to his mother who died when
he was four years old. He is a staff member of the Johnson Atelier
Technical Institute of Sculpture. Gallery hours are Monday to
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To March 2.
Castanera’s work embodies his exploration of an afterlife. His art
masquerades the tragedy of death by enticing the senses with beautiful
forms that intrigue the living. His elegant and primitive designs
are influenced by Egyptian, Greek, and prehistoric art, as well as
Gothic, Art Deco, African, and Indian sculpture.
609-586-0616. Fall-Winter Exhibition. In the Museum and Domestic Arts
Building, "Beverly Pepper," one-artist show. On the mezzanine,
a thematic photography show, "Focus on Sculpture." Shows
to April 16. Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m., and by appointment.
New additions to the 22-acre landscaped sculpture park include works
by Michele Oka Doner, David Hostetler, J. Seward Johnson Jr.,
Leiro, John Martini, and Joseph Menna. The park is on the former state
fairgrounds site, with indoor exhibitions in the glass-walled, 10,000
square foot museum, and renovated Domestic Arts Building.
609-292-6464. "Unseen Treasures: Imperial Russia and the New
an exhibit of historic treasures of the Russian empire. The dazzling
collection of 300 art objects and artifacts from Russian’s famed State
Historical Museum and State Archive is displayed in five historical
settings. Show remains on view through April 16. Admission $10 adults;
$8.50 seniors and students; $6 children. Advance ticket purchase at
800-766-6048 or online at http://www.tickets.com. Exhibit is
open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to
6 p.m. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The dazzling collection of over 300 art objects and artifacts from
Russia’s famed State Historical Museum and the State Archive are being
seen for the first time outside the Russian Museum since its recently
completed 10-year renovation.
The exhibition takes the visitor on a unique journey beginning with
the formation of the Russian American Company in 1799 and spanning
a period of 200 years and 6,000 miles. From the Imperial Court of
St. Petersburg through the Russian winter in Siberia to the New World
of Alaska and Northern California and back to Moscow for the
of Alexander II, the exhibit tells an adventurous story of heroism,
romance, and spiritual enlightenment through the experiences of real
people who shaped Russian-American relations in the 18th and 19th
Also, "Making Our Own Way: Celebrating the Spirit", an exhibit
of 20 works by the Ebony Rainbow Quilters of South Jersey, to April
2. On extended view: "Dinosaur Turnpike: Treks through New
Piedmont"; "Amber: The Legendary Resin"; "The Moon:
Fact & Fiction."
609-695-0061. New work by Afi Toro, Michel Mockers, Anna Neis, Igor
Naskolov, Joseph Menna, Idaherma Williams, Anne Boysen, Ruth Laks,
Susan Weiss, Thom Reaves, Susan Tang & Harry Georgeson, to March 5.
Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m.
Street, New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "The Hungarian Spark in
an exhibit highlighting Hungarian contributions to the arts, sciences,
humanities, commerce, religious and civic life in America. Extended
to February 27. 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.
"A Drop in the Bucket," a group exhibition featuring large
installation works by Ann Tsubota, Don Kennell, Bill Macholdt, Sam
Larson, and Peter Duffin on a millennial theme. The show is
by a digital music composition by Gary Di Benedetto titled "A
Drop in the Bucket." To February 24. Gallery is open Monday, 3
to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 3 p.m.; and Wednesday,
1 to 8 p.m.
Collaborators Ann Tsubota and Don Kennell have created a piece that
includes 1,000 porcelain bowls, each numbered with a year.
are five large hammers made by Don Kennell. Both elements allude to
the idea of work, civilization, and human endeavor.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Enduring Figure, 1890s to 1970s:
Sixteen Sculptures from the National Association of Women
Show continues to March 12 when the museum closes for renovation,
through mid-October. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Free.
215-340-9800. "The Jazz Age in Paris, 1914 to 1940," a
exhibit from the Smithsonian that describes the heady expatriate scene
in Paris between the wars. To April 2. Also, "Let Children Be
Children: Lewis Hine’s Crusade Against Child Labor," an exhibition
of historic photographs from the early 20th century, to February 27.
Website: http://www.michenerartmuseum.org. Museum
hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5 adults; $1.50 students; children free.
Also on view, an exhibition of figurative outdoor sculpture by
artist Barry Johnston, to March 5; and "Recent Gifts: 19th and
20th-Century Photographs from Alexander Novak and Family," to
The 20th annual juried exhibition, "Lambertville and the
Area," sponsored by the Lambertville Historical Society.
include Robert Beck, Barbara G. Watts, Bryan Fisher, Tom Chesar,
Augustine, and Robert Sakson. Juror was artist Pat Martin. To March
19. Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
609-397-2300. A show of Charles Fazzino’s whimsical, three-dimensional
paper constructions on big subjects that include New York,
sports, and the law. To February 28. Open Wednesday through Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m.
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