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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the September 4, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
In the Galleries: PAA at Newark Museum
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy…
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will — sing for our time too.
Homer’s 2,700-year-old "Odyssey" has become
a well-worn metaphor for life’s adventurous journey. In Princeton,
it has also become known as an artist’s creative adventure.
Beginning early in 1998, members of the Princeton Artists Alliance,
inspired by Robert Fagles’ modern translation from the ancient Greek,
immersed themselves in Homer’s epic poem. Fagles helped open windows
onto a poem some had not read since high school and others had never
read. The resulting works became a 1999 group exhibit, curated by
Pamela V. Sherin for the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Now, in
an encore performance, many of the same art works and some new ones
can be seen in the Community Gallery of the Newark Museum. The opening
reception is Sunday, September 8, for the show that runs until October
Princeton Artists’ Alliance, currently led by president Marie Sturken,
has a membership of 21 professional artists. Sturken says PAA’s first
museum show, accompanied by a full-color, 32-page catalogue, is a
watershed. Of the show’s 25 artists, four are now former members of
PAA; two are new. And the Newark Museum show is smaller by virtue
of the fact that each artist is represented by a single work.
"We’re thrilled to have our first museum show," says Sturken.
"The community gallery and its mission closely matches our own.
Their space is wonderful and it’s a tighter show, hung in a single
rectangular room in such a way that each work looks at its best."
A showcase for the state’s talented professionals, shows in the museum’s
community gallery shows are earned through a competitive process.
PAA member Joy Saville made the first inquiries for the group. Director
Mary Sue Sweeney found it fascinating to link a new translation of
Homer by an eminent New Jerseyan with a group of works created by
New Jersey artists.
PAA’s "Odyssey" project took a year. "It was a long slow
process," says Sturken. "Our monthly meetings became a forum
for discussion and we also wanted to try not to duplicate the same
passages of text. Some were timid about working toward a theme. Some
did wonderful things that they didn’t think they could do." Each
work is accompanied by wall text referring to the words of the poem.
One of the highlights of the original show was a reading
given by Robert Fagles in the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Sturken
recalls how "even Robert Fagles remarked at that time, `Well a
picture can be worth a thousand words.’"
For the reprise presentation of "Homer’s Odyssey," PAA’s two
new members, Shellie Jacobson and Ruane Miller, had to go through
the same regime as the others.
"We said they had to read the book," says Sturken. "Shellie
Jacobson found it so easy to read, she couldn’t put it down."
More difficult was how a ceramic artist would fit her vision into
the whole. For her work "Odysseus Home at Last," Jacobson
settled on the standing, disguised figure of the warrior, returned
from his journey but still accompanied by symbolic representations
of aspects of his adventure that trail behind him.
Homer’s story of the hero’s perilous journey from the wars in Troy
to the home he finds occupied by a horde of rivals who are eating
his livestock and plotting to kill his son and heir was probably composed
around 700 to 650 B.C. The huge sales of Fagles’ new translation,
published in 1996 by Viking Penguin, as well as his previous success
with the "Iliad," bears testament to Homer’s continuing spell.
"These poems weren’t meant as literature or words on a page to
be read, but as a song in the air," Fagles told his audience at
the original PAA show. "Homer’s work is a performance, even in
part a musical event." Remarkably, Fagles, engaged in the study
of Homer’s poetry for decades, found that the artists’ creative interpretations
gave him a new vision of his familiar subject.
"I found the whole range of inventiveness a kind of revelation,"
he said after the first exhibit. "So many styles, so many impressions,
so many media. And they all seem to have something to say about Homer.
"You may live intimately with the work," he continued, "but
every time someone places his or her hands on it, this somehow changes
it for the next person. There’s always a new angle of vision, it seems.
And this show offers new angles of vision aplenty."
Like the PAA artists immersed in Odysseus’ saga, Fagles says the ancient
poem has always struck him for its vivid imagery.
"It was strongly visual in that whenever I was translating a scene
involving people, action, and events — and they’re all very dramatic
— always as a writer I would try to visualize the scene. I would
even put people on the stage and see them playing these roles in order
to describe it. This is the kind of work that involves all your senses
One of the PAA artists’ works that effectively conjures the image
of the hero Odysseus at sea is Margaret Kennard Johnson’s ineffable
"Undaunted." This delicate mesh relief print contrasts the
vastness of the ocean against a tiny falling human figure lost in
a dark universe of water. Johnson, who read "The Odyssey"
for the first time for this project, said the experience stretched
"Somehow I got by-passed totally," Johnson told U.S. 1 back
in 1999. "I had never read `The Odyssey’ in school, so I had to
pull myself into reading it for the first time. But when I got into
it, the rich resources of visual images, and just the adventure of
it — it was a wonderful experience. The translation is so poetic
and so beautiful, I think it helped us all along.
"In my case, and I think this is true of many of the other artists,
it was a real challenge to use our own medium and style to express
something that seems important to express in `The Odyssey,’" she
continued. "I was struck by the ocean as being so formidable.
I wanted to express how the mystery and the apprehension of the unknown
is something that happens to all of us. I wanted it to have meaning
for any struggle in a big powerful environment."
How Fagles has made Homer’s epic pleasurable for contemporary readers
is an impressive feat.
"This was not the lingua franca of its own day," Fagles explained.
"It was an artificial language — in a good sense — a stylized
language designed to give it certain kinds of power, effectiveness,
and rhythmic intensity." Although Homer’s language embodies archaic
touches, Fagles notes its contemporaneity as well. "It was a combination
of strangeness and the known." These are qualities that viewers
can experience, also, in PAA’s collection of imaginative artworks
in all media.
Street, Newark, 800-768-7386. Opening reception for "Homer’s Odyssey,"
a group exhibit by the Princeton Artists Alliance, on view through
Sunday, October 27. Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, noon
to 5 p.m. Free. Sunday, September 8, 2 to 4 p.m.
and Hope," an exhibit of contemporary painting and Chinese calligraphy
by Seow-Chu See. Artist’s reception is Tuesday, September 10, 5 to
7 p.m. Gallery open by appointmeulpture, and prints. Gallery hours
are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "From Tow Path to Bike Path: Princeton
and the Delaware and Raritan Canal," an exhibition on the history
and creation of the canal, the life of death of its workers, and recent
environmental and preservation issues. Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon
to 4 p.m. Show runs to March, 2003.
Mixed-media works by Beth Habe that explore cultural myths, legends,
and quirks through the ornamental imagery of nature. Her works in
the Biblical Bestiary Series play with folk associations and relations
between Jewish tradition and the natural world. Gallery is open Monday
to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Saturdays. To October 30.
Sculpture by Larry Steele. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10
a.m. to 4 p.m. To October 3.
609-586-0616. Summer Exhibition. In the Museum and Domestic Arts Buildings:
Tri-State Sculptors’ Guild, recent work by 35 artists of North Carolina,
South Carolina, and Virginia. New additions outdoors by Walter Dusenbery,
John Henry, Hartmut Stielow, Rhea Zinman, and others. Regular park
admission $4 to $10. To September 29.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday
is Members Day. Adult admission is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7
Friday and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Individual memberships start
609-586-2366. "The Figure in Bronze," a group show of 40 figurative
sculptures by artists Itzik Benshalom, Bright Bimpong, Noa Bornstein,
Leonda Finke, Gyuri Hollosy, Barbara Lekberg, and others. Store hours
are Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. To September 15.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New World,"
recent additions to the collection featuring works by nine Hungarian
Americans who 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 Vincent
Korda. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4
p.m. $5 donation. Show runs to April, 2003.
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 II selected by Donna Gustafson of the Hunterdon
Museum of Art. Selected artists are Rob Greco, Frances Heinrich, Loring
Hughes, Joy Kreves, and Terry Rosiak. Museum hours are Tuesday through
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To September 15.
908-735-8415. "Post-Systemic Art," an exploration of current
trends in geometric abstraction. Also, "Meghan Wood: Recent Sculpture,"
constructions in fabric, buttons, and thread. Open Tuesday to Sunday,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To September 15.
215-340-9800. "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," the seminal
1930s collaboration by writer James Agee and photographer
Walker Evans. Show features 76 Evans photographs, prose from Agee,
along with letters and notebooks documenting their process. Admission
$10 adult; $7 students. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to
9 p.m. To October 13.
Also "Michael A. Smith: Landscapes," an exhibit of 13 images
of the land by the self-taught Bucks County photographer, to October
6. Five large-scale granite and marble sculptures by Harry Gordon
are on display in the Outdoor Sculpture Gardens, to October 27.
Route 1, North Brunswick, 732-249-2077. "Barnscapes: The Changing
Face of Agriculture in New Jersey," photographs of New Jersey
barns and farmlands, with 42 images by New Jersey landscape photographer
Louise Rosskam. On view to January 17. $4 adults, $2 children.
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
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.
State Museum’s Ethnographic Collection," to September 15. "A
Decade of Collecting, Part 1," to January 5.
Trenton, 609-394-9535. Watercolors by Sandra Nusblatt are on display
in the cafe gallery. Sales benefits New Jersey State Museum. To September
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.
609-397-0275. Paintings and monoprints by Laura Blasenheim, an artist
who began her career 20 years ago as a partner in the area furnishings
shop "Designing Women." In 1979, an auto accident left her
disabled and she turned to drawing and painting as part of her therapy.
Now she offers a vision of the world that is both vibrant and moving.
Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5 p.m.;
and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To September 27.
Group show by abstractionists C.M. Gross, Don Jordan, Florence Moonan,
and Mitchell Yarmark. Thursday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To September
Annual summer group show by more than a dozen artists that highlights
works by the nationally-recognized Trenton-born muralist Charles William
Ward (1900-1962). Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To September
908-996-1470. "Abstractions and Reflections," a group show
by area artists including Ed Baumlin, W. Carl Burger, Sonya Kuhfahl,
Nadine and Nancy Synnestvedt, and Barbara White. Gallery is open 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.
Hope, 215-862-2112. "The Early Paintings" by Gordon Haas,
an exhibit of 40 paintings with subject matter ranging from harness
racing and wildlife to landscape and city scenes.
"Gods and Guerrillas," a three-person show of new paintings
by Ron English, Lisa Petrucci, and Dalek. Open Thursday through Monday,
noon to 7 p.m. To September 30.
Shared photography show features M. Jay Goodkind’s black-and-white
prints "From the Garden," and Rhoda Kassof-Isaac’s hand-colored
double exposures, "About Color." Open Saturday, 11 a.m. to
5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. To September 15.
Road, 609-921-3272. In the Upstairs Gallery, "Painterly Approaches:
Recent Works by Patrice Sprovieri and Betty Reeves Klank" featuring
watercolor landscape, genre, and still life paintings. Opening reception
is Sunday, September 8, 2 to 4 p.m., for the show that runs to September
29. Gallery hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sundays
1 to 4 p.m.
Shared show of paintings by Kirby Fredendall and sculpture by Donna
McCullough. Pennsylvania artist Fredendall refers to her abstract
paintings as memory portraits. The subjects rendered are biological,
images gleaned from ultrasounds and X-rays, seedpods and budding plants.
McCullough, a member of the Washington Sculpture Group, shows works
from her recent series "Drill Team." Constructed of vintage
gas and oil cans, her garment-like sculptures parody our society’s
intimate involvement with oil and petroleum products. Open Wednesday
to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To September
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. "Food Chain," an international
juried group show that looks at the relationship between food and
survival. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4
p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Reception is Sunday, September 8 for the
show that runs to September 14.
Exhibit of Chinese calligraphy on wood by Ming-Yee Chiu. Inspired
by the tradition of carving Chinese couplets on a pair of bamboo boards,
he carves calligraphy on a variety of woods. To September 30. @HEAD
14 = Campus Arts
of the Tomb: Spirit Beasts in Tang Dynasty China," extended to
September 29. "Photographs from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection,"
to October 27. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday
1 to 5 p.m. 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.
Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Celebration," paintings by Lee
Rumsey inspired by music, dance, and photography. Gallery hours are
Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 8 p.m. To
West Windsor, 609-586-4800, ext. 3589. "Balance," a shared
show of recent works by John Franklin and Sarah Stengle. Artists’
reception is Thursday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m., with a gallery talk
on Wednesday, September 25, at 7 p.m. Gallery hours Tuesday to Thursday,
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday evenings 6 to 8 p.m.; Thursday evenings
7 to 9 p.m. To October 3.
"In my work in the past, I wanted to escape the idea of `beauty’
(as foolish as that may seem now)," says Franklin, who earned
an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. "I am now far
more comfortable submitting to that urge to reflect upon and try to
make something beautiful than ever before." After spending several
years in Japan with his wife and daughter, Franklin now works at the
Stengle, who has an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, recently moved
to the area with her two young daughters. She is currently developing
a property in Trenton into studios for artists. "My work is very
much a product of my times, and even elements of the work that are
old are used in a symbolic rather than nostalgic manner," she
says. "I see myself as standing against the speed, noise, and
aggression in our culture."
Lawrenceville, 609-896-5325. Garden State Watercolor Society 33d annual
juried members’ exhibition. Jurors are Joe Frassetta and Donald W.
Patterson. Opening reception and awards ceremony Saturday, September
21, 2 to 5 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.
to 7 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.; and Saturdays, August 31,
and September 14, from noon to 4 p.m. To September 27.
Sunday, September 8, at 1 p.m., and Monday, September 9, at 7 p.m.
The cast of 10 ranges in age from 30s to 50s. Prepare a short comic
monologue. Show runs November 15 to 24. To schedule, call 609-730-9099.
Happened on the Way to the Forum," on Saturday and Sunday, September
14 and 15, from noon to 4 p.m., at Mercer College, 1200 Old Trenton
Road. (Room location will be posted at Kelsey Theater). The show will
be directed by Dan Spalluto, with musical direction by Shannon Ferrara.
For information, E-mail: email@example.com
Wizard of Oz" Friday, September 13 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, September
14 at 10 a.m. at North Brunswick High School, Route 130 and Raider
Road. Actors ages 5 to 17 come prepared to sing a Broadway showtune,
Disney song, or Happy Birthday. Show plays weekend of October 26.
September 28, for ages 10 to adult. Classes at Mason Gross School
of the Arts are taught by the school’s MFA acting students. Cost is
$330. Call 732-415-0682.
Call for Entries
the "Hi! It’s Me, Your Dog!" photo contest. Take or send your
nonreturnable picture to Borders in Nassau Park between September
1 and 30 for display. Winners, notified by October 20, will be chosen
by Emmy-Award winner journalist Lisa Mendoza. Call 800-497-4909 for
Contest. Submit essay, photo essay, drawing, or painting, telling
the story of a hero in your life. Entry deadline is Monday, September
30. Winners will be honored at a ceremony and receive a $500 mall
shopping spree on October 11. Bring entries to customer service center
or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
TRAILS program providing riding instruction for children and adults
with developmental disabilities. No experience needed. Call 908-526-5650.
classic cars for display on Friday, October 4 as part of the Annual
Mercer County Open House Weekend. Each vehicle receive two tickets
to the Doo Wop 2002 concert. Also seeking fire trucks for display
on Sunday, October 6, from noon to 4 p.m. to promote fire prevention
Corrections or additions?
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