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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 23, 2000. All rights
Mexico’s Artful Carvers
Hispanic author Carlos Fuentes once described the
exuberance of Mexican folk art as "the fiesta of the object."
The expression resonates deeply with Marlene Kurtz, a Spanish teacher
at Princeton Day School who has made the woodcarving arts of Oaxaca,
Mexico, a topic of special interest.
In conjunction with a week-long PDS residency, Mexican sculptor
Jimenez will be holding a demonstration and sale of his work on
February 24, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, February 25, 2:30 to
8:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 26, 2 to 5 p.m., in the theater
lobby entrance of the school on the Great Road in Princeton.
Armando is the grandson of Manuel Jimenez, the renowned founder of
the wood carving craft in Oaxaca. As a tribute to their grandfather,
brothers Armando and Moises Jimenez make pieces derived from animal
figures that Jimenez originated. While some carvers in the region
produce fantastical and mythological animals, Armando and Moises take
only real animals as their subjects.
"The folk art tradition of Oaxaca is millennia old," says
Kurtz. "Manuel Jimenez came to international attention in the
1960s, and the art work exploded. Since the late 1980s, wood carving
has been taken up by dozens of people in the region." Oaxaca wood
sculpture has become one of the most sought-after of the Mexican folk
arts currently being produced. Armando has previously demonstrated
and exhibited his carvings at the Heard Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Manuel Jimenez, who recently turned 80, lives and works in the village
of Arrazola, and came to international attention when folk art
Alexander Girard exhibited Jimenez’s carvings in the 1968 exhibition
and book, "The Magic of a People." Soon collectors such as
Nelson Rockefeller were buying his work. Introduced to him that year
was documentary filmmaker Judith Bronowski, who went on to make an
award-winning film, "Manuel Jimenez, Wood Carver." Completed
in 1977 as part of a four-film series on Mexico’s folk artists, the
film helped magnify the artist’s popularity.
Jimenez has been joined in the family business by his two youngest
sons, Angelico Jimenez and Isaias Jimenez, and in turn by the two
grandsons. Kurtz says she organized the week-long residency for
Jimenez to introduce the school community to the culture of rural
Now in her 14th year teaching at PDS, Kurtz grew up in New York. After
earning her B.A. at Brandeis and a master’ degree in Michigan, she
taught in California for many years before returning to New Jersey.
Her involvement in the arts and culture of Oaxaca began in earnest
five years ago when, for her 50th birthday, she received as a gift
a fantastical painted dragon. "I wanted to know where it came
from, who made it, and what cultural tradition had nurtured its
she says. "I had been interested in Mexican folk art for many
years, pottery and ceramics of all sorts and textiles, basketry,
But this one was new and it was very exciting."
Once she learned that her dragon was created in Oaxaca, Kurtz applied
for a professional development grant from PDS to go and study the
craft in the summer of 1996. "I met dozens of artists," she
recalls, "and was able to videotape three of them working, talking
about their craft, and what inspired them, and what the work meant
to them and their families — because it is in fact a family
Manuel Jimenez and his son Angelico were among the artists she taped.
The PDS grant also enabled her to make many slides and to purchase
about a dozen carved pieces which she brought back to the school.
The following year, PDS art teachers in all three divisions
the Mexican works into their curricula.
Next came a school trip, during spring break, 1997, when Kurtz
to Oaxaca with a group of 15 students and PDS photography teacher
Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick. The students studied language, culture,
and photography. Kurtz has returned to the region eight times, alone
and with student groups. She has also hosted three Mexican ceramicists
She says Jimenez will work with PDS classes in all age
group divisions, demonstrating the arts of carving and painting. Some
classes will look at esthetics, others for the cultural context, she
explains. She says all age groups will look at the work to better
understand the nature of the artistic process.
"It’s very clear from what people have told me that the folk arts
come from villages in rural Mexico whose families were unable to
themselves by working the land. And the success of this work, most
of which is sold to tourists and foreign collectors, has made it
for the carvers to educate and clothe and feed their families, to
build homes for themselves, to significantly improve their standard
Well aware of the importance of the folk art movement to the national
economy, the Mexican government is an active sponsor of the arts,
organizing training workshops, contests, and exhibitions.
Even though the successful artisans have televisions, fax machines,
and satellite dishes, most choose to stay where they are. "They
keep their connection to their families and their land," says
Kurtz, "and that’s what nurtures the work."
Now Kurtz is preparing for a second sabbatical, in 2001, when she
plans to return to Oaxaca and conduct extensive interviews with the
wood carvers and their families. "I’m going to choose about six
families, who represent a diversity of styles. My hope is to write
a book that will offer portraits of the artists in their own
Her artist-focused book will be illustrated with photographs and
in a bilingual edition.
"I believe that a work of art, just like a language, is a way
of looking at the world," says Kurtz. "When students encounter
these works, they are able to experience another way of seeing."
— Nicole Plett
The Great Road, 609-924-6700, ext. 415. Three-day demonstration and
sale by Armando Jimenez begins Thursday, February 24, 7:30 to 9:30
p.m. Also Friday, February 25, 2:30 to 8:30 p.m., and
February 26, 2 to 5 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.
Landscapes and cityscapes in oil by Ken McIndoe. Open during school
hours, to March 19. The British-born artist has lived in the area
for many years and show extensively both here and in New York.
an instructor at the Art Students League in New York, he has also
given landscape workshops in Ireland, Alaska, New York state, and
In the Merwick unit library: "Paintings of Fred and Jennie
to March 9. Part of proceeds benefit the Medical Center. Open 8 a.m.
to 7 p.m. daily.
"International Print Show" with abstract collographs by Brenda
Hartill, wood engravings by Peter Lazarov, and figurative etchings
by Max Werner. Schmitz. 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
are featured in a group exhibition, "Outlook: Views of
All three artists have been working with aspects of nature, in
mediums, and with different points of view. Shellaby and Vaughan are
long-time members of the Stuart faculty. This is the inaugural show
for Land, who moved to Princeton from Northern California, and teaches
Lower School art. To February 28.
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
5 p.m. Website at www.wmgallery.com.
609-397-0275. "Life Lines," an exhibition of 20 works by Joy
Kreves that investigate the path of human consciousness as it
through history and across culture. Monday to Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.;
Friday 1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To March 25.
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.
The gallery celebrates its fourth year and a new exhibition season
featuring 12 gallery co-op members presenting shows that change
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.
A show of witty three-dimensional constructions by Ted Crane continues
through February. Crane is a member of the Class of 1945 at Princeton
University and a self-trained artist; he is publisher of the Begell
House. Shop hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday,
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
609-620-6026. "The Hand of Man: Prehistoric Cave Art," an
exhibit of silkscreen prints by Douglas Mazonowicz. To February 29.
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; except Wednesday and Saturday,
9 a.m. to noon; closed noon to 1 p.m. daily.
Featuring color and black-and-white photographs by Harry Rubel who
has been making photographs for 45 years. Also, works by area artists
Patrice Sprovieri, Wayne Mathisen, Annelies van Dommelen, and Susan
Setteducato. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
to 9 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Out of the Blue," an exhibition of new
paintings by the physically challenged artists working with Artistic
Realization Technologies, the brainchild of artist Tim Lefens. Begun
with students of the Matheny School and Hospital, and now extended
to five New Jersey facilities, the artists use a laser pointer and
an able-bodied "tracker" to apply paint to canvas. The
writes Susan Abdulezer, are "canvases from students whose bodies
are frozen, but whose minds are volcanic." To February 26. Gallery
hours are Tuesdays to Saturdays, 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.
Using casts of real people, Kuby Netz cuts and welds sheet steel to
create life-size figures. These figures are activated by electric
motors, cams, gears, and chains that cause them to crawl, roll,
swing, and hit in repetitive, threatening and humorous ways.
609-737-7592. "Small Works of Nature," a juried group show
on natural themes. To March 25.
Contemporary Art by African-American Artists," an exhibition of
works in all media drawn primarily from the permanent collection.
The paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture on view reflect
a cross-section of concerts by such contemporary black artists as
Jean-Michel 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
Accra Shepp and Carla Williams, are Princeton graduates. To March
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. Gallery is open daily
from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays; weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Library Place, 609-497-7994. "The Transforming Fire: Clay Vessels
by Sasha and Susan Makovkin," functional and art pieces by the
California ceramicists, much of it related to ligurgical themes,
communion ware, sculpture, and murals. Their natural "ash
are highly prized. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to
9:30 p.m.; Saturday to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 9:30 p.m. To March 10.
Trenton, 609-394-4121. In the lobby gallery, a group show featuring
the works of the art faculty of Trenton public schools. To March 2.
Carter and Rosedale roads, 609-921-9000. "Angel Art" by
Pitak Davis. Show continues to March 26. Exhibit is open Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Plainsboro, 609-282-3401. A solo exhibition of sculpture and works
on paper by Eleanor Burnette. A graduate of Chicago State University,
and a former apprentice at the Johnson Atelier, her work has been
exhibited extensively, including a 20-year retrospective at Mercer
County College in 1997. To April 27.
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." 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. 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.
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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