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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

at PDS.

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

of living."

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

Armando Jimenez, Princeton Day School, Theater


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.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street,


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.

The Gallery at Chapin School, 4101 Princeton Pike,


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

New Jersey.

Medical Center at Princeton, Witherspoon Street,


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.

Pringle International Art, 8 Chambers Street,


"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.

Stuart Country Day School, Norbert Considine Gallery,

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.

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


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

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Other Galleries

ABC Gallery, Lambertville Public Library, 6 Lilly Street,

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.

The Artful Deposit, 201 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown,

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.

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown,


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.

Hopewell Frame Shop, 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell,


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.

Lawrenceville School, Gruss Center of Visual Arts,


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.


Main Street Gallery, Montgomery Center, Route 206, 609-683-8092.

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.

Montgomery Cultural Center, 1860 House, 124 Montgomery

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.

Morpeth Gallery, 18 North Main Street, Pennington,


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.

Plainsboro Public Library, 641 Plainsboro Road,


"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

February 29.

Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, 609-895-5464.

"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.

Stony Brook Millstone Watershed, 31 Titus Mill Road,


609-737-7592. "Small Works of Nature," a juried group show

on natural themes. To March 25.

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Art On Campus

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


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.

Bernstein Gallery, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton


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.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

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.

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Art in the Workplace

Capital Health System, Mercer Campus, 446 Bellevue Avenue,

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.

Educational Testing Service, Conant Hall Lounge Gallery,

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.

Merrill Lynch Financial Center, 800 Scudders Mill Road,

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.

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

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.

Summit Bancorp Gallery, 301 Carnegie Center at Route 1,

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.

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Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park,


"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.

Extension Gallery, 60 Ward Avenue, Mercerville,


"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.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

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.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

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 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."

Rhinehart-Fischer Gallery, 46 West Lafayette, Trenton,

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.

Top Of Page
To the North

Museum of the American Hungarian Foundation, 300 Somerset

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.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New

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.

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Other Museums

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


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: 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

February 27.

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Art by the River

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville,


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.

Howard Mann Art Center, 45 North Main Street,


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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