Corrections or additions?
This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the August 21, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Newark’s Treasure Trove
First, is a word that crops up often, and positively,
in the history of the Newark Museum. This institution was the first
in the country to present exhibitions of industrial design and folk
art. And it was among the first to acquire works by contemporary artists,
African-American artists, photographers, and folk artists.
And while "first" is first, "largest" is the word
that follows as runner-up. The Newark Museum is the largest in the
state. Citing just one example of its stellar holdings, the museum’s
world-renowned Tibetan collection is said to be unrivaled in both
its depth and scope (U.S. 1, November 24, 1999).
Founded in 1909 by John Cotton Dana, a New Englander by birth who
was then director of the Newark Public Library, the museum was chartered
to collect and exhibit "articles of art, science, history, and
technology." Dana did not want to build an insular "temple
of art;" he held that when museums concentrated on the old, the
rare, and the expensive, they turned people off.
A museum, he believed, should be a useful place engaged in the life
of its community. Accordingly, the Newark Museum began by emphasizing
education and community outreach; today, it offers a classic museum
panoply of collections, exhibitions, and information — from the
numismatic collection to Tibet, from a planetarium to a sculpture
garden. This diversity assures something for everyone.
The Newark Museum consists of three floors in three "separate
but connected" buildings, one of them originally the home of Jeannette
and John Holme Ballantine, of the well-known brewing family. Built
in 1885, the brick and limestone mansion originally had 27 rooms.
Two floors, with eight period rooms and six galleries, are now open
to the public (as the museum’s decorative arts building). An addition
to the back of the house to accommodate American art became the "north
wing," site of painting and sculpture of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The "main building" on campus, built in 1926 by retailer Louis
Bamberger to house the museum, sits between the "south wing"
(erected in 1912 as a YMCA and appropriated by the museum in the early
80s) and the Ballantine House. Behind the south wing and main building
is the museum garden, an urban greensward boasting a giant copper
beech tree and dotted with contemporary sculpture. Both a fire museum
and a 1784 schoolhouse are located here too, and the garden hosts
such events as the popular summer jazz concerts.
Here and there during its history, the Newark Museum’s "community"
has encompassed Princeton. Its four-year renovation and expansion
that resulted in 60,000 square feet of facilities was designed by
renowned Princeton-based architect Michael Graves; it opened in 1989
and in 1992, Graves’ work won him the honor award from the American
Institute of Architects. Graves also supervised the reinstallation
and reinterpretation of the museum’s American art collection as "Picturing
America," providing new lighting and bold color.
A more recent Princeton connection at the Newark Museum
is the current, reprise exhibition of their works interpreting Homer’s
"Odyssey" by members of the Princeton Artists Alliance. It
opened July 31 and runs through October 27, with an artists reception
set for Sunday, September 8, 2 to 4 p.m.
Originally a resoundingly successful show curated by Pamela V. Sherin
at Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1999, it displays the 25 artist-members’
multi-media reactions to their reading of Robert Fagles’ then-new
translation of Homer’s epic poem. This time around, the exhibition
also includes a ceramic work by Shellie Jacobson and a digitally imaged
inkjet print by Ruane Miller, two artists who joined the group since
the first exhibition.
The Newark Museum may well be the state’s largest, but its configuration
suggests intimacy. Sweeping white-walled galleries are not part of
the picture at this institution; much smaller rooms with colored walls
are the norm, and in the "Picturing America" wings, this practice
reaches its zenith. Some of its galleries began life as storage areas
and were reincarnated through Graves’ design. Thus, their more modest
scale, which seems just right for the many sections and multi-colors
of the walk through American art history.
And walking is comfortable here. The floors look to be, and feel like,
"givey" tile. On one of the hottest days of summer, climate
control was just that: controlled. Signage throughout the Newark Museum
is pointed and readable. And finally, on the subject of housekeeping,
the cafe offers a short list of adequate-plus soups, sandwiches, brownies,
and beverages. Lunchers can munch in high-ceilinged splendor near
the museum shop (displaying beautiful Tibetan rugs when we visited)
and the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to September 11, 2001, which
will be in place through September 15 in the cafe’s usual space.
In the side-by-side Native American and African exhibitions, objects
appear in large, recessed alcoves with lighting that effectively obviates
that common museum malady: straining and squinting to read signs.
A painted buffalo hide suggests the size and grandeur of the beast
as well as the skill of the crafter. Near a late-19th-century vest
of hide and beads, a sign reminds us that "American Indians did
not have a word for art, since their art appeared on functional objects,
such as clothing, and was tightly woven into their daily lives."
The third floor of the north wing (behind the Ballantine House) is
home to Newark’s Asian galleries, featuring its Tibetan collection.
In November, the museum will open a new, $13 million science gallery.
Possibly the jewel in the crown of the Newark Museum — or at least
the latest jewel there — is the 32,000 square foot "Picturing
America" exhibition. In 2001, the museum unveiled the new installation
of its outstanding American art collection — some 350 paintings,
sculpture and decorative art objects spanning 250 years — shown
in two dozen galleries on two floors, and reflecting the belief that
objects from the collection, taken together, tell a story. The ballyhoo
For those who like their art in the context of its time, the approach
to "Picturing America" is reminiscent of the year-long exhibition,
"The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000" at New York’s
Whitney Museum of American Art in 1999-2000 (U.S. 1 August 18, 1999,
and January 5, 2000). It includes helpful, graphic time lines that
show concurrent events, and a la the Whitney, music of the time playing
in the stairwell between floors.
Painted lemon yellow, the introductory gallery includes just enough
to stimulate: a few works of art excerpted from different periods
in the collection, with pertinent accompanying text. The 10-minute
video is viewer-friendly: well done and once more, just enough.
After that, every gallery is a different period color and in some,
the works are displayed in ways to suggest the time when the art was
made or displayed — the densely installed Gilded Age gallery,
for instance, suggests an opulent sitting room. Another room is hung
with work by many of the artists who exhibited at Alfred Stieglitz’s
groundbreaking "291" New York gallery early in the 20th century.
As for highlight works in "Picturing America," you get the
idea that virtually everything there is a highlight. John Singleton
Copley’s amazing colonial "Portrait of Mrs. Joseph Scott"
immortalizes the rich silk dress and other finery of his "American
aristocrat." The landscape section includes both East Coast images
from the Hudson River School and scenes of the American West. Paintings
by Bierstadt and Moran, and stunning large-scale photographs by Carleton
Watkins join Native American works that offer contrasting views of
the sublime in nature.
(Through August 25, you can also see "American Sublime: Epic Landscapes
of Our Nation, 1820-1880" at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine
Arts, Philadelphia. This exhibition, highly praised since its June
15 opening, expands on Newark’s landscape section, and the convergence
of its works in such an appropriate setting may be a once-in-a-lifetime
Newark’s mix of "fine art" with Native American art and folk
art, together with furniture and industrial design, is both true to
life and enjoyable. One example: Hiram Powers’s classic sculpture,
"The Greek Slave," stands in the same position in the 19th
century galleries as that taken in the 20th century galleries by "Captain
Jinks of the Horse Marines" (attributed to Thomas J. White), a
painted wooden cigar-store figure.
Dominating the "City and Modernism" gallery, Joseph Stella’s
five-panel landmark work, "The Voice of the City of New York Interpreted"
sweepingly suggests both the architecture of Italian altarpieces and
the jeweled effect of stained glass. Sculptor Duane Hanson’s last
work, "Man on a Mower," is a sad, life-like and life-sized
man who holds a can of diet soda as he rides his mower toward mortality.
Toward the end of this walk through American art history — the
part that will change most often as new contemporary art comes along
— came this happy sighting: a hanging wall cabinet by Bucks County’s
master woodworker, George Nakashima (U.S. 1, May 3, 2000).
Two of the exhibition’s many surprises are the marble busts by Edmonia
Lewis (born 1843), the earliest known "woman sculptor" of
Native American and African-American heritage. Hers is a new name
to conjure with. Which suggests still another word that applies to
the Newark Museum: "surprising." That it certainly is, and
very pleasantly so.
— Pat Summers
Website: www.NewarkMuseum.org. Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5
p.m.; Thursday till 8:30 p.m. Admission free. Opening reception for
Princeton Artists Alliance `Odyssey’ show is Sunday, September
8, 2 to 4 p.m.
Attended parking available. To reach the Newark Museum by public transportation
from the Princeton area, take New Jersey Transit to Newark’s Penn
Station, and from there you can take a No. 76 bus, a cab, or walk.
(The city’s free shuttle bus to cultural sites runs only for evening
performances and special events.)
Summer group exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture, 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 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.
Art of the Caribbean diaspora. Gallery hours Friday and Saturday,
1 to 6 pm, and "by chance or by appointment."
Jazz and celebrity paintings by James Lucas of Cranbury. To September
Eastern Perspective: Windows to a Vibrant Culture II," a show
featuring contemporary prints from Japan by Susumu Endo, Yoshikatsu
Tamekane, Reiko Fujinami, and Hamanishi Katsunori. Open Friday, Saturday,
and Sunday, from 1 to 7 p.m. To August 23.
Deities, and Sages in Chinese Painting," to September 1. "Photographs
from the Peter C. Bunnell Collection," to October 27. "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," extended to September 29.
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," an exhibition
of 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 October 11.
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. 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.
Studio and gallery of William B. Hogan, watercolors, acrylics, and
bas-reliefs; and wife and fellow-artist Susan W. Hogan, oils, mixed-media,
and ceramics. Open Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
609-397-0275. Paintings and monoprints by Laura Blasenheim, an artist
who began her career in the arts more than 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
"Fruit, Butterflies and Reptiles," oil paintings by John Murdoch
and James Freeman. Murdoch is a graduate of the American Academy of
Art in Chicago; Freeman graduated from the Savannah College of Art
and Design. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m. To September 1.
609-397-2226. Solo exhibition of watercolors by Yardley artist Jo-Anne
Annual summer group show by more than a dozen artists that highlights
works by the nationally-recognized Trenton-born artist and muralist
Charles William Ward (1900-1962). Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to
5 p.m. To September 8.
609-397-7774. Ninth annual Discoveries Exhibition featuring 100 limited
edition and individual jewelry pieces in gold, sterling, and fine
metals with precious and semi-precious stones and gems. Artists include
Karen Bachmann, Sarah Mann, Donna D’Aquino, Margaret Ellis, and Debra
Lynn Gold. Open 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.
908-996-1470. "Abstractions and Reflections," a show by area
artists 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.
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 show of new paintings by Ron English,
Dalek, and Lisa Petrucci. Thursday through Monday, noon to 7 p.m.
To September 30.
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.
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. 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 exhibition of 13 works
from the recent acquisition of 40 prints by the self-taught Bucks
County photographer, to October 6.
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 through 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
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.
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 the Delaware."
Trenton, 609-394-9535. Watercolors by Sandra Nusblatt are on display
in the cafe gallery. Born and raised in Trenton, she lives in Lawrenceville.
Commissioned in 1998 to paint a watercolor of Drumthwacket, she enjoys
house and porch scene portraits. Sales benefits New Jersey State Museum.
To September 9.
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.
East, Plainsboro, 609-452-7800. Solo exhibition or paintings and prints
by Plainsboro resident Donna Senopoulos. Through August 30.
Road, 609-921-3272. "September 11 Quilts: An exhibition of memorial
art quilts" curated by Drunell Levinson of New York. Gallery hours:
Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To
The Manhattan-based quilt project, founded by Drunell Levinson and
sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, makes a stop at
the center as part of a national tour. The quilt memorial is intended
to provide people from all over the world with a way to mourn the
September 11 tragedies.
Summer group show. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Suite 208, Morrisville, 215-295-8444. "The Late George Ivers:
Celebrating His Life in Art," an exhibition of prints, etchings,
and engravings by the Polish-born artist who began work as a designer
for Lenox China in 1950. Art director for Cybis Porcelain until his
retirement in 1986, he died in 2001. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday,
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. To August 31.
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.
"One Woman’s One Man Show," an exhibit of sculpture and photography
by Linda Ogden. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. To August 29.
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.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.