Art by the River

Area Galleries

Art In Trenton

Area Museums

Corrections or additions?

This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the September 3,


issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Newtown First: A Gallery of Fine Art

An independent career in the arts can be a daunting

prospect. But Barbara Swanda, director of the newly launched Gallery

of Fine Art in Newtown, has found a way to make it work for her.

The Gallery of Fine Art was launched in July with a soft opening that

featured a well-attended community open house and an exhibition of

its stable of 12 area artists. The gallery is housed in the Bond


on South State Street, one of Newtown’s only two art deco buildings,

completed in 1921.

"Folks are excited that this gallery is here," says Swanda,

in a phone interview from the gallery. "They’re pleased that there

is finally a strictly fine art gallery in town. Their comments in

our guest book are extraordinary."

This week the gallery will celebrate the opening of its first fall

season with the exhibition "Home and Away, Photographs of


by David Graham. Graham is a Newtown resident and published


with a significant national reputation. The opening reception for

Graham’s show is Saturday, September 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., with an

artist’s gallery talk set for the following weekend, on Sunday,


14, at 2 p.m.

Graham’s work was featured in 2001 at the James A. Michener Museum

in Doylestown. His Newtown show features 24 color images from his

latest book, "Alone Together," a series of photographs about

Nan and Arthur Kellam, a couple who lived on a remote island off the

coast of Maine for 40 years. Now abandoned, the remnants of their

simple home and belongings are used to tell the story of their lives


"I am a photographer of the American cultural landscape in all

its nooks and crannies," writes Graham, who currently teaches

at the University of Arts in Philadelphia. "Whether it is a


a picture of a backyard, or a great sign someone has made, it all

fits together. The only thing, besides still lifes, that is barren

is the homogenized America that has been swept clean by corporate

America. I look for the spice and the difference."

The Gallery of Fine Art has about 2,000 square feet of gallery space

on two floors. The gallery is owned by James Steen, president of Acme

Design Group, a marketing and graphic design firm that has its offices

upstairs on the second floor. "The company has been in business

in Newtown for at least decade," Swanda explains. "As a


design entity, they’ve always wanted to complement their work with

fine art." The company recently purchased the building, renovated

the interior, and adapted it to professional and office space.


gallery is a great fit for street level retail," says Swanda.

Gallery director Swanda has been working with Acme since

January developing the gallery design, graphics, and website


Featuring primarily two-dimensional works, she has a stable of a dozen

artists at present. They are Robert Beck, Tom Chesar, Anne Cooper

Dobbins, David Graham, Gordon Haas, Don Jordan, Pat Martin, Harry

Orlyk, Katharine Steele Renninger, Bob Richey, and Mavis Smith. She

also carries work by woodworking collaborators Susan Clark and William

Hoehne and ceramics by Don Jordan.

"I tried to get a broad range of styles and media, from realistic

to impressionistic to abstract," says Swanda. "I very much

want to show the wealth of talent that is in this region. Many of

our Bucks County and Hunterdon County artists are nationally and



Swanda grew up in northern New Jersey and graduated from Penn State

in 1979 with a degree in art history. She did some graduate work in

archaeology at Drew University before being recruited, through her

involvement in historic preservation, to work in downtown


She started her first company, Swanda Creative Services, three years

ago when she first took the plunge and became self-employed.

"I worked in the field of downtown revitalization for about 15

years, enjoyed it tremendously, and learned about economic development

and promotion," she says. "After 15 years, I was ready to

get back into the arts."

In the mid-1980s, she began a three-year stint working for the Main

Street program in Arkansas during the Clinton governorship. "It

was a great time to be working there," she says, adding that she

found the future president "very charismatic and also very


In 1989 she returned to her home state to become state coordinator

for Main Street New Jersey. She settled in Newtown, an easy commute

to Trenton, and worked for the Trenton-based program for over 11


In an unusual and helpful twist to her entrepreneurial

instincts, Swanda opened a picture framing studio in her home in the

early 1990. "It was just as a part time activity — I needed

a non-cerebral creative outlet," she says. When she became


in 2000, she launched her creative services business and also


her framing business.

"It was definitely scary — especially when you’re dependent

on a sole income," says Swanda, who is divorced. "But if I

were to think about this and plan it out rationally, I probably would

have been terrified. But it was a time in my life, in terms of my

career and my personal life and my desire to get back to the things

that mattered to me — this was the time to try it."

"Was I awake night worrying about paying the mortgage? —


says Swanda with a flourish. Other services she had always taken for

granted — dental appointments and medical insurance — were

put off.

With its large corner location, she hopes the Gallery of Fine Art

will serve as a retail anchor for south end of State Street.


is a very pedestrian town. It still has a very strong sense of


Having an economically viable downtown has remained very important

to me," she says. "People here walk constantly and we still

have a downtown hardware store. There’s a bookstore and natural foods

market and now Starbucks has become a gathering point downtown."

"I’ve always had a gut feeling that this was a niche in Newtown

that was not being tapped, or not being tapped fully. There are a

wealth of art buyers in the area and some wonderful art


she says.

"There’s a lot of expense and worry, and it’s a 24/7 job,"

says Swanda. "And if someone had told me that 20 years ago, I

wouldn’t have believed the. But when it’s something your heart is

in, it’s a different perspective. Your job becomes more part of your

life. It feels more natural. It blends. And I’m much happier."

— Nicole Plett

David Graham , Gallery of Fine Art, 201 South State

Street, Newtown, 215-579-0050. Opening reception

for "Home and Away, Photographs of Maine" by David Graham.

Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday to

9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. A gallery talk and book signing

will take place Sunday, September 14, at 2 p.m. Show continues to

October 12. Free. Saturday, September 6, 5 to 8 p.m.

Top Of Page
Art by the River

Artists’ Gallery , 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville,


"Alternate Dimensions" featuring recent two and


works by Bob Baum and B.A. Keogh. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To September 7.

Atelier Gallery , 108 Harrison Street, Frenchtown,


"Paintbox Summer," a solo show of oil paintings by Lisa Mahan.

Open Thursday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To September 28.

Using sensuous colors and a painterly style, Mahan prefers to work

directly from life in natural life. She enjoys the challenge of


the fleeting light that plays on a subject and the effect of light

on color. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Fine Arts, she

has worked as a graphic designer and an art director for House


and Colonial Homes magazines.

Coryell Gallery , 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville,


Annual summer group show of watercolors, acrylics, oils, pastels,

and prints. Featured artists include Joanne Augustine, Albert Bross,

Marge Chavooshian, Tom Chesar, Mike Filipiak, Charles and Lucy


Robert Sackson, with pottery by Katherine Hackl and Ann Tsubota. Open

Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To September 28.

Howard Mann Art Center , 45 North Main Street,


609-397-2300. "Salvador Dali: Illustrations for Dante’s Divine

Comedy," 100 woodblocks created in the 1960s. Wednesday through

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Louisa Melrose Gallery , 41 Bridge Street, Frenchtown,

908-996-1470. "Summer Scapes," a summer show of landscapes,

seascapes, and urban scapes by artists from New Jersey and


Photographs by Nancy Ori and Laura Zito are included in the roster

of invited artists. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday

and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To September


Papier Sun Art Gallery , 39 North Main Street,


609-397-9022. Artist and favorite son John McDowell Williams returns

to Lambertville to take over the front gallery at Papier Sun Fine

Art with a show of watercolors and oils. Regular gallery hours are

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Peggy Lewis Gallery , Lambertville Public Library, 6 Lilly

Street, 609-397-0275. "Seasons of Trees," a watercolor show

by Kim Moulder. A graphic designer and potter, Moulder is a member

of Artsbridge of Delaware Valley. Gallery hours are Monday to


1 to 9 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To

September 12.

New Hope Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition , Union Square, West

Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-3396. Sculpture exhibition features

the outdoor installation of seven large-scale works at sites around

town. Host sites include Union Square, New Hope Solebury Library,

the Wedgwood Inn, New Hope Historical Society, Golden Door Gallery,

and New Hope Mule Barge. On view to spring, 2004.

Riverrun Gallery , 287 South Main Street, Lambertville,

609-397-3349. Solo show by photographer Frank (Rip) Atanasio, "The

Illustrated Photograph: Constructing Pictures Both in and Out of the

Camera." His color prints are images are either captured or


by the lens, sometimes with multiple transparencies. Daily, 10 a.m.

to 5 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesday. To September 8.

Born in Brooklyn in 1952, Atanasio was trained in graphics and


and worked for many years in the graphics industry. "I love to

observe life," he says, "and these photos illustrate the


moments I have witnessed. The images are about seeing, composition,

and painting with the camera. They are about looking past the


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Area Galleries

Grounds for Sculpture , 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Seasonal outdoor sculpture exhibition features the


Sculpture Center’s first juried exhibition selected by artist Helen

Escobedo, curator Stephen Nash, and critic Carter Radcliffe. New


outdoors by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Benbow Bullock, Ron Mehlman, and

Pat Musick. Shows continue to September 28.

Grounds for Sculpture is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9

p.m., year round. Adult admission is $4 Tuesday to Thursday; $7 Friday

and Saturday; and $10 on Sunday.

Toad Hall Shop & Gallery , Grounds for Sculpture, 60 Ward

Avenue, Mercerville, 609-689-1089. Barbara Schaff, paintings of


To September 14.

Morpeth Gallery , 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell,


Shared show features "Patterns of Resistance," oil and


paintings by David Ambrose, and "Drawn by Egypt," works in

oil stick and pastel by Susan Osgood. Gallery is open Tuesday through

Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Artists’ reception is Friday, September

12, for the show that runs to September 30.

Washington Township Arts Council , Washington Township

Utilities Office, Route 130, just south of Route 33, 609-259-3502.

Fifth annual art exhibit, juried by artist Marge Chavooshian,


to October 25. Exhibit is on display Mondays to Fridays from 8:30

a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum , Cadwalader Park,


TAWA Open 2003, a group show of members’ work selected by E. Carmen

Ramos, assistant fine arts curator at the Newark Museum. Eric


work "Light Source," an iris giclee print of an original


wins Best in Show. Juror’s Choice Awards go to works by Connie Gray,

Bill Hogan, Don Jordan, Michelle Soslau, and Maggie Zullinger. Open

Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To



RF Gallery , 46 West Lafayette, Trenton, 609-695-0061.

Regional artists, paintings, photography, and sculpture.

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Area Museums

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

609-292-6464. "The Needle’s Eye: Needlework from the Museum


featuring quilts, samplers, clothing, and needlework made in New


from the mid-18th to the early 20th century; on view to September


Also "The Ones That Didn’t Get Away! Fossil Fish from the New

Jersey State Museum," featuring the skull of a massive ancient

predatory fish, Dunkleosteus, known as the "Bulldog Fish"

of the Chalk Seas. Show is organized by David Parris, curator of


History. On extended view. "Cultures in Competition: Indians and

Europeans in Colonial New Jersey," a show that traces the impact

of European settlement on the native Indians’ way of life after 1600.

Also "Art by African-Americans: A Selection from the


"New Jersey’s Native Americans: The Archaeological Record;"

"Delaware Indians of New Jersey;" "The Sisler Collection

of North American Mammals;" "Of Rock and Fire;"


Architects;" "The Modernists;" "New Jersey Ceramics,

Silver, Glass and Iron;" "Historical Archaeology of Colonial

New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

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