Corrections or additions?
This review by Pat Summers was prepared for the August 9, 2000
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Paper, Ubiquitous & Artful
From China around 200 A.D., when paper was first made,
to Route 1, Princeton, 2000 A.D., where handmade paper in varied
and beautiful artistic incarnations is being exhibited. In between
those two dates: a multitude of discoveries and inventions and
for paper, which has been called one of the most ubiquitous substances
At first, paper was a utilitarian material, whose labor-intensive
production was based on beating such vegetable materials as mulberry
bark into pulp, then forming sheets, which were dried and used in
a variety of ways. The noting and recording functions initially made
possible by paper quickly expanded to encompass art and literature,
besides countless other more prosaic uses. Consider how paper
our lives now. Open the kitchen cupboard, stocked with paper
Read a newspaper, a magazine, a book. Write a check or a letter, then
put it in an envelope, affix a stamp, and mail it. Build a model
or fly a kite. Buy a lampshade. Wear a straw hat you can crush and
pack in a suitcase.
In 19th-century America, with the coming of industrial paper
the hand manufacture of paper waned, and wood pulp, far cheaper than
cotton or linen rags, became its raw material. Ironically, possible
paper applications expanded exponentially — just as much of its
beauty and unique qualities were lost. Not until the 1960s and ’70s,
when demand for special, textured paper surfaces arose once again,
did hand papermaking move back into the realm of craft. Then, paper
made the "old-fashioned way," in papermills founded for that
purpose, could be partnered with printmaking and other arts, enriching
their products with its own look and texture.
Only about 40 years ago, handmade paper transitioned from a support
material to a medium in its own right, as artists began serious
of its innate characteristics and potential. Used as a medium, paper
allows a visual artist to be expressive; no longer merely the passive
bearer of a message, the medium of paper is the message. Since
then, the products of hand papermaking have come to be regarded as
Both recent and current uses of handmade paper are extensively and
masterfully demonstrated by the four artists — Anita Benarde,
Margaret K. Johnson, Joan B. Needham, and Marie Sturken —
in "Handmade Paper Works" at the Summit Bancorp Gallery, on
Route 1 at Carnegie Center, through September 1.
Large and small; two, three, and in-between-dimensional; wall pieces,
floor pieces and work in boxes; pulp paintings and sculptures; flat
and textured work; minimalist and maximalist styles; suggestive and
explicit in tone: this really is a "really big show."
on how you count them, there are 50 works, give or take a few in the
show curated by Delann Gallery Domani. Not all the work is recent
(it couldn’t be), yet the show provides a comprehensive overview of
the many ways handmade paper becomes art.
And the Summit setting accommodates a lot of art, comfortably. First,
there’s the lobby, then a long hallway wall, which is opposite angled
walls forming alcoves for both wall and floor pieces. The only
in some lights, are spackle patches that stand out from the wall
Walking into the Summit Bank lobby, one quickly encounters Joan B.
Needham’s "Six Ceremonial Posts," each one 7 to 10-feet tall,
and all looking like weathered bronze monoliths from a far-off
Tapering to a long, pointed top, each sculpture has ridged supporting
rings at intervals, a width and tilt of its own, and different-sized
openings — slits, windows, or cells — in its surface.
Open-ended and actually lightweight, these columns are, the artist
notes, constructed much like a racing shell, something she as a rower
is familiar with. Reed and rattan are basic ingredients, as are
modeling paste, wooden rods, and waxed flax. The dried-pulp surfaces
are finely speckled with colors, and grouped as they are, the posts
resemble tall, exotic members of a welcoming committee for the
They also provide a dramatic idea of the lengths — and heights
— to which handmade paper can go.
After years as a printmaker, working on paper, Needham says she
longer wanted to work on the surface; I wanted to work into
it," and texture was increasingly important to her. She decided
to study papermaking with one of the pioneers in the field, Laurence
Barker (currently recognized as such in the "Paper Trail"
exhibition at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick
that runs through August 12). In the early ’80s, Needham spent three
papermaking months in Barcelona, and came home a believer, seeking
converts and eager to change her own papermaking world.
Besides starting a handmade paper course at Mercer County Community
College, where she still teaches art, she also talked up the idea
of hand papermaking to her artist friends — including colleagues
in this exhibition. Anita Benarde, then a printmaker and painter,
remembers Needham’s animation even now, and Marie Sturken used
"Spanish paper" for the printmaking she was doing at the time.
Before long, Needham had introduced them to Dieu Donne, the now-famous
New York City papermill, and the innumerable ways it facilitates hand
papermaking as an art form. Together and separately, the artists have
gone there ever since. Many of the pieces in the Summit show were
made at Dieu Donne by the "four (papermaking) amigas."
Needham’s other work with handmade paper includes two of her hanging
"Tapestries," deeply red and marvelously textured, and
a two-part, black wall sculpture, as well as a number of
works, in dark, rocky hues — colored paper pulp, remember —
reminiscent of her visits to the American Southwest. Also a welder
who works with found objects, Needham says her habit of thinking as
a sculptor contributed to creation of her totems.
Anita Benarde’s blues are memorable hues — partly
because they often contrast with more muted shades in her
paper paintings. Her large "Mainspring" features calligraphic
shapes that include a large, red-toned character, swimming in those
distinctive blues. It’s impossible to miss and impossible to give
it short shrift.
Benarde’s distinctive palette, coupled with her interest in
yields "Manhatten" (sic), for which she hand-sprayed
pulp, creating a stucco-y surface spotted with random blue bursts
and an un-Manhattan-shaped colored continent in the middle. In
among more deserty hues achieved partly through embedded sheer
Japanese handmade paper, her irrepressible turquoise squiggles are
comparatively self-effacing, though no less appealing.
with both pale and bright blocky shapes amid soft clouds of color,
shows both geometric and colored-pulp paths, or passages, with
and direction provided by vertical strands of colored flax.
And now for something completely different, Benarde shows four framed
"Fiber Caps" — hub caps cast in pulp. "Early on,"
she says, "I made my own molds using clay and plaster, but I soon
learned that numerous found objects would make excellent molds, as
long as they contained no undercuts." Then, "the pulp, colored
or natural, could be pressed into the `mold’ and when dry it would
shrink away, making it relatively easy to lift out a unique work of
art." Of course, not every hub cap serves this purpose, but in
Benarde’s hands, those that do are abstracted to become striking wall
reliefs — often wholly unlike the initial found objects in
As is true with many printmakers and artists in general, Benarde is
always on the lookout for raw materials in the world around her.
While other artists might use oil or acrylic paints,
Marie Sturken uses paper pulp as the medium for her art. Mixing
with pulp, she paints with paper, often embedding in the pulp thin
sheets of washi onto which images of currency, letters,
and stamps have been lithographed or photocopied. She may use a hose
to blend colors and soften images, and the resulting handmade paper
composition is pressed and dried.
A couple of Sturken’s pieces include strips of balsa wood to which
paper strips covered with writing have been glued. Abaca, a kind of
hemp from the Philippines, is another element Sturken uses.
and filmy, it can low-key a color, add a fine layer to suggest one
illusory thing or another, and even help hold the elements of the
composition together. Sturken’s color-blocked works incorporate
string as a divider and a design element.
Replete with sea and seed imagery, her "Transformation" brings
together in one large work numerous allusions to sea life and
means, with an array of natural materials embedded in the colored
pulp. In other pieces here, Sturken has worked bigger and much more
elaborately, so that a few are in effect, two-dimensional-plus:
her materials may extend beyond the borders of her pulp paintings,
or push out from their surfaces.
A vivid little piece, "Ancient Markings II" illustrates
interests in color, texture, and ancient forms of writing that often
have calligraphic qualities. She describes this work as "a
with paper used in a printmaking way." Jewel-like hues, especially
an embedded sliver of hot pink silk, suggest a book or folded fabric,
on which one sees different symbols and scripts.
In her curator’s statement for "Paperwork: Pulp as Medium,"
a related exhibition last autumn at the College of New Jersey, Sturken
wrote a perfect patter song line: "Through manipulations, such
as beating, casting, embedding, embossing, folding, incising,
piercing, shredding, shrinking, slitting, spraying, stretching,
twisting, wrapping, and wrinkling, each artist has originated her
own combination of paper’s visual vocabulary . . . to voice her own
vision." Sung or not, this is true of this show also.
Illustrating her belief that paper is beautiful all by itself, and
her desire to "push the boundaries of paper," Margaret K.
Johnson is showing several wall pieces and three sculptural works
in this exhibition. Each one might be seen as a demonstration of a
different kind of paper manipulation. Embedding rusted wire in the
pulp let Johnson study its reaction to the papermaking process;
vellum caused surprising, and appealing, bulges to result; twisting
the fibers of Japanese handmade paper created prong or knife-like
effects. In "Relating," which features an implied exclamation
mark — a rectangle in shades of soft purple — she embedded
in her characteristically neutral-toned pulp pieces of colored,
Both her spare style and her penchant for allusive titles make
three sculptural paper works intensely interesting, and suggest layers
of possibilities. "Suspense" looks like a few unconnected
walls, some cut-out windows, and a partial staircase that has been
cut from and folds back into a wall. Who can access the stairs, and
where do they lead? Like "Suspense," both "Evolving
and "Window to a Thought" involve simple-seeming folded sheets
of washi. Windows of different sizes in unexpected places,
and fibers twisted into symbolic barriers of prongs, or thorns, add
to the mystery.
Long a printmaker and originally a sculptor, Johnson was the last
of this quartet to move into hand papermaking, although she first
realized the inherent beauty of paper some time ago while living in
Prospective visitors to "Handmade Paper Works" should not
let themselves be distracted by papermaking terminology: abaca,
("koosh"), chine colle, and so on. It’s the same as
with painters’ lingo: gesso, scumble, and over-paint. The product
is the thing. And these artists use their tools and techniques —
they do pulp painting and sculpting — as artists in other mediums
do: to achieve a vision. So just concentrate on the vision.
— Pat Summers
1 at Carnegie Center, 609-799-6706. Group show featuring artists Anita
Benarde, Joan B. Needham, Marie Sturken, and Margaret Kennard Johnson,
curated by the Delann Gallery Domani. Exhibition is open Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Show continues through September 1.
"Art and the Female Form," a themed group exhibition of
sculpture, and works on paper by international artists. Women have
been a favored subject of artists for thousands of years, says guest
curator Megan Gorski, and this show illustrates the persistence of
this tradition in modern times. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday,
10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To August 30.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "Old Traditions, New Beginnings,"
a major exhibition celebrating 250 years of Princeton Jewish history,
jointly presented and exhibited at the Jewish Center of Princeton.
This is the first-ever exhibit on the history of Princeton’s Jewish
community, scheduled to coincide with the Jewish Center’s 50th
Topics addressed include early arrivals, family life, social
work and business pursuits, religious traditions, and anti-Semitism.
Dining room exhibit of watercolors by Princeton artist Elizabeth
Titled "Sojourn," she painted the series of works last year
on a journey through France’s Provence region. Part of proceeds
the Medical Center. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to September
Line Road, 609-252-6275. "Fragile Dependencies," a group
that takes a close look at delicate relationships in nature. Featured
artists are Joan Roth and Madelaine Shellaby of Princeton, Susan
of West Windsor, Simon Gaon, Lori Van Houten, Karon Moss, Michael
Zansky, and the late Rachel bas-Cohain. Gallery hours are Monday to
Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends and holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. To
"Space, Time, and Travel," an international show curated by
the Williams Gallery featuring painting by Tanya Kohn of Mexico,
prints by Yoshikatsu Tamekane of Japan, and etchings by Joerg
of Australia. Web site: www.wmgallery.com. Monday to Friday, 9
a.m. to 5 p.m. To September 1.
732-524-3698. An exhibition of bold drawings in colored marker by
Echo McCallister that mirrors the artist’s intense and complex life
experiences as a person with autism. Having spent a great portion
of his life in mental institutions, McCallister has earned a national
reputation as an emerging "Outsider Artist." His work is in
the collection of the National Art Exhibitions by the Mentally Ill;
to September 14. Also "Accumulative Strokes" by Tony Khawam,
to August 24. Free by appointment.
609-895-7307. "Shapes, Scenes, and Such," a display of artwork
by staff and family members of Stark & Stark. Also, a show of
by Trenton painter Marguerite Doernbach. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. To September 9.
by Barbara Bosworth," extended to September 3. Open Tuesday
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.
"A Century for the Millennium: 100 Treasures from the Collections
of the Princeton University Library," on view to November 5.
"TAWA Two Thousand," the annual members show juried by Kristen
Accola, exhibition director of the Hunterdon Museum of Art, featuring
more than 50 works by 30 artists. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11
a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 4 p.m. To September 24.
"Together By Chance," a group exhibition by apprentices of
the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture, featuring LaRue
Harding, James Love, Claudia Moore, Carey Netherton, Colleen
Catherine Perry, Chris Rothermel, and Natalie Tyler. Opening reception
is Saturday, August 12, for the show that continues to August 31.
Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
609-586-0616. Summer Exhibition features, in the Museum and Domestic
Arts Building, "Washington Sculptors Group," a juried
of 60 recent sculptures. On the Grounds, "Dana Stewart,"
mythical beasts in bronze from the New Jersey artist. New outdoors,
sculptures by Red Grooms, G. Frederick Morante, Kenneth Payne, and
Larry Young. To September 10.
609-292-6310. "Building a Collection: Fine Art at the New Jersey
State Museum," to August 20; "The Art of Jack Delano,"
to September 4. On extended view: "Of Rock and Fire;"
Crossing the Delaware;" "New Jersey and the Great Ice
"Dinosuar Turnpike;" "A Convocation of Eagles;" and
"Amber: the Legendary Resin." Tuesday through Saturday, 9
a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
609-695-0061. Group show of painting, sculpture, and photography by
area artists including Marge Miccio, Eric Fowler, Thom Reaves, Tom
Chiola, Marguerite Doernbach, Joseph Menna, and Erica Stanga.
to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
609-298-6970. On display and available for purchase, six works in
ceramics by the late James Colavita. Show features his "Portrait
of Susan," a tribute in ceramics to the artist’s wife. Thursday
through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.
"Reflections," a show of watercolors by Gail Bracegirdle and
students who include Kathy Siegfried, Stephanie Lin, Nancy Myers,
William McCarroll, Patrice Sprovieri, Anne S. Williams, and others.
To August 19.
Lawrenceville, 609-896-1611. Maxwell Nimeck, a retired microbiologist
and avid gardener, shows oil paintings on floral and landscape themes.
To August 29.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Summer Madness," works by members of
the Professional Artists Group. Part of sales benefit the 1860 House.
Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Show runs
to August 31.
Gallery owner Ruth Morpeth celebrates the opening of her new gallery
location with a group show, "Selected Works by Contemporary
Featured artists include Robert Beck, Micheal Madigan, Paul Mordelsky,
Betty Curtiss, Tomi Urayama, and Ann Ridings. Also Philadelphia area
artists David Shevlino and Christine Lafunente. Tuesday to Saturday,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
609-397-0804. The gallery celebrates its 20th annual Summer Exhibition
featuring gallery artists Augustine, Baumgartner, Bross, Ceglia,
Ermentrout, Farnham, Lennox, Chesar, Miller, Rinninger, Ross, Sakson,
Scott, Silvia, Van Hook, Von Betzen, Dellenbaugh, Douris, Tsubota,
and Watts. Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Show runs to September 30.
609-397-4590. Photographs by New Jersey multi-media artist Victor
Macarol whose work has been shown at the New Jersey State Museum,
Galerie Fink in Paris, and Galerie Mesmer in Basel, Switzerland. Open
Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To September 21.
609-397-1006. Seven-year retrospective of the Dutch-based Droog Design
company, edited by DMD for area interiors. Show remains on view,
through Monday, noon to 5 p.m., to August 16.
609-397-3939. Images from Robert Drapala’s new volume of photographs,
"Portrait of the Outer Banks," written by Torrey Kim. As a
licensed pilot, Drapala has spent two decades creating a portfolio
of aerial and group photographs of the region. Also on exhibit are
his images of the Delaware Valley including barns, churches, and
Gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to
4 p.m. To August 13.
Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "Then and Now: Recent Museum Acquisitions
of Art and Folk Art." To September 17. Donation $5. Museum hours
are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-932-2222, ext. 838. "The Paper Trail:
Douglass Howell and Four Pioneers in the Art of Handmade Paper,"
an exibition of works by contemporary artists working at the New
Dieu Donne Papermill and at the Rutgers Ceter for Innovative Print
and Paper. Galleries are open Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 1
to 8 p.m. To August 12.
The show begins with the work of Howell (1906-94) who transformed
handmade paper into an art form. The four pioneers who followed his
lead are his students Laurence Barker and Golda Lewis, and Walter
Hamady and Clinton Hill. Together their works illustrate the
era of sculptural forms, pigmented pulps, embedded materials, and
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. The 26th annual Members’ Juried
of monotypes, woodcuts, etchings, photographs, mezzotints, and
paper. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To August 26.
732-257-4340. The contemporary sculpture gallery’s "New Artists,
New Ideas, New Season" show, featuring work by more than 100
in natural outdoor installations. Featured artists include Sarah
Charles Welles, and Liz Whitney Quisgard. Gallery hours are Friday
to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.
215-340-9800. "John Goodyear: Thinking into Form, Works
a 50-year retrospective by the Lambertville-based conceptual artist,
curated by Henry Hose. Both painter and installation artist, Goodyear
taught at Rutgers from 1964 to 1997. The show highlights each period
of Goodyear’s career, and includes paintings, kinetic works, and
works from the "Heat Sculpture" series, "Death of
and "Earth Curve." To September 17.
Also an installation by Yardley sculptor Elizabeth Miller McCue
a life-size sculpture inspired by Monet’s famous "Haystacks"
series; to October 22. Also, "Sublime Servers: A Celebration of
Theatrical Possibilities at the Table," a cornucopia of expressive
ceramic sculpture and vessels by 30 artists, organized by the
Clayworks and curated by Gail M. Brown; to September 3.
Museum hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday &
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5 adults; $1.50 students; children free. Website:
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