Art in Town

Art On Campus

Art by the River

Art In Trenton

Art in the Workplace

To the North

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Pat Summers: Visual Resolutions

This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 6, 1999. All rights reserved.

It’s New Year’s, and the czarina in you wants to decide

what visual arts-related resolutions other people should make. You

know, the people who litter their front lawns with sheep figures in

graduated sizes — thoughtfully adding red bows for Christmas.

Clearly, they should resolve to junk up only the inside of their houses.

Or, since we’ve suffered a surfeit of them this season, the icicle

lights, often hanging from the most incongruous places, should be

discarded next year — though only after the perpetrators first

drop out of the straight-line school of outlining roof tops, fences,

or garages.

But the clueless people who practice tastelessness like this are the

least likely to resolve to change it. And, alas, it can’t be outlawed,

and they can’t be impeached.

Let’s see, New Year’s, time for reforms and resolutions, everyone

bright-eyed and eager "to make the world a better place in which

to live." Gee, in that case, any way to persuade art museums to

downsize the full-fledged souvenir stands that block the exits at

the end of major exhibitions these days? As the food sold at movies

makes more profit than the film, these museum concessions must be

wildly lucrative, on top of the services of brainstormers and shoppers

for anything remotely related to the subject ostensibly at hand: the

artist, the art.

But the rip-off piece de resistance for this year, and maybe

for all years, is a deceptively small and inexpensive item. It’s also

edible. A person could see the exhibition and buy it, or just buy

it — the museum wouldn’t mind — and justify the purchase by

eating the contents for lunch.

What is this all-purpose memento of (believe it or not) a major art

exhibition of a major artist in what regards itself as a major museum?

Why, a box of "Delacroix’s Animals Crackers." Get it?

Here’s how it works: Because Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) was intrigued

by animals, spent much time studying them at the zoo, saw them when

he visited North Africa, and (now we’re getting to it) even drew and

painted them. Now those marketing wizards at the Philadelphia Museum

of Art have designed a box covered with Delacroix images and nutrition

information (140 calories per 11-cookie serving). Then they displayed

pyramids of these boxes in the capacious gift area following the Delacroix

exhibition rooms, accompanied by a framed photograph of animal cracker

boxes, artfully arranged. Just $1.50 to say you’ve been there, eaten


And we’re not even mentioning mountains of Moroccan memorabilia ostensibly

from the Delacroix exhibition. Why incense burners, giant earthen

urns and vases, iron accessories, flowing dresses, and even carpets,

for goodness sake? Because Delacroix visited North Africa. Furthermore,

he painted its people and scenery. Isn’t that alone enough to account

for one glossy marketing type, touring the shop with a kindred spirit,

exclaiming over a particular fresh-made artifact that he wished he

had bought it himself. (Don’t forget this was the museum that produced

a baseball souvenir for its Cezanne show.)

So far from the home front, any idea of reforming this facet of the

art museum world is also in vain. It gets bigger and sillier. And

we haven’t even mentioned the catalog sales: big business.

Then how about the people who visit museums? Many of them are eminently

in need of reform, or at least their behavior cries out for it. Reflect

for a moment on the museum visitor who walks right between you and

a picture on the wall, and then stands there — obviously, you’re

completely invisible — to study it, wholly blocking your view.

But it’s New Year’s resolution time. What better occasion to eliminate

prevailing art world irritants, such as the following?

The Eager Eater: A hungry person with art connections

really could meal-plan through a season of openings and do at each

show what at least one artist in the U.S. 1 area is known for —

hold down a corner of the munchies table and never move, except possibly

to vary the grazing area. This gourmand tosses, "It’s unbelievably

rich," to the exhibiting artist, but only if s/he happens by the

food table.

The Dogmatic Docent: More than ready and willing, she’s

eager to display her knowledge, often of ephemera, basking all the

while in the exclamations prompted by her erudition.

The Big Talker: Everyone around this art history major

or docent-wannabe involuntarily hears the ongoing lecture, usually

laced with arcane art-babble having little or nothing to do with the

piece being described. And such people never know from sotto voce.

The Tireless Socializer: Like some patrons at trendy new

restaurants, this schmoozer comes to see and be seen at the opening,

with the art serving as merely a vehicle to carry her around the gallery.

But she reveals herself by looking over the shoulder of the person

she’s talking with, to line up her next target.

Are the people who do these boorish things susceptible to self-reform?

Probably no more than the front-lawn shepherds who, come spring, will

inevitably cart out their whirligig ducks with rotating wings.

Will art museums cut back on their revenues because a few of us look

at their bazaars askance? Sure — when mega-bookstores like Barnes

& Noble cut back their fad-book inventory because they care about

forests. Or mall stores close on Sundays and holidays.

Since even a czarina couldn’t change some things — take passe

big blue outdoor bulbs (please!) — or wind chimes that clang for

the neighborhood — and what’s now big and bad and rude in the

art world is likely to get bigger, badder and ruder, what’s a purist

to do? Think globally, act locally? How locally? And let’s be realistic,

how successfully, even there?

Or is it a purely personal thing? No wider in scope than periodic

venting, like this? Or strictly private resolutions to "deal with

it," somehow? Or a resolve to smile sweetly and point out the

error of others’ ways? And just how would they take the well-intentioned

observation? Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!

Another New Year — a million more reasons to change the world.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street, 609-497-7330.

The gallery specializes in original paintings, sculpture, drawings,

and prints by distinguished living artists. Special focus is on work

from Eastern and Central Europe, representing Georges Mazilu in the

U.S. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and

by appointment.

DeLann Gallery, Princeton Meadows Shopping Center, Plainsboro,

609-799-6706. Group show featuring oils and acrylics by Charles McVicker,

watercolors by Lucy Graves McVicker, and oils by Jan Purcell. Also

recent works by Sidney Neuwirth and Bob Justin. To February 12. Hours

are Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.;

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Firebird Gallery, 15 Witherspoon, 609-688-0775. An exhibition

of 16 original watercolors by the Russian-born illustrator Gennady

Spirin from his picture book, "The Christmas Story," just

published by Henry Holt. Just out, a 1999 calendar featuring an array

of plates from Spirin’s prize-winning books; books are available for

sale also. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.,

and by appointment.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158

Nassau, 609-921-6748. "Practical Photographers: The Rose Family

Studio," images from the collection of 10,000 glass plate negatives.

The Rose Studio was founded in Princeton in 1873 by Royal Hill Rose

whose commercial photography studio stood on Nassau Street through

three generations of family owners, until its closing in 1951. Museum

hours are Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Through February.

Medical Center at Princeton, Witherspoon Street, 609-497-4192.

Group exhibition by Watercolorists Unlimited. Part of sales benefit

the Medical Center. To January 14. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Merwick Unit, Medical Center at Princeton, Witherspoon

Street, 609-497-4192. Watercolors by Joan Quackenbush and Lorraine

Williams, with part of proceeds to benefit the Medical Center. To

March 11. Show can be viewed daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Princeton Jewish Center, 435 Nassau Street, 609-921-0100.

Marvin Friedman, an exhibition of the pictorial reminiscences of friends,

acquaintances, and family by the Princeton artist. Show continues

to February 15.

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Art On Campus

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

collection features a strong representation of Western European paintings,

old master prints, and original photographs. Collections of Chinese,

Pre-Columbian Mayan, and African art are considered among the museum’s

most impressive. Not housed in the museum but part of the collection

is the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of 20th-century outdoor

sculpture, with works by such modern masters as Henry Moore, Alexander

Calder, Pablo Picasso, and George Segal located throughout the campus.

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from

1 to 5 p.m. Tours every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Seeley Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University,

65 Olden Street, 609-258-6345. "Reflections on Photographing Princeton,"

a pictorial history from 1839 to the mid-20th century drawn from thousands

of images in the Historical Photograph Collection of the university

archives. To June 1999. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,

and Wednesday evenings until 8 p.m.

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Art by the River

ABC Gallery, Lambertville Public Library, 6 Lilly Street,

609-397-0275. "Lisa Manheim: Landscapes from Devon and Provence,"

an exhibition of paintings on paper in wax and pigment made during

1989 and ’90. To January 9. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday,

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


Canal Frame-Crafts, 1093 General Greene Road, Washington

Crossing, 215-493-3660. Works in oils, watercolors, pastel, and colored

pencil by Robert J. Seufert and Alice Olson Seufert. Hours are Tuesday

to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday to 7 p.m.

Haas Gallery, 71 Bridge Street, Lambertville, 609-397-7988.

"L’Exhibition Francais," a three-man exhibition of images

of France by painter Gordon Haas, photographer Owen Luck, and French

watercolorist Herve-Paul Delhaye. To January 13.

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Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park, 609-989-3632.

"Collectors of African-American Art," featuring painter and

photographer Edward Wilkerson, with works by Wendell Brooks, Tom Malloy,

Harri Hawkins, Ben Jones, Karl Slocum, Alonzo Adams, and Aundreta

Wright. To February 28.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition: "Glass: A Group Exhibition,"

indoors, with works by Robert Dane, Stephen Knapp, Ron Mehlman, Mary

Shaffer, and Joy Wulke. In the Domestic Arts building, photographer

Ricardo Barros exhibits a portfolio of 36 black-and-white portraits

of working sculptors. New additions outdoors by Fletcher Benton, James

Colavita, Tim Holland, Luis Jimenez, William King, Joel Perlman, Tom

Phardel, and Robert Ressler. To February 28.

The 22-acre landscaped sculpture park is on the former state fairgrounds

site, with indoor exhibitions in the glass-walled, 10,000 square foot

museum, and the newly-renovated Domestic Arts Building. Gallery hours

are Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

609-292-6464. "Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art About the

Holocaust," to February 28. "The American Modernists,"

to January 23. "Nikon’s Small World," to January 17. On extended

view: "Dinosaur Turnpike: Treks through New Jersey’s Piedmont";

"Amber: The Legendary Resin"; "The Moon: Fact & Fiction."

Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday,

noon to 5 p.m.

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Capital Health System, 446 Bellevue Avenue, Trenton, 609-394-4095.

In the lobby gallery, wall quilts by fiber artist Jeannette T. Muir

who gathers inspiration from sources that include mathematics and

architecturaal magazines, calalogues, mosaics, and floor designs.

To February 5.

Johnson & Johnson Worldwide, North Building, Skillman,

732-524-6957. An exhibit of 25 recent black-and-white photographs

by Bill Gregory. Subjects range from the western American landscape

to such local views as Kopp’s Cycle Shop, Terhune Orchards, and South’s

Garage. On view, by appointment, through January 31.

Gregory’s photographs have been featured in solo exhibitions at the

Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow Wilson School and at Cameron Gallery.

He has been published in Garden State Home & Garden, the Times of

Trenton, and Central New Jersey Home News.

Top Of Page
To the North

American Hungarian Foundation, 300 Somerset Street, New

Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "Suzanne Szasz: Her Life and Photographs."

Born in Hungary in 1915, Szasz began her career in the U.S. in 1947,

and became a founding member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers.

She died last year. To January 31. $3 donation. Tuesday to Saturday,

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4.

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 440 River Road, Somerville,

908-725-2110. Exhibit by artist-in-residence, Laura Moriarty of Kingston,

New York, whose work, on exhibit in the library gallery, combines

printmaking and papermaking. Her workshop on silk collograph or aquatint

will be Saturday, January 17 ($70; preregister). The artist gives

a slide talk on her work at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 23. Gallery

hours are Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 1

to 4 p.m.

"Dancing patterns of energy interwoven with schematics from another

time form a continuum, and we realize that we are not just observers

but co-creators," says Moriarty. "Our relationship with nature

is not that of something outside of ourselves, as we move into a larger,

more encompassing identity."


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