Rutgers’ Legacy

Art in Town

Campus Arts

Art In Trenton

Art by the River

Other Museums

Art in the Workplace

Corrections or additions?

This review by Nicole Plett was prepared for the

May 2, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Sculpture Springs Anew

The big white pedestal looms empty and pristine at

the center of the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Beside it stands

70-year-old Geoffrey Hendricks, clad in a white shirt and white pants

and large black Wellington boots. Hendricks, a senior professor in

the visual arts at Rutgers, is tall and slender, his suitably

weatherbeaten

face topped with a gray cloud of close-cropped hair. His task is to

read some prepared remarks about the history of Mason Gross School

and its impact on contemporary American sculpture.

Yet the occurrence of art can be as fleeting and lovely as the spring

blossoms that bloom everywhere around us. So we watch as Hendricks

makes his move from podium to pedestal. Here he sits down and empties

the contents of a cloth tote bag: two big bunches of daffodils and

narcissus, a white pillow, a paper garland of some kind, muslin

strips,

and a pair of tiny brass cymbals.

Working fast now, he removes his big boots, rolls up his pants, and

proceeds to tie one daffodil bouquet to each of his lower legs. Next

he takes the garland of paper with printed letters and firmly knots

one end around each of his big toes. Adjusting his pillow to the

center

of the pedestal, he sounds a delicate chime of the cymbals. Then the

"senior professor" — through the miracle of human

engineering

and sheer fortitude — raises himself into a perfect headstand.

With his spring flowers now radiantly upright around each of his bare

feet, he spreads his legs sufficiently to unfurl the tangle of black

letters on white cards which now reads: "SCULPTURE IN

FLUX."

Thus the "Off the Wall" exhibit opened with a flourish last

Wednesday, April 25, at the giant pharmaceutical’s corporate gallery

in Lawrenceville. A major effort of curatorship and installation,

it features work by 27 sculptors affiliated with Rutgers’ Mason Gross

School of the Arts over a period of close to 50 years. Curated by

Kate Somers, its works are installed on the grounds, on the terrace

overlooking the lake, and in the gallery. The show will remain on

view to September 9.

Be assured that "Off the Wall" is no stroll

down memory lane. The show is multi-generational, yet there’s no

visible

divide between youngsters and old-timers. (Former "student"

Gary Kuehn, for example, an early MFA graduate of the program, is

now chair of the department.) Each artist is represented by just one

work, and the work is hugely varied. And not only are lines between

generations blurred or non-existent, but, best of all, the show

comprises

almost all recent work made from the late ’90s through 2001. It

includes

posthumous tributes to graduates George Segal and Herk Van Tongeren

(of the Johnson Atelier), each represented by a piece from the early

1980s.

Although we’re dealing with a "school" of sorts (Claes

Oldenburg

is said to have called it the "New Jersey School"), there’s

no uniformity. Yet the show does unfold into a cluster of related

themes: commonplace and found objects, assemblage and juxtaposition;

inventive use of technology; idea-driven art — and undercurrents

of humor.

Top Of Page
Rutgers’ Legacy

The largely overlooked art legacy of Rutgers University

was brought back into focus in 1999 with "Off Limits: Rutgers

University and the Avant-Garde, 1957 to 1963," a major exhibition

of its eight founding members, curated by Joseph Jacobs at the Newark

Museum of Art. The catalogue to that show, that includes five recent

essays, edited by Joan Marter and published by Rutgers University

Press, offers an invaluable companion to "Off the Wall" at

Bristol-Myers Squibb. It’s a comprehensive chronicle of these

trailblazers

of Happenings, Pop, Fluxus, and Conceptual art.

Geoffrey Hendricks’ introduction to the spare but serviceable catalog

that accompanies this "Off the Wall" show dates the Rutgers

era from 1957 and the coming together of a group of artists who

clearly

fed off each other’s energy. Hendricks had arrived as a young

instructor

in the Douglass art department in 1956, got involved in the Fluxus

movement in the mid-1960s, and has taught art at Rutgers now for some

45 years.

The art of the Rutgers Group, as the elder artists are sometimes

called,

had components both technological and mundane, and took art beyond

the bounds of Abstract Expressionism into the radical, provocative,

disturbing, and humorous. Allan Kaprow, father of the Happening,

arrived

at Rutgers in 1953 and by 1957 he was actively working there on his

genre-busting Environments. His colleagues of the time were luminaries

Roy Lichtenstein,

George Segal, Lucas Samaras, George Brecht, Robert Watts, and Robert

Whitman.

Together, these artists revolutionized not only art practices but

art pedagogy as well. As Hendricks observes, while the programs of

the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College were topics of discussion among

the Rutgers faculty, the desire was "to create something that

could be comparable but on our own terms."

Hendricks also quotes a 1957 manifesto by Brecht, Kaprow, and Watts

in which they state how "since the turn of the century, artists

and scientists have in reality become close allies in an examination

of form and structure, even though the alliance may not at once be

clear to all."

The Rutgers art programs grew and mutated over the next 20 years.

Mason Gross School of the Arts was founded in 1976 and had its own

faculty. And Whereas Douglass, Livingston, and Rutgers College each

had a distinct mission and faculty in the arts, these were brought

together in 1981 to form the program for Mason Gross. As Hendricks

notes, "the differences and the diversity of this combined faculty

gave the new school a special energy."

By the late 1960s, Kaprow could reminisce in an interview of how New

Jersey’s ex-urban mixture of natural fertility and industrial

desolation

had given the Rutgers artists their "feel for the

environment."

Kaprow also characterized the artists for their

"un-groupiness,"

noting the irony of the fact that "Rutgers was the catalyst in

all of this, in spite of itself."

One of "Off the Wall’s" signature works — this one by

a 30-year-old graduate — is Thomas Dorchak’s "Influence,"

1999, a kinetic wonder of polished silvery "daisy" forms that

rotate amiably — and aimlessly. The work’s feast of cultural and

art references provoke a myriad of involuntary smiles, from its

evocation

of the unbearable ’60s smiley-faces (which are entirely absent from

the work) to the decidedly Miro-like form of its wooden base.

Meanwhile

Dorchak’s choice of a connected series of exposed belts and pulleys

driving the thing seems to poke gentle fun at his

"revolutionary"

forebears, the kinetic artists.

Among these forebears is the well-known Alice Aycock

whose motor-driven structure that stands nearby. "Clouds: Nothing

from Something, Something from Nothing" (1991) looks something

like an old Victrola, with rings of photo-etched brass that spin on

a disc, and a noise-making drumstick. The intriguing work was quiet

during the show’s opening, but as the artist describes it, the work

"suggests the impossible: that clouds can be played like a record,

and the music or sound can be broadcast."

Outdoors one of the strongest works of the group is Chakaia Booker’s

big, bold "(Wrench) (Wench) II," of 2001. Some eight-feet

high, and built of metal and rubber tire "leaves," it

resembles

a hugely powerful tool — though only a hand wrench — which

seems to perform its own sensuous dance. (Note the dozen or so bolts

than anchor it to its base.) Still redolent with its rubber tire

components,

here’s a work that celebrates sculpture’s capacity to bring unlike

elements together and let them work on the viewer.

Keith Sonnier, one of the program’s earliest graduates, shows his

1994 wall sculpture "Tisket-a-Tasket," a darkly whimsical

study of our petrochemical society. It comprises a plastic laundry

basket hung with used bottles of STP, Mop-‘n-Glow, Dynamo, bleach,

and such. A graceful swirl of blue light, in the form of a tube of

neon, emanates from within the basket and circles around the outside.

One of the show’s most quiet additive works is Todd Lambrix’s modestly

beautiful "The Jargon of Turbulent Schisms" (2000). Three-feet

long and just a few inches high, the footstool-like form has a base

of finished wood upholstered in maroon Ultrasuede. The surface carries

a small landscape of straight pins, each one with a single grain of

wild rice affixed to its head. Delicacy notwithstanding, the

assemblage

resonates with elusive significance, almost hums with the possibility

of meaning.

An important aspect of "Off the Wall" is the fact that the

formerly art-free greensward of the huge Bristol-Myers campus is

currently

enhanced by several outdoor works. Out near the entrance is John

Goodyear’s

10-foot square construction, "Hand Stand." This ingenious

and imposing work is comprised of two stucco-like walls of abstract

shape which together, in the negative space of their meeting, portrays

the form of its uncomplicated title.

Also new on the campus grounds is Harry Gordon’s, "T," a

simple

shape defined by two massive tree limbs incised with a chain saw or

other implement, and protected by a glossy resin. Gordon earned his

MFA at Rutgers in 1987. Today he resourcefully combines his own art

making and art teaching activities with a business venture, Harry

Gordon Studios, a company that specializes in handling, moving, and

installing sculpture — skills he provided for this show.

Judith Shumacher’s 2001 outdoor installation of 250 white traffic

cones is titled "Conefield 663662 000254" and carries a

scannable

UPC symbol to match emblazoned on one of its cones. Advancing on the

notorious art interests of Marcel Duchamp, Schumacher had the numbers

assigned to her by the Uniform Code Council when she registered as

a "manufacturer of one-of-a-kind art objects." Another work

in Duchamp’s tradition of Readymades is Rick Salafia’s "Objets

D’Art." At first glance it’s a gaudy red plastic bouquet that

proves, on closer viewing, to be an assemblage of darts on a dart

board.

More traditional and by no means whimsical is the figurative work

by Robert T. Cooke titled "The Dummy." This cast iron clown

head — hollow, eyeless, with fat nose, and enormous ears —

perches on the edge of a conventional pink granite base. Where facial

features should be is an aggressive oval of white clown makeup paint,

with only the articulated red lips defined. The effect is chilling.

By reaching back in time with references to minstrelsy, placed in

an exhibit that specifically addresses the past 50 years in U.S.

history,

the work evokes, for me, a grim commentary on the Sisyphean search

for equal rights.

Among the show’s less thorny but exciting works are Gary Kuehn’s

impressive

"The Second State," 1999-2000, a trio of wood forms in orange,

yellow, and black. These elegant, quasi-figurative truncated forms

raise thoughts of the historic "Torso Prize" as well as

minimalism

and color field painting. Also impressive is Jackie Windsor’s

"Fifty-Fifty,"

a 40-inch square cube built of wood lath. Dating from 1975, this

composition’s

restrained but active beauty is also one of the show’s historic

benchmarks.

Carson Fox’s "Twenty-Five Moments" is an assemblage of 25

hands hammered from thin sheets of corroded copper, somewhat rough

and impressionistic, like faded memories. These hollow forms suggest

sameness but also imply the infinite number of dissimilar actions

that our collective hand can make.

We’re told that Geoffrey Hendricks earned the title of

"Cloudsmith"

for his career-long study of the sky and creation of sky imagery.

And the sculpture he shows here is in many ways as ephemeral as his

valiant headstand, offered, he noted in the spirit of Allan Kaprow’s

innovative and sometimes whimsical Happenings. Titled "Sky Ladder

— Earth Box," Hendricks’ sculpture comprises a well-worn

wooden

ladder, suspended from the ceiling, that acts as a support for a

series

of evocative watercolor moonscapes. The series of pictures, tied

together

with brown twine, seem to rise up from an old wooden box on the floor,

hinged box with clasp and filled with common dirt.

Let no one say Hendricks fails to practice what he preaches: "Art

is indeed off the wall and in free play in the environment."

— Nicole Plett

Off the Wall, Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Route

206, Lawrenceville, 609-252-6275. An exhibit of works by 27 sculptors

affiliated with Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, curated by

Kate Somers. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;

and weekends and holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. On view to September 9.

Top Of Page
Art in Town

Medical Center at Princeton, 253 Witherspoon Street,

609-497-4192.

Dining room exhibition of watercolors by Charles E. Person, and

paintings

and pastels by Patrice Sprovieri. On view daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To May 16.

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street,

609-497-7330.

A solo exhibition of new paintings by European artist Georges Mazilu.

A resident of France, Mazilu is known for his signature style that

links modern surrealism with Northern Renaissance traditions. His

art is the subject of a retrospective catalog written by Princeton

art critic and historian Sam Hunter. Gallery hours are Tuesday to

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To May 22.

Numina Gallery, Princeton High School, Moore Street,

609-683-4480.

A student-curated show of works by Tony Gonzalez featuring his

long-running

series of studies of the Jersey Shore. The New York City artist

teaches

at Cooper Union. All profits from the sale of work go directly to

PHS art programs. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.;

and by appointment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To May 18.

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Campus Arts

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

"Modern

Drawings in the American Tradition," to June 17. "Great

Impressions

II: The Art of the Print in the Western World" and "Spanish

Drawings," to June 10. "Le Corbusier at Princeton: 14 to 16

November 1935," to June 17. Also "A Tapestry by Karel van

Mander" to June 10. "Seeing Double: Copies and Copying in

the Arts of China," an exhibition of Chinese art, to July 1. 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.

Firestone Library, Princeton University, 609-258-3184.

"The Light of Ancient Athens: A Photographic Journey by Felix

Bonfils, 1868-’87," an historic series of 42 large-format

photographs

taken in Beirut by the 19th-century French photographer. To October

7. Open to the public weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday evenings

to 8 p.m.; and weekends, noon to 5 p.m.

Lawrenceville School, Gruss Center of Visual Arts,

Lawrenceville,

609-620-6026. Annual alumni exhibition features works by M. Jay

Goodkind

’45, Cole Carothers ’67, and James Toia ’80. Gallery hours are Monday

to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; except Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m.

to noon. To June 2.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Preparing the Light," featuring

the stained glass, sculpture, and paintings by Kathleen Nicastro,

a member of the staff of the office of student relations. 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 May 29.

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Art In Trenton

Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum, Cadwalader Park,

609-989-3632.

"Johnson Atelier Open," a group show featuring over 100 works

from the renowned Johnson Atelier sculpture foundry and stone studio

by 50 present and past artist apprentices and staff members. Museum

hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to

4 p.m. To June 3.

Extension Gallery, 60 Ward Avenue, Mercerville,

609-890-7777.

An exhibition of recent sculpture by New York artist and Rutgers

professor

Gary Kuehn (also represented in "Off the Wall.") Working with

painted foam rubber and epoxy, Kuehn keeps expressive intervention

to a minimum in works that all begin with a more or less geometric

piece of foam rubber. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m.

to 4 p.m. To May 3.

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

609-292-6464. "TAWA: Eyes on Trenton," a juried exhibition

of works in all media. Juried by longtime TAWA and New Jersey State

Museum member Molly Merlino, curator Margaret O’Reilly, and registrar

Jana Balsamo, the show features 65 works by 53 artists. Museum hours

Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

To May 10.

Also: "The Modernists;" "Fine and Decorative Arts

Collections;"

"New Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron;" "New

Jersey’s

Native Americans;" "Delaware Indians of New Jersey;"

"The

Sisler Collection of North American Mammals."

"Of Rock and Fire; New Jersey and the Great Ice Age;"

"Dinosaur

Turnpike: Treks through New Jersey’s Piedmont;" "Amber: the

Legendary Resin;" and "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

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Art by the River

Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville,

609-397-4588.

"Anything Goes," a shared show featuring works by Merle Citron

and Peter Petraglia. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To May 6.

Atelier Gallery, 108 Harrison Street, Frenchtown,

908-996-9992.

"Ordinary Secrets," a sculpture show by Stockton artist

Caroline

Gibson. Sewing together tar paper, aluminum, roof flashing, plumbing

parts, and other common materials, she creates clothes with "a

life of their own." Gallery is open Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m.

to 5 p.m. To May 21.

The Mercantile, 7 North Main Street, Lambertville,

609-397-8115.

Group show by the Art Group (or TAG) featuring delicate oils pastels

by Liz Adams, Chinese brush painting by Seow Chu See, graphites by

Judith Koppel, watercolors by Helen Post, and landscape work by Nadine

Berkowsky. To May 20.

Riverrun Gallery, 287 South Main Street, Lambertville,

609-397-3349. "Father Figure," a retrospective series of

portraits

by Paul Matthews, portraying of his father, T.S. Matthews, and

spanning

the years 1978 to 2001. Matthews was managing editor of Time magazine

from 1941 to 1949 and came to live with his son in Lambertville at

the end of his life. He died in England in 1991 shortly before his

90th birthday. Gallery is open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed

Tuesday. To May 12.

Tin Man Alley, 12 West Mechanic Street, New Hope,

215-862-1110.

"The New Surrealists" featuring limited edition prints and

lithographs by Mark Ryden, Eric White, and Joe Sorren. Pioneers of

the movement, these artists look for new frontiers where the bizarre,

the fantastic, and the beautiful merge. Curated by Jonathan Levine,

gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To May

27.

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Other Museums

American Hungarian Foundation, 300 Somerset Street, New

Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "The Art of Baron Laszlo Mednyansky in

Context: Works from the Salgo Trust for Education." An exhibition

of works by the turn-of-the-century aristocratic artist who disguised

himself as a pauper to paint grim images of the underbelly of society.

Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday,

1 to 4 p.m. Donation $5. To September 16.

Hunterdon Museum of Art, Lower Center Street, Clinton,

908-735-8415. "Melvin Edwards: The Prints of a Sculptor,"

an exhibit of prints and works on paper by the artist best known for

his powerful work in welded steel. Edwards’ work makes metaphorical

references, both personal and historical, to the African-American

experience incorporating cultural references to his extensive travels

in Africa. He has taught at Rutgers Mason Gross School since 1972.

Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To June 3.

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

Doylestown,

215-340-9800. www.michenerartmuseum.org. "The

Photography

of Alfred Stieglitz" Georgia O’Keeffe’s Enduring Gift," a major

retrospective of the influential modernist’s owm works drawn from

a major collection given by O’Keeffe to the George Eastman House in

Rochester. To May 20.

Museum admission $6 adults; $2.50 students; under 12 free. Museum

hours Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday,

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.

Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street,

New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. The newly expanded and renovated museum

features: "American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian

American Art Museum" and "The Exotic Flower: Constructions

of Femininity in Late 19th-Century French Art;" both shows to

May 20. "The Sum is Greater than the Parts: Collage and Assemblage

from the Dodge Collection," to May 6. "Confrontations:

Selections

from the Rutgers Archives for Printmaking Studios," to June 17.

"Traffic Patterns: Images of Transportation in American Prints

between the Wars," to June 3. "New Acquisitions from Central

Asia: Selections from the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Soviet

Nonconformist Art." To July 31. Also "Konenkov," to

September

30.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;

Saturday

and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. $3 adults; under 18 free; museum is open

free to the public on the first Sunday of every month. Spotlight Tours

every Sunday at 2 and 2:45 p.m.

Area Galleries

Artful Deposit Gallery, 201 Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown,

609-298-6970. Limited edition giclee prints by California artist Sally

Weathersby, a still life and landscape painter. Gallery hours are

Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m. To May 20.

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown,

609-298-3742.

A giant exhibition of small artworks featuring miniature acrylic

landscapes

by Florida artist Peggie Hornbrook and works by 30 area artists. Over

200 works will be on exhibit, all priced under $200. Gallery hours

are Wednesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. To May 26.

Gas House Gallery, 40 Broad Street, Hopewell,

609-466-4672.

A new gallery in the tradition of "Art’s Garage," featuring

the paintings of Hopewell artist Alan Taback. Taback began his career

as a plein-air painter, moved to portraiture, and has most recently

turned to abstract figurative work. The gallery is open weekends,

and by appointment.

Hopewell Frame Shop, 24 West Broad Street, Hopewell,

609-466-0817.

Sandra Nusblatt’s exhibition of watercolor house portraits and wicker

porch scenes painted in Princeton, Lambertville, Cape May, and other

historic locales. Shop hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;

Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To May 25.

Montgomery Cultural Center, 1860 House, Skillman,

609-921-3272.

Garden State Watercolor Society members’ juried exhibit. Jurors are

Lisa Tinsman and Michael Mercandante. Gallery is open Tuesday to

Friday,

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To May 20.

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 440 River Road, North

Branch, 908-725-2110. "Humanity," a juried exhibition about

diversity on our planet. Juror Wayne Miyamoto of University of Hawaii,

has selected 40 pieces that look at difference and similarity in such

areas as origin and culture, time and place, work and play, politics

and religion. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 4

p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To June 2.

Top Of Page
Art in the Workplace

Capital Health System, Mercer Campus, 446 Bellevue Avenue,

Trenton, 609-394-4000. A group show by the Princeton Photography Club

featuring nature photography, portraits, still life, and landscapes.

Show continues to May 18 in the main lobby gallery that is always

open.

Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters Gallery, New

Brunswick,

732-524-3698. "The Healing Garden Quilt Show," an exhibit

of 27 handmade quilts depicting plants that are being used or tested

for the treatment of cancer, created by the Northern Virginia Quilters

Group; to May 22. By appointment only.

Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Building Two,

Lawrenceville,

609-895-7307. "Latent Images," an exhibition of photographs

by William Vandever curated by Gary Snyder Fine Art. Vandever works

in black and white, color, hand-colored, and digital photography.

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To May 25.


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