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This article by Carolyn Foote Edelmann was prepared for the
April 25, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
The Nature of Friendship
Pierre & Sophia, A True Tale in English and
born of neighborliness, is more than a new children’s book. It’s a
bridge linking children of two cultures — American and French.
Already in its second printing, "Pierre & Sophia" also serves
as an ongoing bridge between its creators and the Griggstown
Society. Proceeds from this new publication support the society’s
efforts to preserve the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Towpath, along
whose banks this story unfolds.
The story evolved over the course of two years. Griggstown artist
Sue Agin and Mary Shaw, a Rutgers University professor of French,
encouraged a budding friendship between their two young children.
First, Sue painted her daughter, Sophia, and Mary’s son, Pierre, in
everyday activities alongside the canal. Then Mary set about
the pictures together" in simple French and English to create
this appealing storybook.
On Sunday, April 29, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers hosts an
of Spring: Family Day." Part of their celebration includes "A
World of Story," featuring art of an international array of
children’s illustrators. This new example of American Impressionism,
"Pierre & Sophia, A True Tale in English and French" will
come alive among the work of exhibitors E. B. Lewis, Catherine Stock,
Adrienne Adams, and Erika Weih. Author Mary Shaw and artist Sue Agin
will read from their new book, incorporating playful French lessons.
This event will be offered twice, at 1:15 and at 2 p.m., in the
Children’s Literature Gallery.
Rutgers’ Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum is renowned on scholarly
as well as popular fronts for their collection of the art of 20th
and 21st century children’s literature. Other strengths include
Impressionism and the French collection. In this milieu, "Pierre
& Sophia" fits like toast in a toaster.
The original intent of Pierre’s and Sophia’s mothers was to intrigue
Sophia into learning French, Pierre to start to read, and both
into a strong connection. Shaw’s "modern fairy tale," concerns
"Sophia, the fair princess," and "her French-prince,
a cheeky boy." Towpath and Canal vie with these youngsters as
hero and heroine, alluring in all seasons. The impressionistic story
is long on charm and short on action. Creatures of woodland and water
interact with the children. Clouds reflect and certify their unique
friendship. Like St. Exupery’s "The Little Prince", and E.
B. White’s "Charlotte’s Web," the allure of this work is by
no means limited to pre-schoolers.
Paging through the exquisite visual and verbal images of "Pierre
& Sophia" is like holding American Impressionism in your hands.
Sue Agin’s watercolors have a dreamy quality evocative of the mood
while kayaking the canal’s misty reaches in summertime: so still,
you can sneak up on a turtle. Not unlike Monet with his haystacks
and poplars, Sue set herself to capture the children on a daily basis,
to memorialize the towpath and canal in all seasons. For all its
the work has a strong core. That core is authenticity.
Sue Agin admits, "We showed the children their
yes: afterwards. Thy did not pose." Mary Shaw declares, "I
tried not to invent a fiction, to stay true to Pierre’s and Sophia’s
reality. This was a bond that grew with the seasons, as the book
In the beginning, they didn’t want to play together so much as we
wanted them to. Pierre’s eyes are half-closed in the tea party scene.
Her games weren’t all that interesting to him at that point. By the
end of the book, the children had become inseparable. This is how
they are today."
Griggstown Historical Society president Marilyn Kulik attributes the
powerful appeal of "Pierre & Sophia" to its focus on the
"Sue’s images remind us that this canal is a precious and enduring
resource for children of the future. Sue’s art and this sweet story
capture what we have to work over and over to save," she says.
Therefore, the Historical Society helped sponsor publication. Part
of the proceeds from "Pierre & Sophia" benefit the society
"so that we can go on teaching, keeping our finger in the
The Griggstown Historical Society is a long-time local preservationist
group. Some of its members have recently founded the frankly activist
Citizens to Preserve Griggstown. Historical and preservationist groups
throughout the Millstone Valley have begun to band together to form
the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition. This co-operation is
part of a nationwide trend, a concerted attempt to stem development
and the concrete inundations that accompany it. The current goal of
this newest area organization is to have Canal and River roads
National Scenic Byways. The connection of Pierre and Sophia mirrors
this ecological trend.
The book is reaching not only activists, but also students in local
schools. Shaw, fresh from an author’s event at Franklin Park
School, recently described one of her "playshop presentations"
involving this cross-cultural, grass-roots book.
"We went to Pierre’s and Sophia’s school, to their actual
because the children there wanted to learn about writing stories,
about book-making, as well as about French," says Shaw. She
over the intensely involved reactions of that day’s first-grade
"The children engaged eagerly, and these are non-Francophones.
It was a verbal dance." Thanks to recent legal developments,
and other foreign languages are being increasingly taught in New
schools at all grade levels. "Pierre & Sophia" is on the cusp
of that trend.
Sue Agin marveled at the seriousness of their young questioners:
wanted to know what kind of paint I use, and if I draw first and then
color. One little girl asked, `How do you stay in the lines?’"
"All of them wanted to know, `How did you make the book?’"
"Children seem to ask `How?’," observed Mary. "Teachers
want to know why."
This is a book for lovers of unspoiled beauty; for people who live
here now and those who have, reluctantly, moved to towpath-less
for those who know French — a lot or just a little; for those
who cherish childhood and those who would return to it, just for a
while, with enchanting Sophia and cheeky Pierre.
— Carolyn Foote Edelmann
George and Hamilton streets, New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. A day of
art, music, entertainment, and a book signing of "Pierre &
by author Mary Shaw and illustrator Sue Agin. Free with museum
Sunday, April 29, 1 to 4 p.m.
Criqueville Press, Box 1227, Princeton NJ 08542; and through
Historical Society, 1079 Canal Road, Princeton 08540. It is also sold
at Micawber Books, En Provence, and Jazams, in Princeton, and the
Zimmerli Museum Shop in New Brunswick.
Agin’s original paintings for "Pierre & Sophia" are on exhibit
at Franklin Township Library, in the Municipal Complex, 485 DeMott
Road, in Franklin Township (732-873-8700) through April 30.
Reese, "Forms Transformed," a show of multimedia works.
latest multimedia works incorporate ceramic forms," says Reese,
who also has a degree in endocrinology from Rutgers. "Clay, the
essence of Mother Earth, has become (along with the re-use of found
objects) central to my collages, masks, and vessels." To April
"Art in Bloom," an international show of floral paintings
and landscapes which premiered last month at the Philadelphia Flower
Show. Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To April 27.
Dining room exhibition of watercolors by Charles E. Person, and
and pastels by Patrice Sprovieri. On view daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To May 16.
A student-curated show of works by Tony Gonzalez featuring his
series of studies of the Jersey Shore. The New York City artist
at Cooper Union. All profits from the sale of work go directly to
PHS art programs. Monday to Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and by appointment
from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To May 18.
Drawings in the American Tradition," to June 17. "Great
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," an exhibition of sketches and works related to
the French architect’s Princeton lectures, 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. On extended view in the Bowen Gallery, Richard Serra’s
"Weight and Measure" etchings. Tuesday through Saturday, 10
a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours are every Saturday at
Hightstown, 609-490-7550. Visual arts faculty showcase featuring
works by Tim Panjabi-Trelease, Catherine Robohm Watkins, Joan Krejcar
Sharma, and Michael Maxwell. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m.
to 3 p.m. To April 27.
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. Reception
and gallery talk will take place Wednesday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m.
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.
Trenton, 609-394-4000. A group show by the Princeton Photography Club
featuring nature photography, portraits, still life, and landscapes.
Show continues through May 18 in the main lobby gallery that is always
732-524-3698. Works in oil by New Jersey artist Rosalie Hettenbach,
working in a style she identifies as Dynakinetic Impressionist Art.
"I want each viewer to feel as if they are enveloped in my
says Hettenbach, "as if my artwork is jumping out at them
She studied at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in Summit under
S. Allyn Schaeffer. To April 27. Free by appointment only.
Also "The Healing Garden Quilt Show," an exhibit of 27
quilts depicting plants that are being used or tested for the
of cancer, created by the Northern Virginia Quilters Group; to May
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Annual juried show selected by exhibition chairperson, Edie Sharp.
Open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Saturday, April 28.
609-397-1006. "The Logik of Josh Owen," an exhibition of
furniture and lighting designs. Owen is a 1994 graduate of Cornell
who earned his MFA in furniture design in 1997 at the Rhode Island
School of Design. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, 12 to
5 p.m. and by appointment. To April 30.
609-397-3349. "Father Figure," a retrospective series of
by Paul Matthews, portraying of his father, T.S. Matthews, and
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.
"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
"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.
An exhibition of recent sculpture by New York artist and Rutgers
Gary Kuehn. 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
to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To May 3.
Kuehn says his sculpture is the result of a process and a procedure
and any suggestion of a particular representation is secondary,
and unavoidable. "Each work derives from an observation, a
and an intuitive sensing — transformed, compact, complete, and
beyond language. It is sometimes said that biography plays a part
in every artist’s work. This I neither affirm nor deny."
609-292-6464. "TAWA: Eyes on Trenton," a juried exhibition
of works in all media that focus on the city of Trenton. Juried by
longtime TAWA and New Jersey State Museum member Molly Merlino,
Margaret O’Reilly, and registrar Jana Balsamo, the show features 65
works by 53 artists. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9
a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. To May 10.
Also on view, "Americans on the Silver Screen," an exhibit
of movie posters, press books, and lobby cards dating from 1934 to
1970 that explores the role of movies in creating and perpetuating
stereotypes of ethnic Americans. "Reflections of Cultures: African
Art and Craftwork from the Collections," wooden carvings,
textiles, metal work, and a recreation of a Nigerian village in
carvings. On extended view: "The Modernists;" "Fine and
Decorative Arts Collections;" "New Jersey Ceramics, Silver,
Glass and Iron;" "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The
Record;" "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
and "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
609-695-0061. An exhibition featuring contemporary impressionist
Jerry Cable and his romantic and pastoral farmscapes. Gallery hours
are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
To April 30.
A giant exhibition of small artworks featuring miniature acrylic
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.
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.
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.
Garden State Watercolor Society members’ juried exhibit. Jurors are
Lisa Tinsman and Michael Mercandante. Gallery is open Tuesday to
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To May 20.
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.
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