Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
October 20, 1999. All rights reserved.
The Shahn Family Art Affair
Artist Abby Shahn grew up in a home where powerful
images of art — ancient and modern — were a constant source
of inspiration. Yet her latest paintings are fueled not by pencils,
paints, and pigments, but by the sounds emanating from the radio show
she co-hosts in central Maine.
A Mainer since 1969, Shahn says her show, "Sounds Round the World,"
a forum for the world music boom, has led her into a new involvement
with African diaspora cultures. And the colors, energies, and rhythms
of African-born arts have found their way into her work.
As part of the Arts Council of Princeton’s "Hurrah America! Festival,"
Abby Shahn’s work will be exhibited, along with that of her mother,
96-year-old Bernarda Bryson Shahn, and her late father, Ben Shahn,
in the WPA Gallery. The opening reception is Friday, October 22, at
6:30 p.m. for the show that remains on view through Friday, October
29. Following the reception, author Howard Greenfeld gives a reading
from his new biography, "Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life," published
last November by Random House.
"We have a tendency to look at African culture as static, to look
for the `authentic,’" observes Shahn, in a phone interview from
her home near Solon. "I’m fascinated by the music and the richness
of it all. And one of the things that interests me through the music
is how incredibly permeable the cultures are — much less isolated
than one would have imagined. For example reggae in Jamaica was influenced
by American radio, then Jamaican reggae became powerful on the African
continent, and now we hear African reggae back in the States."
Abby grew up in Roosevelt, New Jersey, the town where Ben Shahn created
his monumental 45-foot-long fresco mural, housed in Roosevelt School,
that celebrates the town’s history and the history of the garment
workers’ union. The year after the mural’s completion in 1938, Shahn
and his wife, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, returned to live in the WPA planned
town then named Jersey Homesteads, and raised three children there.
Ben Shahn died in 1969. His artist widow and son, professional sculptor
Jonathan Shahn, still live and work in Roosevelt. The Shahns’ daughter
Susanna died in an accident as a young adult.
As a young artist, Abby Shahn studied in Oregon, San Francisco, New
York City, and at the Skowheegan school in upstate New York, but earned
a degree from none. "I think it was a sign of the times, that
art school was not necessarily where you got your education back then,"
she says. "I lived in New York in the ’60s during a very vital
period. I was in my 20s, and you could say that my education came
from my fellow artists."
A painter who has also experimented with painting on
ceramics, Shahn’s recent works include "Scaredy Cat," seen
on the cover of this issue, a loopy, pulsating web of primary colors.
It is one of a series of lighthearted works made over the past three
or four years and recently exhibited in New York
"I’m looking for images in the paint and bringing them up to the
surface. I’m looking for honesty and intensity in the images,"
says Shahn, whose dynamic abstractions playfully reveal animals and
plants emerging from a plane of riotous color. The images are created
in egg tempera on paper.
"The intensity of color is what many people see first," says
Shahn, adding that she uses the powered pigments in their pure form,
although at times she may layer one colors over another.
"My dad painted with pigments and not with prepared paint, and
as a child I’d go down with him and look into these beautiful barrels
of powdered pigment. As a young artist I used them because they were
cheap — you buy them by the pound. Now they seem more beautiful,
and it’s an easier solution to keeping materials on hand in this remote
Howard Greenfeld’s new Shahn biography, published last November by
Random House, has led to renewed interest in the artist who became,
during the Depression, one of the nation’s most beloved image-makers.
Unlike Britain’s "Sensation" artists currently causing so
much public distaste, Shahn used his art to give eloquent form to
righteous causes that were widely embraced by the public. His widow,
Bernarda Bryson Shahn, today one of the most venerated members of
the Roosevelt art community, worked as a professional illustrator
who became known for her cover illustrations for the Scientific American.
Since retirement, she has devoted herself to her own drawing, painting,
"My mother often had to tuck her career in and around the family.
It was the best of both worlds. She was home for us — she was
not a working mother who was never there — but she also had her
career." Abby Shahn is the mother of two daughters, both of whom
are artistic. Amanda Shahn Slamm is now working with horticulture
as art expression.
Shahn shows and sells her throughout Maine and is represented by the
Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, the town made famous by the Wyeth family
art dynasty and home to the Farnsworth Museum.
For this second-generation artist, the art profession remains among
the most challenging. "I’m not rolling over in money," says
Shahn with a lusty laugh, "but I’m not starving to death either."
— Nicole Plett
102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8777. "Ben Shahn: An Artist’s
Life." Opening for a show of works by Bernarda Bryson Shahn, Abby
Shahn, and Ben Shahn. At 8 p.m., author Howard Greenfeld reads from
his new biography, "Ben Shahn: An Artist’s Life." Friday,
October 22, 6:30 p.m.
reading events, original illustrations, and prints by seven children’s book illustrators. Artists represented are Dyanne Di Salvo Ryan,
Caldecott Medalist John Shoenherr, Thomas Sperling, Karel Hayes, Ponder Goembel, Charles Santore, and Michael Dooling. To November 11.
in the upper lobby runs through November 1.
Steinberg, Marina Kalinovsky, and Apo Totosyan; sculptures by Amedeo Ferri; and the works of Sydney Neuwirth. To November 6. Gallery 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.
picture book, "Jack and the Beanstalk," re-told by Princeton author Ann Beneduce. Through November. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11
a.m. to 6 p.m., and by appointment.
Merwick Unit Library, landscapes and house portraits by Betty Hirschmann, to December 9. Part of proceeds benefit the medical center. Open 8
a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Black Mountain College and Beyond." A small retrospective that spans four phases of the fiber artist’s career: from design
and color studies for courses taught by Josef and Anni Albers at Black
Mountain College to Lindenfeld’s work in the fashion industry. More
recent works include woven wall pieces and multimedia fiber
compositions. To November 19.
Born in Wuppertal, Germany, Lindenfeld’s family emigrated to
Boston in 1939, when she was 18. With the help of a Harvard faculty network set up to help refugees, she went on to attend Black Mountain
College, a small, experimental college near Asheville, North Carolina.
This brought her together with textile artist Anni Albers
who, with her husband Joseph Albers — both influential members
of the Bauhaus — had also fled Germany. The college became home to
numerous emigre artists, as well as nurturing the talents of such
Americans as Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Nancy
Newhall, Robert Rauschenberg, Lou Harrison, Charles Olsen, Robert
Creeley, and Francine du Plessix Gray.
Lindenfeld spent 10 years as a textile designer in New York, where she met her husband, physicist Peter Lindenfeld, settling in
Princeton in 1959. Lore, who gave up her industry job after the birth of her second child, founded and taught in the weaving department at
Middlesex County Community College for 12 years. She is an active member of the Princeton Artists Alliance and the Textile Study Group of
part of an ongoing series by the fine art and commercial photographer that explores the built environment in this most densely populated
area of the country. To November 1.
from the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. Also beginning, "The Trappings of Gentility:
19th-Century British Art at Princeton." Both shows to January 2. "What Photographs Look Like," from the permanent collection, to October 24.
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.
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.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours of the collection are given every Saturday
at 2 p.m.
Jane Eccles, Margaret K. Johnson, Betsy Miraglia, Joan Needham, and Marie Sturken. To November 3. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday,
noon to 3 p.m.; Thursday 7 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.
Leonid Siveriver, a member of the art faculty. Show runs to November 5. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to
4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
of recent work by two members of the MCCC faculty. Rivera’s narrative paintings are surreal renderings of dreams and cryptic imagery.
Needham is a paper maker and sculptor who uses scrap metal for her abstract constructions. To November 5. Gallery hours are Monday to
Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m.
mixed-media show is composed of rusted dresses made of paper, headpieces and tiaras of wire, beads, and pins, and funeral wreaths. To
October 24. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.
Avenue, Trenton, 609-394-4095. Physicians’ exhibition features works
by CHS physicians Anthony Chiurco, Joseph Eberhart, Leon Fraser, Jay
Goodkind, Robert Gould, Alfred Monkowski, Horace Shaffer, Iradj
Sharim, Richard Siderits, Joseph Wood, and Lee Yazujian. Lobby gallery
is always open. To November 12.
show of oils, watercolors, pastels and acrylics, to November 30. In the New Jersey Artist Series, "Portraits" by Nicole Maynard-Sahar, an
exhibition of expressionistic portraiture, to November 4. Free by appointment.
Princeton area artists Liz Adams, Nadine Berkowsky, Eva Kaplan, Edith Kogan, Judith Koppel, Stephanie Mandelbaum, Helen Post, and Gloria
Wiernik, and curated by Gary Snyder of Snyder Fine Art. In the reception area galleries to November 12. Exhibit is open Monday to Friday, 9
a.m. to 5 p.m.
that continues to November 29. Exhibition is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.
Printmaking Council of New Jersey. Also showing: "The D&R Canal and Trenton: A Visual History." To October 24. Museum hours are Tuesday
through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.
she will show bronze and iron sculpture combined with nontraditional materials. To November 4. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m.
Building, "Beverly Pepper," one-artist show. On the mezzanine, a
thematic photography show, "Focus on Sculpture." Shows continue to April 16, 2000. Gallery hours are Friday through Sunday, 10
a.m. to 4 p.m.
New additions to the 22-acre landscaped sculpture park include works
by Michele Oka Doner, David Hostetler, J. Seward Johnson Jr.,
Francisco Leiro, John Martini, and Joseph Menna. The 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.
the permanent collection by Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Harley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Helen Torr, and others.
Also "Apollo 11 Remembered," an exhibit of commemorative items, to January 2; "Sunstruck!" an exhibit that explores the cultural myths,
music, literature, archaeological artifacts, and astronomy of Earth’s nearest star, to March 12. 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.
music and dance. The Trenton-based artist has been painting and exhibiting for the past 20 years. Writes Vivian Raynor of the New York
Times, "Taback’s paintings have a great deal of integrity."
an exhibition by feminist performance and conceptual artist and filmmaker Carolee Schneemann. To November 13.
an exhibit highlighting Hungarian contributions to the arts, sciences, humanities, commerce, religious and civic life in America. To January
31. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $3 donation.
installations on view through October. Hours are Friday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.
Family Collection." Show features 80 works, dating from the 15th to early 20th century, presenting an overview of the variety of style and
sensibility in African art. To November 24. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5
Also on exhibit: "Sources of Japonism: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the David and Ruth Eisenberg Collection"; and "Let’s Go: On the Move
with Children’s Book Illustration." Both shows to November 24.
show inspired by the brilliant amoeboid shapes that appeared to the artist when he was recovering from anesthesia after eye surgery. To
November 13. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
America" by Sandra Davis and recent images of France by Gordon Hass. To October 31. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m.
watercolors by the Chinese-American artist inspired by recent visits to Venice, Alaska, and the Jersey shore. To December 3.
watercolors by Harriet Ermentrout, and pastels by Mike Filipiak. To November 14. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sandra Eliot continues to October 28.
Susan Zoon’s "Contents Under Pressure." Both shows run to October 31. Gallery is open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesday.
Burlington carver Jess Heisler (1891-1943), whose best work
ranks among the finest of the Delaware River school of carving, and
works by his friend and pupil John Marinkos (1915-1999). To January 9. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.
to the Philadelphia Museum of Art comprehensive exhibit on Edward
Hicks, an exhibit on the professional and spiritual environment in
which the lifelong Bucks County artist worked. Three related displays
explore the 19th-century craft of ornamental painting, the Quaker
meetinghouse environment, and the iconography of William Penn and the
Society of Friends. $5 adult; $1.50 youth. Museum hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday
evening to 9 p.m.
Hicks Sampler," featuring an 1837 version of "Peaceable Kingdom" and "The Landing of Columbus." Also an exhibition, "Picturing
Washington: Icons and Images of America’s Founding Father." $5 adults;
$1.50 students; children free. Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 10
a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also "From Soup Cans to Nuts," an exhibition of prints by Andy Warhol, on loan from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The artist, who died in
1987, is best known for his flamboyant, multiple silkscreen prints that explore icons of popular culture from the famous soup to Marilyn
Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. To November 21.
Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed
Mondays. $5 adults; students $1.50; children free.
whose quirky scenes capture some of the enigma of life as we know it. To October 31. Gallery is open Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m.
Bill Giacalone, Hanneke DeNeve, Elizabeth Lombardi. Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday (call for hours) and by appointment. To November
featuring 12 gallery co-op members presenting shows that change monthly. Working with owner Eric Gibbons are curators and artists Beverly
Fredericks and Lana Bernard-Toniolio.
Additional co-op members are Maura Carey, Sarah Bernotas, Richard
Gerster, Robert Sinkus, Mike Pacitti, Michael Bergman, Jane Lawrence,
Charlotte Jacks, Dorothy Amsden, Carmen Johnson, John Wilson, and Bob
Gherardi. Gallery hours are Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
hand-made paper, and mixed media works by Anita Benarde. To October 27. Free.
acrylics by Helen Gallagher. To October 30. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
October 23. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wooden Ware" by J. Chester Farnsworth, a satirical show of mixed-media work, To October 30.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.