Area art lovers will want to mark their calendars for next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 12 through 14, when three Central Jersey-based masters will make rare public appearances. Fortunately the schedule is one artist per day during this three-for-one weekend.
On Friday, October 12, Frank Rivera opens his first regional exhibition in two years, “Nuits Blanches,” with a reception and gallery talk at Maribou Gallery at the Peddie School in Hightstown.
As a review by arts writer (and former U.S. 1 preview editor) Nicole Plett notes, Rivera’s work “borders on the hermetic: his daily, labor-intensive art making practice is independent of outside agency,” noting how the artist would invest hours and years on a single work, completing each year only four or five “small, exquisitely detailed canvases (that) hearken back to the devotional painting of the early Renaissance.”
Rivera’s new show features 13 new works and runs through Friday, November 2.
Known to the central New Jersey arts community as both an active artist and an art instructor at Mercer County Community College from 1967 to 2003, Rivera was born in 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, studied at Yale Art School, and received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He has exhibited regionally as well as in New York City and Paris.
His website biography notes that from 1964 he “lived in New York almost continuously for … 15 years, absorbing the dominant influences of his time. He continued to paint, showing in galleries and in the Whitney Biennial during the 1970s.” He also worked as a guard for the Museum of Modern Art.
Rivera admits to a life-long interest in the art of the predella, small decorative panels found on ancient alter pieces. These works of veneration have inspired the artist to create works of meditation.
“As I organize visual material for my paintings, I attempt to link images to a particular event in my life. In presenting the result to those who would study these paintings, I am hoping to ring an experiential bell in their memories, even though I may encode my own memory or disguise the event,” he writes.
“The human eye is fascinated by the prospect of sorting out the irregularities between exact copies. It is equally fascinated by making connections between polar opposites,” says Rivera.
For “Nuit Blanches” (White Nights), Rivera says his new body of work “explores the theme of war games: conflicts on land, sea, and air. Like the dreamer’s world, it is a world of facsimiles and visual puns, populated by combatants more Punchinello than adversarial. It is a world of loopy misfires disciplined by the painter’s white-out. Whiteness signals the moment of waking from a troubled sleep… leaving the dreamer to rebuild that which vaporized too quickly.”
Frank Rivera’s “Nuit Blanches,” Peddie School. Opening and talk. Friday, October 12, 6:30 to 8 p.m.Free. For more information: www.peddie.org/mariboegallery
On Saturday, October 13, celebrated watercolorist Marge Chavooshian will return to central New Jersey to receive the Garden State Watercolor Society’s first Emeritus Award, presented for the artist’s long-time service to the society. The event will take place at the reception for the Garden State Watercolor Society’s annual juried show at Prallsville Mills, Stockton.
A prominent Trenton resident for more than 50 years, Chavooshian relocated early this year to Yonkers, New York, to be close to family, which includes daughter and sculptor Nora Chavooshian.
The elder Chavooshian, born in 1925 in New York City, worked as a commercial and design artist before turning her interests to painting, especially street scenes and the facades of buildings. She studied at the Arts Student League with Mario Cooper and influential American artist Reginald Marsh, known for lively depictions of New York City street life and sketching and working on the street.
Chavooshian works outdoors and has produced hundreds of en plein air works in the Garden State and around the world. Just recently, the artist has limited her annual trips abroad where she would paint solo on a street in Italy or Spain. It was no wonder that a New York Times reviewer called her a “rare artist who takes the audience on a grand summer trip.”
While the watercolor society press materials rightfully mention that Chavooshian’s works “shine with luminous detail, geometric shapes, and sunlight,” it neglects to point out the energy and vigor of lines and tones that one would associate with a person a quarter of her age.
The former Trenton Public Schools art teacher has shown at the New Jersey State Museum and The Trenton City Museum, appeared in American Artist Magazine, received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and is public and private collections in is the USA, Canada, and Europe. She is also the recipient of 163 awards, including the Medal of Honor and Digby Chandler from the Painters & Sculptors of New Jersey.
In a 2009 interview for the Trenton City Museum’s newsletter, Chavooshian shares her secret as to why her paintings engage: “Utilizing photography has its advantages, but working from nature is the most sincere form of painting.”
The award will be presented to the artist at Garden State Watercolor Society’s 43rd Annual Juried Exhibition reception, Saturday, October 13, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Prallsville Mills, Stockton, NJ. For more information: www.gardenstatewatercolorsociety.net.
On Sunday afternoon, October 14, Francois Guillemin, known as le Corbeau, discusses his work and current retrospective at the Trenton City Museum, “Naturally, Man-Made and in Full View: The Art of le Corbeau.”
“I have always seen myself as someone who has trained my eye to see, and my mind to reinterpret what I see into a physical realization that will reveal something new. I often approach these realizations with a sense of science and try to imbue them with a sense of humor, spirituality, and poetry. I see my work sometimes as an end product, but usually as a temporary solution to an ongoing problem in different stages of being solved,” says the artist.
The Hopewell-based Guillemin has been making art for the past 40 years, using various techniques and materials to create jewelry, sculpture, furniture, decorative objects, and lighting.
“Le Corbeau’s work is characteristically Surrealist in that he most often assembles ‘found objects’ into provocative relationships creating three dimensional metaphors. Like many traditional Surrealists, le Corbeau is seduced by the beauty of the objects he chooses, and when asked whether his motives were aesthetic over metaphoric, he insisted they were equally important,” writes Edith Innis for the artist’s 1986 solo exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum.
That seduction by beauty is evident in the Trenton show which continues to November 4.
The artist was born in Texas in 1954 to French-born parents –– a musician mother and a father who had received a Nobel Prize for his work in neuroendocrinology.
His early life saw stays in both in France and the United States Southwest, where the artist was inspired by Native American tradition of taking a name to correspond with an animal spirit. His adopted is French for “the crow.”
Although by high school le Corbeau had already mastered jewelry making, he enrolled in a forestry school in San Diego. Wisely, he left after a year, joined an artist community, and intensified his work in jewelry and sculpture.
In 1976 he moved to Princeton to work at the Johnson Atelier, and nine years later decided that he would start his own business. In 2007 he opened his Firedance Studio in Hopewell where he creates and displays sculpture, furniture, and ornamental metalwork. He has also collaborated on architectural and ornamental metalwork projects with such recognized architects as Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, Richard Meier, Robert Hillier, and others.
Gallery walk with le Corbeau, Trenton City Museum. Sunday, October 14, 2 p.m. For more information: www.ellarslie.org.