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Tom George’s Clever Benefit
This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 12, 1999. All rights reserved.
If "one good turn deserves another," how
about 100 of them? If Princeton resident Tom George, an internationally-known
artist, has decided to give 100 gifts to the Arts Council of Princeton’s
capital campaign, who are we to stand in his way? Especially when
we’re the best ones to help realize his gift.
On Friday and Saturday, May 14 and 15, we can swallow hard and bite
the bullet — we can purchase one or more of the art works that
George has earmarked for sale to benefit the Arts Council — and
enjoy owning it for the rest of our lives. Duty calls.
In quite an unusual gesture, George recently decided this was how
he might do his considerable bit for the Arts Council. A very pleased
Debbie Gwazda, coordinating the event for the organization, points
out that "when artists donate work, they make no profit."
They can’t write off the value of the art work — they can claim
only the raw materials that went into making each piece.
Three types of artwork will be offered for sale: line drawings in
ink of trees in Marquand Park and some Asian-inspired landscape sketches;
flower studies in brilliant watercolor; and landscapes in pastel.
Sizes start at about 12 by 18 inches, and, priced from $250 to $1,200,
all works will be matted. In the spirit of immediate gratification,
buyers may walk away with their purchases.
"These drawings, watercolors, and pastels are all done directly
from nature," says George. "They are the foundation of the
abstract painting I do in the studio and can be considered research
or as finished works in themselves. The important point, however,
is that they are what gives a solid ring of truth to my paintings
as a whole."
A champagne preview, on Friday, May 14, from 6 to 8 p.m., provides
the first look at works that the artist is letting go — and for
much less than usual gallery prices. Those interested in the reception,
at $50 a person, should phone the Arts Council to reserve an invitation
(609-924-8777). Also by advance reservation, the Saturday open house
and studio sale runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with all works displayed
in the Georges’ home on Greenhouse Drive. Originally part of the Moses
Taylor Pyne estate that included Drumthwacket and a park with formal
gardens and a zoo, the building itself is charmingly noteworthy.
George is a citizen of the world as well as Princeton. He was born
in 1918 in New York, graduated from Dartmouth, and studied in New
York, Paris, and Florence before his first solo show in New York in
1955. Both art and creativity in general run in the George family.
His father was Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist whose name has entered
the lingua franca for his drawings of notoriously complicated and
whimsical machines that achieved simple ends by means of mechanical
gizmos of absurd complexity. Goldberg reportedly gave his two sons
a surname that would enable them to grow up unencumbered by the family
fame. (Goldberg’s cartoons live on in cyberspace at rubegoldberg.com.)
Laverne George, a long-time docent of the Princeton University Art
Museum, has been instrumental in its children’s programming.
George’s quieter art is represented in museums and collections around
the world, from New York and Washington to London to Norway, where
the Georges summered for many years. Closer to home, it can be seen
at the Art Museum Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced
Study, and the New Jersey State Museum, in Trenton.
All proceeds will go to the Capital Campaign for a Re-Imagined Arts
Center. Since its launch about a year ago, the campaign has realized
almost $3 million of its $4 million goal toward renovating and adding
to its premises at the corner of Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson
Place. Architect Michael Graves’ design for the addition — also
a gift to the Arts Council — will both enhance and expand offerings
there. Hella McVay, community leader, and board member Micaela de
Lignerolles are co-chairing the Tom George studio sale.
"What you learn outside comes inside," George says of his
work, which, however abstract, echoes the basic shapes he knows from
long years of intimacy with nature. He often paints and uses pastels
outdoors. Recently described as "a second generation abstract
expressionist," George concurred, "In my case, you don’t think
— you feel."
In a salon talk last year, the artist mentioned intuition and truth
as the basis for all he does, yet stressed the inescapable technical
side: "You have to know what you’re doing." He can turn any
medium into what he wants it to be — for instance, his deep-toned
watercolors, his acrylics with oil-like effects. And he stresses painting
the part but looking at the whole.
Energetic and twinkly, with an appealing hearty laugh, George theorized
that art historians and artists look at things from different ends
of the telescope. "I’m doing weird things," he said. His salon
companion, the art historian and dealer Gary Snyder, put it differently:
"Tom George is dealing with the mysteries."
— Pat Summers
Champagne preview ($50) is Friday, May 14, at 6 p.m. Sale takes
place Saturday, May 15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call to register.
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