Art by American war veterans, an exhibition featuring veteran regional artists, and a reading and party launching a new book by a Princeton small press promises to keep the eye and the ear busy over the coming week.
The Arts Council of Princeton launches into 2016 with the exhibition “Down To Earth: Artists Inspired By The Elements.”
Taking their artistic cues from Earth, Wind, and Fire are three accomplished regional artists: Olivia Jupillat of Princeton, Paul Mordetsky of Hightstown, and Alice Simms-Gunzenhauser of Kingston.
Jupillat, an artist who also is also a manager of the Corkscrew Winery in Princeton, connects her fascination with root and earth structures to an introduction to viticulture in wine school when her studies became physical and she “could touch the sands, taste the dirt, and see the different strides in the rocks where ancient water once was.”
Artist and Mercer County College and West Windsor Arts Council instructor Mordetsky sees landscape painting “as a forum for representing space and light within the graphic language.” For this exhibition, he shows work inspired by fire, noting fire and smoke “imply states of mind, passion, and inspiration rather than some apocalyptic vision. I find the notion of light in darkness to be a powerful and poetic image.”
Sims-Gunzenhauser is painter and print-maker fascinated with line, abstraction, and the boundary “between representational line and calligraphic, gestural, directional line.” An editor as well as a test developer for ETS, she also creates works combining natural images and written text.
Down To Earth, Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. Opens with a reception on Saturday, February 6, 3 to 5 p.m., and remains on view through Saturday, February 27. Free. 609-924-8777 or www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.
At the Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, the exhibition “Combat Paper NJ” begins its six-week exhibition on Friday, February 5.
The title comes from the name of the organization — one created by and for military war veterans who turn military uniforms into pulp and make paper for silkscreens and prints.
Combat Paper New Jersey is a program of the Printmaking Center of New Jersey and national network — launched in 2004 when Iraq-war army veteran Drew Cameron took artist Drew Matott’s papermaking workshop at a community college in Burlington, Vermont.
As the two’s collaboration and friendship expanded, so did their ideas about bringing attention to the problems caused by the war. Matott was inspired by an art exhibition using paper made from AIDS victims’ clothing and developed a “transformative” process to assist veterans to transform themselves through art.
In addition to using the military clothing as a medium, the veteran-artists involve trained and professional artists and incorporate photographs, iconic images, and words to reflect their experiences.
The project was officially launched in 2007, and the founders conducted workshops and increased the network of warrior-artists, including those who would shape Combat Paper NJ.
Since its founding in 2011, Combat Paper NJ has conducted over 150 workshops, presentations, and exhibitions in New Jersey and beyond. Among others, the director of the program, David Keefe, will be speaking at a panel set for Wednesday, March 9. A reception is also planned for the event.
Combat Paper NJ, Bernstein Gallery, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reception and the panel discussion, Wednesday, March 9, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Free. wws.princeton.edu/bernstein
‘Dark as a Hazel Eye: Coffee & Chocolate Poems” — the Princeton-based Ragged Sky Press’s new anthology of bean-inspired works — makes its debut with a launch party at the Princeton Public Library on Monday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m.
“After the successful publication of Ragged Sky Press’ first poetry anthology in 2009 — “Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems” — RSP editors have come upon two irresistible cultural icons around which to gather a group of poems and poets,” editors Ellen Foos, Vasiliki Katsarou, and Lynne Shapiro note in a statement.
While the thematic choice seems commonplace, it is fraught with significance, as the editors point out how the use of these decidedly New World products transformed the rituals and habits of the Old World with their connections to pleasure, energy, inspiration, and event addiction.
Yet there is something deeper, darker, and sacramental in this artistic brew. “Subject to transmutation, coffee and chocolate begin as beans and end in cream, foam, fume. Flavors that range from bitter to sweet. For some, coffee is an acquired taste, a bitter portend of vices to come. For others, chocolate is the vice, the very metaphor for sexual pleasure, with a melting point on the tongue like no other food or drink,” note the editors.
Over 50 established and emerging poets are represented. That includes Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer; nationally known writers Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Simic, and James Richardson; and other writers of state and regional prominence, including Carlos Hernandez Pena, Hayden Saunie, Maxine Susman, B.J. Ward, Ruth Zamoyta, and others.
Also represented are Foos, Ragged Sky Press founder, a production editor for Princeton University Press, MacDowell Colony poet, and Princeton resident; Katsarou, the Hunterdon County-based Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, past Dodge Poetry Festival poet, and digital communications strategist for the Princeton University Council on the Humanities; and the Hoboken-based Shapiro, a frequently published poet who is also the recipient of several NEA grants and fellowships for poetry projects in Lithuania and Poland.
Dark as a Hazel Eye: Chocolate & Coffee Poems, Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. Launch reading and publication party, Monday, February 8, 7:30 p.m. Free admission, books available for $15. 609-924-9529, www.princetonlibrary.org, or www.raggedsky.com.