About 30 viewers visited “Art Connections 8” during its soft opening this past Tuesday at Montclair State University’s prestigious George Segal Gallery. Come Sunday afternoon, January 22, expect at least 20 times that number at the public reception—attracted over 700 art lovers, collectors and well wishers.
They won’t be disappointed; the 152-piece juried show representing 115 artists engages, inspires and delights at every turn.
Let’s get right to the big attraction: This Sunday, renowned sculptor, printmaker and Newark native son Willie Cole—he lives and works in more rural NJ haunts now—will personally deliver what will be the exhibit’s piece de resistance: the bronze “Shoo Fly,” one of his famed high heeled shoe based works—others have been exhibited at the Montclair Art Museum. At about $15,000, it represents the top price in the show. Other works range between mostly $150 to $5,000 and there are treasures to be had at the lower range—more about those in a moment.
“This is a brand new sculpture right from Cole’s studio and available to the collector,” said Montclair’s Patricia Selden, a fine arts advisor, trustee of the Montclair Art Museum and George Segal Gallery board member. Selden will hold a conversation with Willie Cole and landscape painter Michael Eade on Sunday in a special collector’s preview and tour at 1 p.m. in the gallery. “But you don’t need an invitation to attend,” explained Director of the Montclair State University Art Galleries Teresa Rodriguez. “Just call 973-655-3382 to register.”
Both Cole and Eade received special invitations to exhibit; other participating artists were chosen by guest curator Lisa Suss of West Orange, returning to Art Connections for the second year.
“I looked for pieces that would appeal to not only a variety of interests, but also different levels of art buyers,” says Suss. Proceeds are split 50-50 between the artists and the gallery and help underwrite exhibitions there and the University’s permanent collections.
As to the other Cole and the Eade works on view, Cole is known for his powerful, political pieces that transform ironing boards and the imprint of a steam iron into symbols of oppression and protest. Here at Art Connections, Cole’s brightly colored 2011 serigraph “Home and Hearth,” uses his iron iconography to create sperm swimming in and about a womb.
Eade is represented by three of his magical landscapes, a monochromatic piece that evokes Japanese art and two recent works, “Change of Season” and “Green Apple Branch,” in egg tempera that reward close looking.
Also prominent among the exhibiting artists is Montclair State University art professor and internationally known photographer Nancy Goldring who has donated her “Farnese Theater Angels” to the exhibit. “She fuses different elements in her works,” Rodriguez said.
That photograph is priced on the high end; Montclair’s Yvette Lucas’ archetypal landscape “Mother,” monumentalized “U-Bahn, Berlin,” and Maplewood’s Joy Yagid’s owl portraits can be had for under for a few hundred. West Orange’s Bill Cofone finds layers of color and textures in “Fall Puddle” and David Grunwald’s “Spider Web” ensnares.
Back at the higher end, Montclair’s Allan Gorman’s photo realist based oil paintings are standouts as are abstractions by West Orange’s Lisa Pressman, Leslie Ford and Alyce Gottesman.
Many of the pieces invite the writing of stories, especially Maplewood’s Evelyn Grave’s two saxophone driven, urban collages, West Orange’s Julie Levine’s mixed media, autobiographical piece and—no relation--Montclair’s Jennifer Levine’s “Showdown on Church Street.”
Judy Rubino is back, again transforming human hair into works of mystery, and Rodriguez talked about Rubino’s two painted plastic resin sculptures: “They’re magical, like sea forms.”
The show installation has once again been masterfully designed by Anthony Louis Rodriguez. Many of the participating artists will answer questions about their art at the public reception on Sunday, January 22 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. To attend the conversation with Willie Cole and Michael Eade and to hear Patricia Selden’s discussion on collecting, call 973-655-3382. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. Entry is from the 4th floor of the Red Hawk Parking Deck adjacent to the Alexander Kasser Theater on the Montclair State University Campus.