Last Wednesday, I travelled north through the miles of highly populated highways along the Hudson River’s New York and New Jersey divide to attend the opening of the 24th Annual NJ Small Works Show at Mikhail Zakin Gallery in Demarest, New Jersey. Juror Rachael Faillace, the Executive Director of the Rahway Arts Guild Inc. and former Director of the Mikhail Zakin Gallery, selected a substantial array of artwork that did not exclude any one type of media. The only limitation: each work may not exceed 18″ in any direction, so mixed media work hung side-by-side with photography, encaustic painting, fiber art, ceramic sculpture, functional clay, one-of-a-kind jewelry, printmaking and collage.
My jewelry piece, Widget Locket #4: Homage to Mexico debuted in this exhibit. As discussed in a prior post, my locket uses motifs derived from the history of Mexico’s decorative arts with text snippets taken from the headlines one reads on scrolling computer widgets and smart phones. Using this Widget Locket as an example, Gallery Director John J. McGurk set up/installed this show in such a highly professional manner with such refined sensibilities as one can readily see in his meticulous approach to the display of both fine craft and painterly/2-D media.
Patricia Malarcher’s Cloud is a gorgeous fiber piece that uses encaustic to enhance and create waves of unequal origin around a center matrix of sewn fabric. The entire piece’s monochromatic tonality makes one feel as though he/she is looking at a sort of celestial “cloud” or falling star. The ridges that Malarcher draws with her needle and thread create a pinwheel effect that one can imagine if this object were to be floating through a sky, it would be a surviving entity due to its strong interior core of wax over fiber. Incidentally, Malarcher was the editor for nearly twenty years of the prestigious and widely-regarded Surface Design Journal. This publication of the Surface Design Association features articles that focus on contemporary textile and fiber-based art forms.
Ceramic artist Risa Hirsch Ehrlich is a prolific clay artist who lives and maintains her studio in New York City. Two Vases Alike is a sculptural clay work that serves a bi-purpose of being functional vases. Two columns appear elegantly side-by-side, wrapped like fabric and imply that they are actually fired clay slabs that are secured by dark patinated metal clips. One imagines architectural columns that have been worn by the elements throughout history, with its subtle areas of color change along the surfaces. Risa in her artist statement embraces the various ways the beauty of her pieces come about: “I like clay beginning frail and ending powerful. I like challenging clay to be beautiful despite my efforts to disdain beauty.”
Painter Hilary Shank-Kuhl’s encaustic painting Passing Storm is a haunting landscape of magnificent depth despite its small-scale canvas. This work was chosen by The New York Times’ Metro section as the pictorial announcement to this NJ Small Works exhibit. Kuhl has a masterful sense of hatching lines as she draws vividly through the wax pigments and creates a true path of movement along the waterway that allows one to believe he/she is about to move through that meandering water in the painting’s center and end up at the horizon of ominous clouds.
The 24th Annual NJ Small Works Juried Show features work by 32 artists exhibiting this month at Mikhail Zakin Gallery, July 19th through August 7th, 2013, located at 561 Piermont Road in Demarest, New Jersey, approximately 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan.
Except where noted, images appear courtesy of the artists.