(SUMMIT, NJ) — On Friday, September 16, 2022, the Visual Art Center of New Jersey (VACNJ) will begin a year-long celebration of its 90th Anniversary by opening its fall exhibition, Ripple Effect. The show will feature artwork by 37 of the Art Center’s teaching artists who have transformed and enriched lives through the shared experience of art and will run through Sunday, January 8, 2023.
The exhibition title speaks to the far-reaching impact of the faculty who impart their well-honed skills and expertise to students of all ages in the Studio School and community programs. Spanning both the Main Gallery and the Mitzi & Warren Eisenberg Gallery, the exhibition explores three themes—abstract works, works exploring natural and built environments, and works that plumb the space between the imagined and the real. The groupings form connections between the participating artists whose practices include painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and textiles.
“The Art Center is honored to routinely recognize the contributions of its instructors, paying homage to the fellowship of artists who founded the organization in 1933,” said Director of Exhibitions, Kristen Evangelista. “In the past, our faculty exhibitions have been used to commemorate institutional milestones, so with that in mind, we thought it only fitting to kick off our anniversary with a show celebrating our teaching artists.”
VACNJ’s Main Gallery showcases artists’ observations of the world around us, highlighting nearby rivers, historic landmarks, and industrial sites. Mark de Mos and Janice Patrignani’s works reflect the solace found in experiencing nature during the pandemic while Donna Conklin King and Judy Hugentobler respond to decaying environments. Valerie Larko, Duane Lutsko, and Howard Nathenson portray the confluence of the natural world and the built environment as plumes of smoke mirror billowing clouds and smokestacks evoke towering trees.
Also on view in the Main Gallery, the second thematic grouping features artworks that hover between the imagined and the real. The artists in this section are examining their personal relation to perception, emotion, and flights of imagination. Through their photographs, Joanna Murdock and Chris Lopez capture uncanny moments in everyday life. Heidi SanFilippo and Mansa Mussa use collage-based imagery as a way of helping others process their own experiences in a positive way. The paintings of Mary Jean Canziani, Stephen Yavorski, and Eli Winter create tableaus that draw the viewer into a deeply personal world.
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The Eisenberg Gallery focuses on abstract works featuring innovative mark-making and striking color combinations. Among them, Chase Cantwell, Jessica Garber, and Matthew Langley use cubes, circles, and geometric designs to evoke spatial shifts, movement, and rhythmic patterns. Anita Gladstone and Diana Hsu Kung transform rugged terrains into formal explorations of vibrant fractured shapes.
Additionally, Emi Winter will present a large woven abstract rug, Tree of Life, in the Stair-gazing gallery. The piece, which was woven by Tito Mendoza Ruiz in Oaxaca, Mexico, is named for the “Arbol de la vida” or tree of life, which is a common theme in many rugs. Winter’s design is inspired by the patterns of weavers Bulmaro Pérez, Jacobo Mendoza, and Mario Mendoza Gutiérrez.
In conjunction with Ripple Effect, the Marité and Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery I will feature the documentation of the 90-year history of the Art Center, including rarely seen photographs, print materials, past publications, and a nearly 40-foot-long timeline, outlining key events in the organization’s history.
Artists featured in Ripple Effect include: James Adkins, Doug Baron, Kat Block, Melissa Bragg-Krishnamurthy, Chase Cantwell, Mary Jean Canziani, Beatrice Chang, Donna Conklin King, Mark de Mos, Alicia Flynn Cotter, Jessica Garber, Andrea Gianchiglia, Anita Gladstone, Gerry Heydt, Judith Hugentobler, Diana Hsu Kung, Matthew Langley, Valeri Larko, Christopher Lopez, Duane Lustko, Joanna Madloch, Drew Maillard, Martha McDonald, Jeanette Mullarkey, Mansa Mussa, Howard Nathenson, Dawn Noonan, Janice Patrignani, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem, Shelley Rosan Howard, Sandy Ruda, Heidi SanFilippo, Peter Syak, Joel Tidey, Katie Truk, Emi Winter, and Stephen Yavorski.
As a complement to the show, VACNJ will host a series of events over the duration of the exhibition, including “The Narrative Impulse” panel discussion on Saturday, September 24 at 2:00pm, and a second panel discussion titled “Observing Observation: The Role of Environment in Artmaking” on Saturday, October 22 at 2:00pm PM.Additionally, the Art Center will host a Last Look Closing Event on Sunday, January 8, 2023 at 2:00pm, which will feature an informal artist talk.
For 90 years, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey has been exclusively dedicated to viewing, making, and learning about contemporary art. Recognized as a leading non-profit arts organization, the Art Center’s renowned Studio School, acclaimed exhibitions, and educational outreach initiatives serve thousands of youth, families, seniors, and people with special needs every year.
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is located at 68 Elm Street in Summit, NJ. Gallery hours: Monday– Thursday, 10:00am–8:00pm; Friday & Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; and Sunday, 11:00am–4:00pm. Please call 908.273.9121 to confirm holiday hours.
Significant support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided by the Wilf Family Foundation; Peter R. & Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation; New Jersey State Council on the Arts; The Estate of Pamela Hauptfleisch; and the Art Center community of supporters.
IMAGES: (TOP) Valeri Larko, Underpass, Dyre Ave Station, Bronx, 2018, Oil on linen, 33 x 56 inches, Courtesy of the artist. (MIDDLE) Chase Cantwell, Cubes X, 2021, Encaustic, 11 x 14 inches, Courtesy of the artist. (BOTTOM) Christopher Lopez, Untitled, 2020, Photograph, 14 x 11 inches, Courtesy of the artist.