Some say opposites attract. Others say like attracts like. If you fuse those two phrases together, you embark on this automatic intimacy. One where two worlds collide, yet play off each other in a noncompetitive sense. This was the chemistry that balanced the atmosphere at the Mystical Abstraction Exhibit, on Thursday June 8th at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties in Montclair.
The Mystical Abstraction Exhibit featured Yard School of Art teacher Nanci Iovino, and Berkshire Hathaway’s very own agent Keisha Singleton. These two women embody the very definition of opposites attract, and like attracts like. Upon conversing with both women distinct personalities were displayed, and in addition, different careers. Yet, their artwork paired together is dynamic. Their skills, spirit and passion for creating pieces is effervescent. Although, funnily enough, both were hesitant by nature to showcase a solo Exhibit.
Enter Berkshire Hathaway agent Lynne Oliver Director and Curator of The Gallery, who suggested they collaborate and show their works together. Thus, the Mystical Abstraction Exhibit was born. Lynne’s eye for curating art is truly extraordinary, as she organized different works to coincide with one another.
When asked which piece in the collection she was most proud, Nanci explained, “It’s a hard question because – each animal that I chose, is chosen for a reason. So it’s kind of like asking me to pick my favorite child. Ok… I can answer it. So the hippo that’s over there in the corner, is a completely different technique for me. I’m just starting to teach myself that. More of like – instead of being so tight and working so small and detailed. This is more fluid. And so I’m proud of how that came out.”
Nanci’s artwork makes you stop dead in your tracks, as you can’t help but be in awe of her impeccable artistry. “Loooooook at that detail,” states Steven A. Janett COO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, who was admiring the Colorful Iguana piece.
Her inspiration behind this collection, “Even though I’ve been formerly trained and I have a proper education in art, I’ve always like doodling as a meditative process to kind of decompress, like after a stressful time. And being an art teacher, a lot of times I’ll use animals to connect children to the world and different cultures and different societies. Using animals to use my own connection to the planet and my emotions just evolved in that sort of thing.” In addition, Nanci mentioned how her daughter Malorie’s, previous trips to Italy and Thailand inspired her pieces by working through her nervousness.
The one thing Nanci can’t live without in her studio? Her pens! Nanci likes to use water soluble ink to draw before painting. Greeted with a kiss by her vibrant husband Joe, Nanci made the rounds greeting and illustrating the meaning behind her artwork to colleagues and attendees.
Berkshire Hathaway agent Keisha Singleton declined to do a recorded interview, and opted for a personal conversation instead. Keisha has been with Berkshire Hathaway since 2014 as her true passion lies in real estate. This is because it “speaks to her crazy”. One thing she admires about real estate is the art behind it. With each home you are exposed to a different assortment of architecture that goes through the process of designing, planning and construction. Much like her works of art.
Admittedly, shy speaking about herself, Keisha’s lively aura resonated as she floated around The Gallery articulating her pieces amongst attendees through a heartfelt manner. Her abstract art work displayed on large canvas, radiated in bold colors, combining smooth and rough textures. Both warm and cold hues running into each other with a genuine freedom. This freedom also happens to be the inspiration for her paintings. Keisha expressed that she never signs the front of her paintings, so one can turn the art pieces however they desire.
Both styles of art displayed were overwhelming stimulating, as eyes darted from one picture to the next. People from different ages and backgrounds came together, reminding you that THIS is the magic of Montclair.
The Mystical Abstraction Exhibit will be displayed through July 31st. Please be sure to check it out these two incredible talents. All pictures available for purchase.
A true artist never lets anything rain on their parade. In fact, they are familiar with weathering the storm. Even the physical one that graced us with its presence this past Thursday, April 6th. You see, Mother Nature is perhaps thee greatest mentor that often gets overlooked. Mother Nature exudes confidence when it paints the world; never hesitating where to place the next brush stroke.
On Thursday April 6th, The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway had the pleasure of hosting the opening Exhibit of The Montclair 10 Redux. Curators, Educators, Artists, and Volunteers are just some of the titles these talented artists hold. All ten artists are employed at the Montclair Art Museum, making this showcase even more exceptional. As they communicate with each other through work, so does their art. Spaced out on the gallery walls, these pieces, although very different harmonize through their visual aesthetics.
Mural Mural on the wall, Dan Fenelon is your guy to call. Changing up his art from murals to smaller pieces, Dan, based out of Morristown, NJ trained at the Arts Student League in NY and the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. Currently, he is the operator and resident artist of the MAM art truck. This truck travels through NJ facilitating art projects with willing participants. With one man shows in galleries all across the US, Dan has two pieces in the exhibit titled Tripartite#1 and #2. If you’re not familiar with the word tripartite it means, consisting of three parts. Dan makes this prevalent in his two pieces displayed. In addition, his use of layering is truly impressive. There’s an exposed vulnerability masked under the surface of colorful shapes and lines that dares you to dig deeper.
Aggie Wszolkowska hails from Poland. A country so immersed in art, that during WWII it went through great lengths to protect its artistic treasures storing them in allied nations. Emigrating to the US during her teenage years, she gained her BFA at Rutgers majoring in painting and minoring in Anthropology. Later, she went on to receive her Masters at Seton Hall University. In this exhibit Aggie has two pieces both labeled Untitled. As the only artist in this exhibit to have her work featured on wood, she brings a unique element. A wood panel is sturdier than a canvas, allowing Aggie to paint as soft or rough as she wants without worrying about her piece buckling or cracking. Aggie also explores painting in Braille by interpreting its visual codes. It’s quite touching.
Although she’s not related to Karl (well, not that we know of), Susan Marx is quite the philosopher. When it comes to art her advice is, “Forget about selling, paint just to paint. Sales is…I mean its like gravy, but if you’re going to paint to sell that’s a commercial artist. You need to paint whats inside your soul.” As an abstract impressionist, Susan has one feature in this exhibit titled Color Song. Susan’s inspiration behind this piece is, “The color themselves inspired me. If I put down one stroke – oh what would go next to that. And then it sort of like develops. And I put the cool next to the warm, and it almost looks like a flower. But its not a flower.” Painting since the age of four, Susan obtained her BFA at Boston University. Susan filled the event with her energetic and hilarious spirit. Susan’s life advice for artists is,“They say you need a good ten years, after college till you find out who you are. So you’re not painting what they teach you.”
Hip hip gourds-yay! OH MY GOURD that was so corny, butgourds are huge in the art world. So huge, there are enthusiasts who have amassed thousands throughout the years. Gourds serve as a multipurpose entity with lots of colors and patterns. This is what drew Benedetta Balsimelli to them. Similar to the versatile gourds, Benedetta has one impressive resume. She received aPhD in History of Art with a concentration in Theory of Conservation at University of Siena, Italy. She’s discussed her thesis with Professor Marco Ciatti, a global leader in the field of art restoration. She’s worked at an Art Museum & Paleontological Museum in Montevarchi Italy. As well as, interned for the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Conservation Group in Chelsea. Still not impressed? Benedetta started painting with watercolors only four years ago! As a newbie Benedetta says, “It’s never too late and [she] always advises to take classes because its the foundation of everything. You learn so much and you can use the techniques you have and play with them.” Her pieces in this exhibit are titled Studio #1 and Studio #2.
What do Henri Matisse and an old oak tree in Basking Ridge have in common? They were Martha Kelshaw’s inspiration for her current piece, Inspired by Historic White Oak. Martha recalls, “…recently, we have this great old oak tree in Basking Ridge, NJ out my way in Somerset County. It goes back to George Washington times. And the poor tree is in this graveyard and its roots are coming up and it’s actually dead. And they are going to be taking it down.” And like Matisse, Martha’s piece is not afraid of color. In fact, her piece grasps onto color and portrays the life of the 600-year-old tree. Martha explains, “[Her] art works content-emphasis is on figures set within complex social situations and physical environments.” She is the Manager of Public Relations at the Montclair Art Museum. She’s earned her BFA at The Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA at Montclair State.
2016 was the year of politics! Regardless of which side you supported it was a truly chaotic year. We haven’t seen anything this crazy since…well never! Thus came the inspiration for Nanci Iovino’s latest piece in the exhibit. Taking twelve hours to complete, Nanci recounts, “Well, the lion is called stressed, and it had a lot to do with the election process cause that was really stressful. And the horse is coexists – It’s after the election and all the events that we going on with immigrants and things like that. They are recent pieces, definitely felt from my heart.” Upon observation, the movement in each piece says it all. The lion is loud, prideful and filled with strength and courage. While the horse navigates through this new normal seeking connections. Gaining a BFA from Syracuse, you can explore more of Nanci’s work on Etsy.
Etsy Shop: SpiritanimalsbyNanci
Before Pinterest was known as the holy grail of digital collages, most people constructed them by hand. Enter Peg Kenselaar’s collage titled The Village. Once your eyes lock onto it, you’ll be hypnotized by the liveliness. The shapes, colors and patterns are assembled in such a way, that bare resemblance to a village. Also inspired by Matisse, the spirit of this collage is conversational. The technique of cutting paper and objects is often under appreciated. Many people never experience the true merit that comes from a single cut. Its about precision and knowing where to cease. The materials used to create this piece were all donated, recycled and repurposed. Peg has been been an educator for over 20 years at MAM.
Upon laying eyes on Julian Tejera’s piece Study in Grey and Yellow, a flashback of the girl in the red coat from Schindler’s List appeared. Although, this piece isn’t parallel to that story in anyway. The primary color yellow, used in the portrait stands out just like the red coat did. The yellow illuminates a warmth in a stagnant world. Julian says, “[This] was actually just experimentation on, black and white and then with a little bit of color. I hired a model for a class, and then paid her for an extra hour of photoshoots and drawing. So it was one of several experiments that came out of that.” His second piece After A Long Dayis a bit more personal. Julian explains, “So, the one of the woman reclining is my mother. So its just the scenes that I see almost everyday, just kind of walking up the stairs, with her dog. She was just resting after work and the light was really nice and it was – that relationship between her and her pet. They’re always together.” Julian received his BFA at Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and an MFA at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. When it comes to struggling artists, Julian gives sound advice, “Because I had a heard time learning how to paint and all that. I definitely recognize that struggle. So what was told to me was advice by an illustrator Greg Manchess, who basically said, ‘Just draw all the time. Draw when you want to draw and especially draw when you don’t want to draw. Because there is no such thing as talent, its all about hard work. So the more you give the better your work becomes and the art returns as well.’”
Dowsing is so controversial, Solving History dedicated an episode to it. Dowsing is the method of locating water, metal, gems etc. using a Y or L shaped twig or rod. Its a pastime and the inspiration for Elizabeth Seaton’s latest work Dowsing. She recalls, “When I was a child, I saw my grandparents dowsing for water with a fork stick. And you sense something like a tug underground. When I was eight, and I thought that couldn’t possibly work. But when I tried it, I felt it too! An then they drill down and there was water under there. So for me its kind of a symbol for looking for something deep of sensing it.” The beauty in art is the education you acquire through each piece. Elizabeth received her BA in Fine Arts and Anthropology from Rutgers and her MFA at Vermont College, Norwich University. In her artist statement, she expresses, “The faceless women actively pursue highly symbolic missions and projects of their own – like dowsing for water, a life-giving source that is buried deep.”
Lisa G. Westheimer likes to play with fire! Not only does she play with fire, she teaches alternate firing techniques such as raku and saggar at The Covent of Sacred Heart School in Manhattan. If you’re unfamiliar with this, take a look for yourself…
Presenting Jessica Sporns “Passing Magic: A Journey Through Color and Shapes”
“Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic, you know,” especially if you attended Jessica Sporn’s “Passing Magic: A Journey Through Color and Shapes show.” at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties on Thursday, October 6, 2016.
From the moment you walked into The Gallery and signed the guest book, you were delightfully greeted with vibrant customized business cards sporting the designs in Jessica’s latest collection. As you strolled through to take a closer look, you couldn’t help but be immersed in the bold color theme. All created within this past year, Jessica’s pieces are infused with warm and cool hues.
“I would say it’s a mixture of yoga and color, and just trying to go inward and find inspiration but also embrace the outward too,” Jessica explained. As the colors unapologetically blended into each other creating a beautiful contrast, the shapes did not. Reminiscent of yoga, the lines bend and form together to create a shape, while still maintaining enough space to know their boundaries.
Pictured next to her favorite piece, Jessica recites a quote from Picasso – that says, “‘Genius has to find you working,’ so I think that’s really important to like – I just get up every day. This is what I do. And I paint and I doodle and I draw.”
A former attorney in a Wall Street law firm, Jessica decided to pursue her passion for art while on maternity leave and hasn’t looked back since. With a gleeful expression she says, “…it [her art] was very two-dimensional, sort of flat, farm figures and things – children’s art oriented. And as time went on, I just stared experimenting in more media and basically took classes and studied YouTube videos and so I like to think it’s gotten a little more sophisticated and abstract; in playing with the abstract too.”
Jessica’s designs are so moving that it caught the eye of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s family members. “The day after the shootings in Orlando and after that beautiful Tony Award speech, I had done a water color that was a heart with like mosaics all around it, in all different colors. And I had posted a quote from his speech in the middle of the heart,” Jessica recounted. Lin-Manuel’s sister and brother in-law recognized this creative painting. After some slight tweaking and a brief collaboration with graphic designers, she was able to get her #loveislove t-shirt out. To date, it has helped raise over $50,000 for the Broadway Cares Equity/Fights Aids Orlando organization.
Having a lucrative career as an artist is never an easy feat. The art scene in Montclair is unique. It has the charm of a vibrant Southern city mixed in with the abundance of a Northern city’s resources, ideal for any artist to flourish. Jessica’s artistic sensibilities were able to thrive in this atmosphere, especially since she is a lifelong resident. “My biggest advice [for aspiring artists] is to just be open and say yes. So when an opportunity presents itself, just go for it.”
Montclair residents have many opportunities to explore varied art venues. It has its own art museum, the Montclair Art Museum, affectionately known as MAM, along with several small galleries. Montclair also hosts two movie theaters, one that highlights independent films and documentaries. The first annual Film Festival was hosted in 2012, which provides a platform for filmmakers from not only New Jersey, but from throughout the US and the world. Such notable actors as Sally Field and Richard Gere were past participants. There is live theatre as well, including the Montclair Operetta Company, the Wellmont Theatre, which offers many musical shows, Montclair State University’s Kasser Theater, Life Hall and the Studio Playhouse. The township also hosts an Annual Jazz Festival. As you can see, if you enjoy the arts, then Montclair is a perfect place for you to live!
Jessica Sporn’s “Passing Magic: A Journey Through Color and Shapes” exhibition is on display from October 1st – November 30th at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties. The Show will also be featured in The Montclair Art Walk on Oct 21st, so stop by our Gallery On The Art Walk!
Art for Art’s Sake: The Montclair Art Garage Encourages Students of All Ages to Develop their Skills
Teaching art began as a side project for Suzanne O’Conner. She ran the studio in its first incarnation out of her own garage, initially intending it just for personal use, but soon began giving private lessons to local children. Later, she began the New Jersey Drawing Society, an open-studio art session for adults on Thursday nights. Her business eventually became so successful that it became necessary to purchase commercial space in Montclair.
The Montclair Art Garage seeks to provide artists of all ages with a relaxing workspace. Students are encouraged to develop their skills through both traditional and non-traditional methods. The instructors emphasize respect for all forms of art—at the Garage, all forms of creativity are supported, encouraged and enriched. A variety of classes are offered here, including Drawing, Painting, Collage, Portraiture, Advanced Comics courses for adults, even photography and animation workshops. Young students quickly learn that art is not just limited to paper and colored pencils. Instructors expose them to all kinds of mediums, from traditional acrylic paint to digital tablet art.
During a family vacation in Cape May, O’Conner happened to catch a performance by musician Jeffrey Gaines. O’Conner’s own family has a rich background in music. Her husband, Tim, and their daughter both perform in bands, and their son is a talented drummer. The show inspired her to introduce live music to the Art Garage’s impressive repertoire of programs. Musicians have walked into the Art Garage relatively unknown and walked out with enthusiastic new fans. Past performers include the Mastersons, Richard Barone, John Wesley Harding, Whitehorse, and even Jeffrey Gaines, whose performance first inspired O’Conner to bring live music into the fold. James Maddock and Garland Jeffreys are slated to perform in February and March respectively.
The Montclair Art Garage is easily accessible from anywhere in Northern New Jersey and available for party rentals, including themed children’s birthday parties. For more information, visit their website at http://www.artgaragenj.com.