By April W. Klimley, Art Critic
April is certainly the cruelest month, as T.S Eliot wrote. Spring keeps peeking out followed by rainy and cold days here at the Shore. So, why not cheer yourself up by jumping into the Shore Art Circuit as it emerges from its winter torpor.
New exhibitions are emerging like the daffodils in your garden. Last weekend at least two galleries held openings. One was the A.J. Dillon Gallery of Art in Atlantic Highlands with an exhibit entitled “Art in Nature,” a theme appropriate to the season, despite the chill. The other was held in Red Bank. The Art Alliance held a juried member show with two themes–“Contrasts” and “Personalities.” The curator of the show was Michael Burrus Johnson who had several paintings displayed in the showcase front windows of the gallery.
As I strolled around the small gallery gleaming with a wide variety of styles, Bathers by Miguel A. Fugeras drew me in. At first glance, the piece looked like a wood block print—a powerful rendering of statuesque tall women in black and white bathing in a river. But up close, it’s clearly a drawing, probably pen and ink. It’s an arresting piece that reinterprets the time honored, traditional theme of artists painting (dressed) women or female nudes at the seashore, ocean, or other body of water. Virtually all major artists from Botticelli to Degas have painted these scenes. But in tone and feeling, Fugeras’ drawing feels closer to Picasso’s Demoiselles of Avignon because of its angles and abstract nature .
Bathers by Miguel A. Fugeras. Drawing. The Art Alliance.
On the back wall of the exhibit, the military collage by Bob Spruce entitled Rescue/Combat caught my eye. I almost missed it in my first turn around the gallery, since it was hung low below several other works of art. But the closer I looked, the more the bold composition stood out. It is a collage composition of an American flag folded and splattered with blood. At first, I wondered, “Is this just thrown together? Or is it truly art? You decide for yourself when you see it. I decided it was good art.
Soon after, I had a chance to speak with the artist Bob Spruce. He gives 95% of the price of the paintings to the Wounded Warrior project. (The other 5% goes to supplies.) His work is inspired by Jackson Pollack. But it is an expression of the pain and power of his experience during his 11 years as a Marine in Iraq and Somalia. One of the viewers at the reception brought another Spruce painting from her car. It was more abstract and darker.
Bob Spruce, Rescue/Combat, Acryllic Collage, Art Alliance
Bob Spruce, Abstract, Private Owner
Other worthwhile exhibitions are opening on the shore this month. This weekend there are receptions in Belmar and Shrewsbury. Saturday evening in Belmar, Roddy Wildeman is holding a reception from 7 to 10 pm for his “2 Year Anniversary Spring Exhibition” to celebrate the expansion and success of his new gallery in that borough. Roddy, a wall art sculptor, has brought together works from over 60 artists for the exhibition. They come not just from our region, but also New York, Brooklyn, Florida and as far away as India. Very few exhibition spaces could hold this size show comfortably. But Roddy’s large, bi-floor space can do this, since it spans 4,500 square feet.
I’m hoping Roddy will also have some of his own work on display. Roddy uses the debris of wrecked houses to create wall art in beautiful, geometrical patterns made of strips of wood in muted colors. I first saw a large circular piece of his wall art entitled, Composite Memory Tri-Burst (2015) at “Monmouth Museum’s 36th Annual Juried Art Exhibit” in January. The patterns and color in the piece hypnotized me just like an Escher etching as my eye kept moving from one quadrant to the next.
Roddy Wildeman, Composite Memory Tri-Burst, (2015)
Monmouth Museum 36th Annual Juried Art Exhibition, January, 2015
Roddy told me he started creating these assemblages after Storm Sandy with debris from houses destroyed by the storm. “If you look behind each one,” he told me recently, “you’ll see I add the address of where the wood came from.” This show is curated by Melissa Starke, coordinator of the department of fine arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Roddy’s gallery has been so successful that he is on the verge of opening another one in Yonkers, New York.
If that’s not enough fine art for you, stop in at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury Sunday. A reception is being held from 2 pm to 4 pm to honor a major exhibition of photographs by art photographer Bill Jones. The exhibition is entitled “Celebrating Keansburg” and divided into three parts: “Celebrating Keansburg,” “Artistic Expressions in the Home,” and “Animal Encounters.” These photographs provide a wonderful way for viewers to learn more about the beauty and depth of an important local community and its environs as seen through the eyes of an artist/photographer.
Rights for reproduction must be obtained from the artist for any of the works shown here.
Exhibitions Mentioned in the Column
Altantic Highlands— A.J. Dillard Galley of Art, 54, First Ave., 732.872-4281
- EXHIBIT: “Art in Nature” DATES: From April 4 to May 2
- CURATOR: Leeann Lavin, Duchess Designs
Belmar—Torche Galerie. 500 Main Street, 732-829-2511
- EXHIBIT: “2 Year Anniversary Spring Exhibition” DATES: Opening Apr. 11
- OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday April 11, 2015, 7 pm to 10 pm
- CURATOR: Melissa Starke
Red Bank — Art Alliance, 33 Monmouth Ave., 732-842-9403
- EXHIBIT Personalities” and “Contrast” Juried member show.
- CURATOR: Michael Burris Johnson DATES: From April 4 to 28
Shrewsbury — Monmouth County Library, Eastern Branch, 1001 Route 35,
Avenue of the Commons, 732-683-8980
- EXHIBIT: Photographer Bill Jones: “Celebrating Keansburg”
- DATES: From April 1 to 30
- RECEPTION: Sunday, April 12, 2 pm to 4 pm