Judith and Tom Neugebauer: Jewelry and Ceramics Runs Until Jan. 14
Tom Neugebauer, Intersections, 2013, wheel thrown clay, raku-fired; tape resist designs 18 in. h x 13 in. w. Collection of Bryan Lees and Paula Whitlock.
Husband and wife artists Judith and Tom Neugebauer have inspired each other's work for years, but their current exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum is the first time their art has appeared together.
"Judith and Tom Neugebauer: Jewelry and Ceramics" runs until Jan. 5, 2014, and one can detect how they influence each other when viewing their work side by side. In particular, the cross influence is noticeable in Tom's larger abstract clay and metal sculptures. The sweeping lines of the metal are reminiscent of the swirling designs of Judith's jewelry.
"Since our studios are in a converted dairy barn, we very often do consult with each other on design concepts," Judith said.
For several years Judith studied ceramics with Tom and that aesthetic clearly influenced her design approach. In turn, Tom briefly explored working in the jewelry studio, which led to his using gold leaf in several of his pieces.
Judith also relies upon her previous career in classical ballet and theater for inspiration when creating her unique jewelry designs.
"The many years I spent as a dancer have given me an awareness of form, line and movement," she said. "The graceful lines of the body in movement are translated in designs."
Judith began making jewelry when she retired from the stage. She enrolled in a jewelry-making class and discovered an innate talent for it. Within a year she was selling earrings, necklaces, pins and bracelets to stores in northern and central New Jersey.
"My work is individually hand-fabricated using sterling silver with an overlay of 23-karat gold leaf," Judith said. "Many pieces also incorporate freshwater pearls and Australian boulder opals set in 22-karat gold. Fold-formed as well as die-formed hollow elements create visual depth, yet the overall concern with lightness and movement remain central to my approach."
Tom discovered ceramics while searching for a creative outlet to counterbalance the stress of teaching in an inner city school. He took a pottery class and found his bliss. Within two years he was teaching clay and setting up a studio in lower Manhattan.
Many of Tom's works contain classical references ranging from Native American to Asian ceramics. While texturing emphasizes the softness of the clay and brings the surface to life, there's a touch of serendipity involved in the final outcome due to the spontaneous effects fire will have on clay.
"Each piece develops its own unique look," Tom said. "You influence the results; you don't control it."
Tom's work has been exhibited widely in galleries and art shows nationwide. He has been a ceramics instructor at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit since 1981. In addition, he conducts workshops in Raku and special pit-firing techniques throughout the year at his studio in Milford, Pa. You can discover more of his work at www.tomneugebauer.com.
Judith's work is widely exhibited and collected, having been featured in fine craft galleries, museum stores and juried exhibitions throughout the United States for nearly 30 years. She was selected to participate in the 1999 Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C. and as a juror for the prestigious American Crafts Council shows in Baltimore. Her website is www.judithneugebauer.com.
"Although, for many years we both exhibited at the American Craft Council shows, this is the first time we have had our work on exhibition together and we are very excited to have this opportunity," Judith said.
Santiago Cohen: Ex-Vida Project
When Santiago Cohen wanted to tell his two children the story of his life - as a Jew growing up in Mexico, and as a Mexican starting a career and family in New York - he decided to paint it.
When finished, he had 1,150 oil paintings completed in ex-voto style: a narrative form of painting, usually featuring religious imagery, found by the thousands throughout Mexico. Roughly half of the paintings spanning Cohen's life will fill the first-floor gallery of the Hunterdon Art Museum beginning Sept. 22. The opening reception for Cohen's "Ex-Vida Project" is Sunday, Sept. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. Cohen will discuss his work during the reception, which is free and open to all.
Cohen said he began the project shortly after his son went to college in 2006.
People who emigrate from one country to another carry the roots of their origin while trying to build new experiences in their adopted homeland, Cohen said.
"In a way I have to explain to my children that half of my life was created in a different reality," Cohen said. "They already heard a lot of stories, and they had to deal with funny accents and costumes. I wanted to explain to them what made their mom and I decide to leave everything behind to start a different life here. They live in a new world, but their parents had to live in both."
The "Ex-Vida Project" is divided into several sections of vignettes, collectively illustrating Cohen's journey through life. Sections detail Cohen's family life in Mexico, his decision to move to the United States and find work as an artist in New York, and about having and raising children. The stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes controversial. Cohen moves through these illustrations trying to understand the world around him and his place in it.
One story covered in depth in this exhibition details Cohen's first efforts to find work in New York. A Greek newspaper hired him as an art director. Immediately upon settling behind his drafting board, a man began bossing him around, treating him like a go-fer and demanding he fetch him coffee. Santiago complied hastily, figuring he'd better please his new boss. Eventually he discovered the man was actually his assistant.
Cohen was fired after working on one issue. Later he latched onto a position at High Times magazine, where he helped create a popular cartoon about cockroaches.
Cohen doesn't shy away from difficult subjects. He shares the trauma of coping with his father's fatal car accident following an acrimonious parting from Mexico. He deals with the horror of robbers attacking him and his wife while camping on a beach one night, the husband and wife sprinting across the sand to elude further harm.
"As I was painting frame by frame I started to remember the details of what happened - how they had cut open our tent and pointed a gun at us," Cohen said.
This happened on several occasions: While painting, forgotten details from his past would spring to life.
"Sometimes when I was painting my siblings, I would remember their clothes and other things like that. When you're trying to put it in a painting, you have to think of these things but normally you don't need to remember. Why do you need to remember visual details from your life? It's . . . it's a crazy project."
So how -- and when -- does it all end?
"Recently I thought that's it," Cohen said. "I have to finish. I can't go on forever."
Cohen reaches for one of his ubiquitous stacks of paintings, shuffling through it until he finds a specific section. "These are the last paintings I did, and they're all silent (without written descriptions). There are about 20 of them."
Cohen ended the series at a point when his children developed a sense of wherewithal about the world around them.
"I decided to stop at the point when my kids had a conscience because I don't want to impose my memories into their lives," Cohen said. "They should know what I think of my life, but I should not get into their own lives and memories because they have to build their own."
Cohen's career highlights include working for several major newspapers, designing Christmas cards for the Museum of Modern Art and illustrating children's books. He has also worked in television creating animation for 24 Troubles the Cat shorts produced by the Cartoon Network and the Children's Television Workshop. He has received numerous awards, including an Emmy for How Do You Spell God?, and Emmy and Peabody awards for his work on the HBO special Goodnight Moon and Other Sleepytime Tales.
Cohen to Teach at HAM
Cohen will teach three classes at the Hunterdon Art Museum this fall. For more information and to register for these classes, visit: www.hunterdonartmuseum.org or call 908-735-8415.
On Friday, Oct. 4 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Cohen will lead a "Famous Artist Friday: Story Time and Drawing" class for children ages 2 to 5. Cost is $5. Space is limited; call the Museum to reserve a space.
"Illustrate with Artist Santiago Cohen" will run for two Saturdays, Nov. 9 and 16, from 1:30 -- 4:30 p.m. for children ages 9-12. Tuition is $70 or $60 for members.
Cohen and artist Lena Shiffman will teach a weekend workshop for adults on "Book Illustration with Professional Illustrators," on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuition is $210, or $190 for members.
John Anderson: Large Works
John Anderson loves a good storm. Heavy rain, lots of wind. Something to really shake the branches out of the trees and send them crashing to the earth.
Once Mother Nature finishes her work, the New Jersey-based sculptor begins his. He heads outside to search for the perfect branches for his next creation.
"I have an idea of what I'm looking for, and then I go out and get that type of wood," Anderson says.
He carries the wood home, strips the bark and carves the limbs into cylinder shapes of varying sizes. Anderson uses metal cables to string the wood together. These cables are attached to metal plates that hang from the ceiling. Heavy chains help support the hanging sculptures.
Anderson's mammoth structures will hang from the ceilings of the Hunterdon Art Museum this fall. His solo exhibition "John Anderson: Large Works" opens Sept. 22, running until Jan. 5, 2014, with the opening reception scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. The reception is free for all, and refreshments will be served.
The octogenarian artist recounted his career recently as he stepped carefully along the slim, serpentine pathways that wind around his massive creations, which are easily imagined as toys or wind chimes for dinosaurs.
Surrounded by so much wood, one isn't surprised to learn Anderson began as a logger, working in Seattle until winter's worst forced him indoors. When that happened, Anderson went to art school. He went on to study at the Art Center School in Los Angeles and later at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. "I got to know some real artists while I was in New York," he says. "It made a difference."
Following a stint in the Korean War, Anderson traveled to Mexico, later heading to Norway after becoming a double Guggenheim winner. He collected wood for his work during his travels, which in those days were carved sculptures of tool-like objects. The work caught the attention of Allan Stone Gallery in 1962; it offered him a solo exhibition. Since, the New York City gallery has featured him in 13 solo exhibitions.
Around the dawning of the 21st century, Anderson shifted his focus to the large-scale sculptures the Museum will feature. Columnists reflecting on Anderson's sculptures have been drawn to the work's "muscular beauty," how the "cylindrical forms create the effect of something fluid, perhaps a waterfall of wood," or that "some sections retain the anatomy of a branch and resemble the articulations of vertebrae; others are planed in ways that recall intricate hands and bones."
Anderson found a unique location to house his creations and his family: a century-old former brick elementary school. Large open classrooms where children sat in rows of wooden desks now contain his massive sculptures, rows of limbs and sticks connected by cables.
"We bought the school house in 1967," Anderson explains from a second-story classroom. "The school district had consolidated, so this was an abandoned structure that had been vandalized. It was just the perfect place for a poor artist to come along when it was up for sale."
This exhibition, Anderson's first solo exhibition in New Jersey, will include his most recent work in photography, where he takes various small objects, photographs them on glass plates and creates large poster-sized images.
2013 Members Exhibition
The 2013 Members Exhibition opens Sept. 22 and runs until Jan. 5, 2014.