CLINTON, NJ (January 2023) – The Hunterdon Art Museum will open three new exhibitions on Jan. 22: “Portrait of the Artist,” “Cristina de Gennaro: Sage Drawings,” and “Tricia Zimic: Sins & Virtues.” An opening reception with artist talks will be held on Jan. 22 from 2-4 p.m., as well as a celebration for the museum’s 70th anniversary. The celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and town proclamation honoring the museum’s role in the community given by Mayor Janice Kovach, a special art project in the museum’s studios, live music, cupcakes, wine, and a HAM-themed cocktail.
Main Gallery: “Portrait of the Artist,” Mary Birmingham, Guest Curator
“Portrait of the Artist” explores the ways in which artists interpret themselves and the world around them through portraiture. Each of the works in this exhibition features an artist as the subject, using both literal representations as well as more nuanced interpretations.
Mary Beth McKenzie, a realist painter who works from life, has been making self-portraits in her New York studio for nearly five decades. Sarah McEneaney’s autobiographical paintings document her life and surroundings, presenting an intimate glimpse into the artist’s domestic and studio spaces. Judith Brodsky created a series of self-portraits during the pandemic lockdown to reflect on her isolation and restrictions.
Julie Heffernan’s allegorical self-portraits incorporate references to art history and her growing concern for the environment. In Judith Henry’s photographic series of self-portraits, “Beauty Masks,” the artist poses behind masks that juxtapose images of fashion models’ faces with her own.
Even when the artists in this exhibition portray other artists, they reference self-portraiture, with their subjects consciously posing as artists. Rodríguez Calero reinterprets a well-known self-portrait by Puerto Rican artist José Campeche and updates the imagery to reflect his Afro-Caribbean identity. Donna Bassin’s ongoing series, “My Own Witness,” features photographs of artist friends posing with objects meaningful to their practices.
The seven artists in the exhibition perform parallel roles as creator and subject, bringing a unique perspective to the merging of artistic and personal identity.
The exhibition will be on view through April 30.
First Floor Gallery: “Cristina de Gennaro: Sage Drawings”
“Cristina de Gennaro: Sage Drawings” showcases five works from de Gennaro’s series of landscape drawings of the high desert floor that began during a fellowship at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, N.M.. The drawings depict eroding sagebrush, weeds, and parched soil and examine the tension between the sublime and the abject.
“The serpentine forms embody the entropic process, capturing the transition from a state of growth to one of dissolution,” says de Gennaro. “And yet I find their dis-order, their decline, to be filled with movement, pattern, grace, and beauty, much like my aging body.”
The “Sage Drawings” series is a parallel to de Gennaro’s earlier series of photographs and drawings called “Medusa Portraits,” which examine aspects of the “feminine” in relation to aging and the association of the “feminine” in Western philosophy and culture to earth and decay, even while it also has clear biological connections to birth and life.
De Gennaro photographs panoramic views of the desert floor and uses charcoal to draw the organic systems on mylar. These compositions are described as being de-centered and claustrophobic, evoking simultaneous feelings of attraction and repulsion.
Cristina de Gennaro has exhibited her drawings and paintings, installations, videos, and performances in museums and galleries nationally, including the Portland Art Museum, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, and the Glyndor Gallery at Wave Hill, among others.
The exhibition will be on view through April 30. Learn more about de Gennaro at cristinadegennaro.com.
River Gallery: “Tricia Zimic: Sins & Virtues”
“Tricia Zimic: Sins & Virtues” spotlights nine white porcelain sculptures of Chacma baboons depicting the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues. The sculptures, part of Zimic’s “Sins & Virtues” series, are one-of-a-kind and hand-modeled, with the individual personality of each animal and artwork revealed through the development of fine details.
One of the pieces, “Diligence ‘Kintsugi,'” portrays a baboon using the Japanese technique of kintsugi to repair broken plates and sculptures, representing the virtue of diligence through focus and patience. In “Liberality,” a baboon is shown opening a fish to feed nearby birds, symbolizing the virtue of pure generosity and openhandedness.
The process of creating these works begins by rough sculpting from a sketch and deconstructing the limbs. The details are refined and each piece is hollowed out. The sculpture is then reassembled before a 32-hour firing.
Zimic was inspired to create these porcelain sculptures after visiting the Dresden Porcelain Collection and the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, and drew inspiration from Johann Joachim Kaendler’s 18th-century “Monkey Orchestra,” a series of elaborately hand-painted monkey figurines from Meissen’s Rococo era.
Tricia Zimic works in sculpture and painting, using animals as narrative stand-ins for her unfolding dramas. Zimic’s works can be found in many public collections, including The New Jersey State Museum, The Morris Museum, and The Meissen Collection, as well as many private collections in the United States and Europe.
The exhibition will be on view through March 5. Learn more about Zimic at triciazimic.com.
Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Hunterdon County Board of County Commissioners, through funds administered by the Cultural & Heritage Commission; Hyde and Watson Foundation; Union Foundation; The Large Foundation, along with other corporations, foundations and individuals.
About Hunterdon Art Museum
The Hunterdon Art Museum presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft, and design in a 19th-century stone mill that is on the National Register of Historic Places. A landmark regional art center since 1953, HAM showcases works by established and emerging contemporary artists and also offers a dynamic schedule of classes and workshops for children, teens, and adults. Learn more at hunterdonartmuseum.org.
Hunterdon Art Museum is located at 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton, NJ 08809. The galleries are open to the public Wednesday – Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm. Admission: $7 adults, $5 seniors (65+)/military personnel/students, free for children under 12. For more information about visiting, see hunterdonartmuseum.org/visitor-information/.
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Hunterdon Art Museum